How to Drink Champagne with Hervé Deschamps

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To coincide with the launch of the Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs, the house’s new permeant Cuvee, we’re schooled on champagne etiquette and service by acclaimed cellar master Hervé Deschamps.

What are common misconceptions about champagne?

Some do not know when is the best occasion to enjoy champagne; I would say every day, but I might be biased. Life is full of occasions to celebrate, such as a new job, a wedding, a weekend with friends… and there’s a champagne for each of these occasions. For instance, the new Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs cuvée is ideal for an aperitif in an intimate environment while the Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé is perfect to accompany a romantic dinner.

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What are the keynotes we will find on the nose and on the palate?

In the glass, Perrier-Jouët Blanc de Blancs is luminescent pale gold, tinged with hints of green. On the nose, lively hedgerow flower aromas of elderberry, acacia and honeysuckle tangle with notes of citrus fruit. On the palate, the wine is fresh, tangy and invigorating, with a mineral intensity on the finish.

What’s the perfect way to open a bottle of champagne?

The traditional way to open a bottle of champagne is to pop the cork of the bottle quietly and safely with the least sound possible. First, you need to loosen the muselet (the wire cage on the outside of the cork), but don’t remove it completely. Then with the champagne bottle at a 45-degree angle, slowly rotate the base of the champagne bottle while holding the cork and muselet tight together. By continuously putting pressure on the cork and muselet while turning, the cork will slowly pop out with a quiet fizzing sound.

Coinciding with the launch of the Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs, we’re schooled on champagne etiquette by cellar master Hervé Deschamps.

What are the tricks to serving champagne so it can be appreciated?

It’s common practice to present the bottle to the host of the party with the label visible before pouring and you may also serve a small sample to the host for their approval before dispensing the champagne to the other guests. The pouring aspect is rather important as it preserves the distinctive bubbly taste; you should then hold the bottle with one hand firmly at the base with your thumb in the punt (the depression) and spread your fingers out along the body of the bottle. In summer, I like the fruitiness and richness of a chilled Rose. In winter, I would rather pick a Blanc de Blancs with fine bubbles.

How cold should the wine be served?

We usually say that ideally champagne should be chilled between 8 to 12 degrees Celsius, and served between 10 to 12 degrees Celsius. It’s better to put the bottle in the fridge the day before or in an ice-bucket 30 min before opening. As in some countries like Hong Kong, where the weather could be extremely warm, I would recommend for example to pour only midway in the glass and refill more often to keep your drink at the right cool temperature.

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What are best food matches for different champagnes?

It depends on the wine, but in general, due to their compositions, champagnes better match with fish or meat and salted or sugary foods. With the new Blanc de Blancs, I would go for raw or steamed fish and seafood; something light and yet tasteful to bring out all the texture and freshness of the champagne.

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About Author

Nick Walton is a Hong Kong-based photojournalist and Group Managing Editor for Artemis Communications, producers of Alpha Men Asia, Ultimate Encounters, The Art of Business Travel, IKHLAS, Heavens Voyage, and many other titles.

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