Champagne fact & fiction

champagne toast flutes Does champagne go to your head faster because of the bubbles?
No, it goes to your head faster because you are on a date.

Does Champagne give you gas?
No. Does Pellegrino?

Is Champagne made from champagne grapes?
No, those are for decoration. The champagne in your glass likely is made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and/or Pinot Meunier grapes.

What’s the best Italian Champagne?
Champagne comes from…the Champagne region! Bubblies from Italy are mostly Prosecco. While both can be fun, they are made differently, taste different, and are priced differently. In the past, I’ve enjoyed the Bisol, “Crede,” prosecco (about $15).

Sweet Champagne gives me a headache. Are there any ones that are not sweet?
Champagne is not naturally sweet–sweetness is added via a shot of something sweet called the “dosage,” placed just before the cork goes in. The trend for the producers of Champagne that wine geeks favor is a throttling back on dosage and you may see wines labeled “zero” or “extra brut” indicating that the amount of residual sugar is below the level of perception. As to those headaches, maybe try taking only one flute as the tray gets passed around at the holiday party?

I don’t have flutes. Can I still have Champagne?
Yes, by all means, use a white wine glass. The bubbles will dissipate sooner but you will likely get better aromatics.

What’s the best way to open Champagne?
Well, the best way bar none is to be like the Japanese bottle slinger. Next best, try to go for the world sabering record in one minute. But if you really want to open a bottle like a pro, see our How to: open a Champagne bottle.

What’s a good Champagne to give?
If you’re looking for a blingy name that people may know, try the “brut Premier” from Roederer (maker of Cristal), about $35. For an artisanal Champagne, try the Camille Saves, Carte Blanche ($45), a blend of mostly pinot noir that makes for a delicious aperitif or companion to a meal. (find these wines at retail)

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17 Responses to “Champagne fact & fiction”


  1. It’s true that there is Prosecco … however, if you are looking for the “champagne equivalent” from Italy you would want to check out Franciacorta. It is made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Bianco and is composed in the “methode traditionelle”. It is also the first ever DOCG sparkling wine to be approved in Italy!

    It is truly an amazing product and one that you should get your hands on immediately. You are in for a treat!


  2. Good and Timely set of Q & As but there is, I believe a real factual reason for the first question. I understood that Champagne (and all sparkling alcoholic drinks) goes to your head faster because the carbon dioxide dissolves the alcohol into your blood stream faster so you feel the effects much sooner and more dramatically even after one glass. That’s why it works so well as an ice-breaker not just on a date, but also as an aperitif before a dinner party etc.

    To move the conversation distinctly downmarket (in my view), in the case of Tequila slammers (and there must be other spirits like this), the tequila is slammed down on the table to get air into the drink, which makes the alcoholic ‘rush’ faster. Same idea.


  3. Hi Wink,

    I’m not familiar with the art of slamming tequila. But seems as if there are several variables that would influence intoxication rate such as metabolism, body mass, fatigue level prior to drinking, the degree of alcohol in the beverages, and the quantity consumed.

    Here’s one study that showed carbonation to have no clear effect on increasing blood alcohol levels:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17720590

    Best,

    Tyler


  4. Hi Alder, some corrections to your words “Bubblies from Italy are mostly Prosecco”. Here in Italy we have several sparkling wines and the most interesting are “méthode champenoise”, not only “Charmat method” like Prosecco. You must taste, produced with Chardonnay, Pinot noir and Pinot blanc grapes (with different mix of grapes in every area) Franciacorta Docg, Trento Doc, Oltrepò Pavese Docg, Alta Langa Docg. Also in South Tyrol they produced excellent mountain sparkling
    You can find many informations about Italian sparkling wines (only in Italian language, sorry!) in my new blog, Lemilleblolleblog http://www.lemillebolleblog.it
    kindest regards and Happy Christmas to you and to your readers!
    Franco


  5. Hi Tyler

    Thanks for the link which states “The use of a carbonated mixer had varying effects on the alcohol absorption rate. 14/21 subjects absorbed the alcohol with the carbonated mixer at a faster rate” – that seems like a clear 2/3rds majority to me so can’t be all fiction.

    My description of the Tequila Slammer was not accurate, having looked it up – it is made usually with lemon juice and most importantly with any carbonated drink – sparkling water to 7UP to Champagne, and then ‘slammed’ on the table to mix the ingredients before downing.


  6. others famous sparkling wines in Italy are Ferrari’s wines. have you ever drunk them?


  7. I’m with Wink! A few years back I glanced at several research docs supporting the bubbles-drive-it-into-the blood-stream effect. If memory serves (don’t count on it!) the instant-giddiness was studied both by the soft drinks and spirits sectors. Having assumed it’s true, I’ve wondered ever since whether sipping sparkling water in tandem with wine will have the same effect. Wine slammers, anyone? :)


  8. “Does champagne go to your head faster because of the bubbles? ”

    Actually, there *is* some evidence (sorry I don’t recall the study!) that suggests that the bubbles may, in fact, speed up some alcohol absorption. However, if memory serves me correctly, the impact is minimal and it’s more likely a psychosomatic effect.

    Cheers!


  9. Yep, 1WineDude, agreed. The impact with bubbly was just a quicker dizzy and even then at only the equivalent of 0.5% higher alcohol. Apparently the effect with spirits is more evident. Must be reason why I haven’t touched brandy-and-coke since I was a child…

    Debra
    http://www.DebraMasterofWine.com


  10. Let me jump in on the carbonation/blood alcohol issue. Any variable that speeds alcohol uptake into the small intestine, where it is absorbed into the blood stream, will result in a higher blood alcohol peak. Since the alcohol must clear the stomach (although some alcohol is broken down by gastric alcohol dehydrogenase–the so-called “first pass metabolism), the slower the alcohol goes from the stomach, via the pyloric valve, to the small intestine, the lower the blood alcohol peak (although the longer the period of alcohol in the blood stream). The pyloric valve closes when you have eaten food, enabling the gastric juices to break down the food in your stomach. But carbonation causes the valve to open, thus releasing the contents of the stomach into the small intestine. That is why alcoholic drinks with carbonation get released faster than drinks without carbonation, resulting in a slightly higher BAC peak.


  11. New Years Day, day-long brunch: we’ll be pouring bubbly into pilsner glasses, over a muddled clementine…
    Cheers!


  12. Jim, thank you! Would you extrapolate this to mean that sipping sparkling water would cause tonight’s Peking Duck to release into my small intestine more quickly as well? Is that hard on the digestive system?
    Debra
    http://www.DebraMasterofWine.com


  13. I would like to recommend one of my favourite Champagne with its tasting notes.

    CHAMPAGNE LARMANDIER-BERNIER BLANC DE BLANCS – PREMIER CRU – ELABORÉ PAR LAMANDIER-BERNIER À 51 VERTUS – PRODUCE OF FRANCE 12,5 %

    VISUAL ANALYSIS: brilliant, intense straw yellow and as regards the effervescence the bubbles are fine, numerous and persistent

    OLFACTORY ANALYSIS: at the beginning, it is possible to identify the citrus fruit and if you bring the glass at the nose, you will receive a good portion of the flavour of carbon dioxide. The rest of the olfactory bouquet is composed by sponge cake, hazelnut, peanuts, toasting scent, green banana, lemon leaf, whitethorn and lemon flower.

    GUSTATIVE ANALYSIS: elegant, harmonic and balanced. It does not exist a substance or a sensation which prevails on the other; the final is lemon flavoured. The gustative persistence is about 4 seconds.

    WINE-FOOD COMBINATION: aperitif with finger food

    MY PERSONAL OPINION: a good champagne which exceeds a little bit in the sensation of carbon dioxide, due to the fact that the liqueur de tirage is full of sugar substances residue which confers more carbon dioxide odour and much more alcohol. The champagne arrives at the mouth with a velvet touch like a true blanc de blancs and therefore it is not so effervescent at the palate as the pinot noir was present in the grape blend.

    Making reference to the champagne comparison, this champagne is better than a Pommery and G.H. Mumm, but quite far from a Egly-Ouriet and Philpponnat. It is a well-made product that i does not exceed, partly because the price is too high.


  14. “Does champagne go to your head faster because of the bubbles It does indeed… Carbonation does indeed accelerate the absorption of alcohol into the blood stream according to hepatology studies, among other influencing factors. We also tend to drink Champagne on a relatively empty stomach and that will certainly make it go to your head that much faster too…


  15. […] http://www.drvino.com/2010/12/21/champagne-sweet-flutes-fact-fiction/ […]


  16. […] You can find articles and blog posts about Champagne everywhere – here is a good example, post by Dr. Vino. Well, let’s join the conversation about […]


  17. Does storing champagne upright in a refrigerator (~35 degrees) have any negative effects? Is there a length of storage time that is too long in the fridge? Does laying it down vs upright make any difference?


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