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Champagne (GB)
Champagne (F)

Probably the most famous alcoholic drink and the epitome of joie de vivre and luxury. Already in 1531 one was in southwest France sparkling wine documented, namely the Blanquette de Limoux from Limoux. But in the Champagne In the first half of the 17th century, champagne was by no means synonymous with sparkling wine. A common phenomenon in this area was that due to the cool weather, fermentation in autumn was interrupted and the wines were still bottled. In warmer weather in spring, the residual sugar an unplanned or unwanted second fermentation triggered in the bottle. At first there was no intention behind it, it just happened by chance.
Champagne bottle in a bucket with ice

The "invention" of champagne

The very conscious or targeted production of champagne, that is to say, the "invention" of the foaming drink, is often wrong Benedictine monk Dom Pierre Pérignon (1638-1715) attributed. An undeniable fact is that he is particularly the artful assemblage of vintages, grape varieties and locations brought to perfection. But he not only did not aim for a second fermentation in the bottle, he also tried to prevent the undesired process by a variety of measures. One of these measures was to use red wine grapes more.

The satirist Marquis de made an important contribution to the popularity Saint-Evremond (1610-1703), due to disputes with the Prime Minister of the French Sun King Louis XIV (1638-1715) went into exile in London. From 1661 he led white wines from the Champagne in barrels. Due to the warm spring weather, a second fermentation was often initiated in the barrels. The lively sparkling wines were bottled upon arrival and quickly became a popular drink, mainly among aristocratic circles. These were primitive forerunners of champagne, twenty years before Dom Pierre Pérignon started to look at it. In 1663, "sparkling champagne" was first mentioned in writing in London. So the first lovers were the English, only then did he become fashionable in France, especially in Paris.

In the last third of the 17th century, it became common practice in Champagne to add sugar and molasses to the bottle when bottling and to obtain sparkling and sparkling wines. The foaming product was then deliberately produced in large quantities towards the end of this century. But even thick-walled bottles very often held up to the large ones, which resulted from the generous addition of sugar and violent fermentation carbon dioxide pressure did not stand. Around 80% of all bottles broke at the time. That is why only a few thousand bottles were produced annually throughout the 18th century. And these were extremely expensive. That is why champagne initially developed exclusively as a fashion drink in aristocratic circles or among the wealthy.

An extensive production of champagne only started in the first third of the 19th century when the problem was correct Sugar dosing was solved. The chemist Jean-Antoine Claude Chaptal (1756-1832) contributed to the clarification. He recognized the fermentation in the bottle as the cause of the foaming. However, the greatest merit was earned by the pharmacist Jean-Baptiste François (1792-1838) who found out the secret of the right amount of sugar. He published this formula shortly before his death. Further milestones were the improvement of the cork, the development of a corking machine, as well as in the champagne house Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin the invention of the vibrating desk during the remuage by the cellar master Anton Müller.

region of origin

The Champagne and the champagne produced here enjoys the status of one Appellation d'Origine Protégée (AOP), even if this is mostly not on the label is noted. It is predominantly white and is also produced in smaller quantities as rosé, but there is no red one like one sparkling wine, According to the strict conditions of the CIVC (Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne) is only allowed to call sparkling wine champagne if it meets precise requirements. The grapes must be grown in the "Région délimitée de la Champagne viticole", pressed and according to the one laid down in 1935 Méthode champenoise fermented in double fermentation. This was made possible by an endless legal dispute in 1994 EU Regulation established. Outside of Champagne (and also in other countries) a quality sparkling wine is considered Crémant and in German-speaking countries as sparkling wine designated. The country-specific names are:

Champagne - different names for sparkling wine from Cava to Vonkelwyn


Seven varieties are permitted, of which only Pinot Noir. Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay play a role. The four varieties Arbane. Petit Meslier. Pinot gris (Fromenteau) and Pinot Blanc are permitted for historical reasons, but only occupy 90 hectares. authorized education forms are Chablis, Cordon de Royat. Guyot and Vallée de la Marne. These are short ones Rebschnitte that ensure moderate production. The maximum yield is determined annually by the CIVC and depends on the weather and the economic situation. If there is an oversupply of champagne, throttling. In 2004 this was 14,000 kg / ha of grapes including a 2,000 kg reserve.

Production of champagne

Producing champagne is an extremely complex and complex process. The chronicler Henry Vizetelly (1820-1894) described this in the book "A History of Champagne", published in 1882: Good champagne does not fall from the sky and does not jump out of the rock; rather, it is the result of tireless work, careful expertise, precise care and careful observation. The special thing about champagne is that it only begins to be produced where the production of other wines usually ends. Countless legends and anecdotes surround the champagne. Madame Pompadour (1721-1764), mistress of King Louis XV. (1710-1774) said: Champagne is the only drink that makes women more beautiful the more they drink. Incidentally, her favorite brand came from the house Moët et Chandon, The most beautiful anecdote is undoubtedly that of the legendary Madame Lily Bollinger (1899-1977) from the Champagne House of the same name.

The individual work steps that are now given essentially correspond to the production of a bottle-fermented one sparkling wine (Quality sparkling wine) or sparkling wine,


As a rule, the grapes are harvested early; that is, with a lower one Mostgewicht, Also a particularly low one earnings doesn't matter much. The main criterion for the optimal quality of the grapes is not a high sugar content, but the ability to produce acidic base wines. Furthermore, they are astringent phenols (Anthocyanins, tannins) undesirable. The grape price is based on the system Échelle des crus established. The best champagne houses use for theirs Cuvée de Prestige only grapes with the highest grade. The grapes are harvested by hand, all immature and rotten goods are selected. The minimum amount for the potential alcohol content in the must is also set annually (around 9% vol).


The maximum yield is limited to 102 liters of must (making 100 liters of wine) from 160 kilograms of grapes. Only gentle whole grape pressing is allowed. The traditional presses hold 4,000 kilograms (1 Marc) of grapes, from which 2,550 liters of must can be obtained. The quantities result from the barrel type used here Pièce champenoise with 205 liters. The 2,050 liters (10 pieces) resulting from the first press pass are called Tête de cuvée, that is the best quality. This is followed by a “tailoring” (turning over) of the mash and another pressing process. These remaining 500 liters are called waist (Until 1990 there were two Pièces Premiere Waist with 410 l and a Pièce Deuxième Waist with 205 l). Only these musts can be used for champagne. The must of other pressing processes is called "Rebéche" and is only for distillation allowed.

Fermentation of the base wine

Many champagne houses use for the production of the base wines only the best must (tête de cuvée) for further processing. The must is clarified at low temperature for 12 to 48 hours by settling before fermentation (débourbage). Then it is transferred to the fermentation tanks, whereby most companies use steel tanks from 50 to 1,200 hectoliters in volume, a few also traditionally use oak barrels. It is often from the CIVC recommended yeasts used. The fermentation temperature is between 12 and 25 ° Celsius. At around 22 ° Celsius, alcoholic fermentation takes around three weeks. Most wines then become one malolactic fermentation subjected. Finally there is another clarify, the end product is called "Vin clair". The base wines for champagne usually have an inconspicuous, sour taste compared to still wines.

assemblage (Blending)

This process decides on the unmistakability and quality of the product. The combination of wines and vintages requires experience, sensory Skills, imagination and care. In detail, it is a well kept secret of the houses. At this point it is decided whether the wine quality is sufficient to create a millésime (vintage champagne), which only takes place in particularly good years (free choice of the houses). According to the EU regulation, such a must contain at least 85% of the specified vintage, which the CIVC has tightened to 100%.

Vintage champagnes are assembled from different vintages or wines. at Moët et Chandon a cuvee of up to 30 batches is composed from the huge reservoir of 300 basic wines. Here too reserve wine to be there. The "Grande Cuvée" of the Champagne House jug consists of up to 60 different wines. The wine must not be drawn off on bottles for subsequent bottle fermentation before January 1st of the year following the harvest.

Liqueur de tirage and bottle fermentation

One of the basic regulations is that after the alcoholic one has to go through a second fermentation in a bottle (in no case in a tank or barrel). That champagne in that bottle must have been fermented, in which it is also marketed, was only available in standard bottle formats (0.75 l) and Magnum (1.5 l) limited. All small and the remaining large formats were allowed to be filled from normal bottles. Since the beginning of 2002, half bottles (0.375 l) and Jeroboam (3 l) be fermented in the original bottle. Some producers like jug or Pommery have always treated all of their formats like this.

In order to trigger bottle fermentation, the so-called liqueur de tirage ( filling dosage ) added. Depending on the existing residual sugar this is a small amount of a mixture of cane sugar dissolved in wine and special yeasts of about 25 g / l. From many producers Rüttelhilfen how bentonite added to the later dégorgement (Removal of the yeast set). This is followed by bottling with a Capsules be closed. Some producers have a small, thimble-sized plastic cup on the inside of the crown cap ( bidule ) attached, which holds the yeast deposit.

Bottle fermentation takes around ten days to three months at relatively low temperatures between 9 and 12 ° Celsius. The alcohol content increases by about 1.2% to 1.3% vol. Under high pressure of at least 3.5 to 6 bar, the typical, very fine-bubble foam (French “pinch de mousse”) is created in the form of carbon dioxide. Height Perlfähigkeit of champagne (sparkling wine) with tiny pearls is a decisive quality criterion.

Sur lie ( lees )

The bottle fermentation creates a sediment from dead yeast cells (lie). The bottles must now be stored for at least 15 months (including at least 12 months on the lees), and three years for vintage champagne. But there is also champagne with 10, 20 and rarely even up to 50 years of storage. The longer the yeast is stored, the shorter the drinkability when open. On average, the storage time for non-vintage products is 2.5 to 5 years. In the process, substances are taken from the dead yeast residues and the fine, sparkling, typical taste is developed.

remuage (Rüttelung)

The bottles are inserted with the neck down into the inclined and initially very steep pupitres (vibrating consoles). For a period of up to three months, they are manually shaken by the remueur (jogger), rotated by an eighth circle and the desk set a little flatter until the bottles are upside down and the sediment is in the bottle neck behind the cork. This is usually done 24 to 32 times. As a positioning aid for the remueur, many houses on bottle bottom on Winery point (marque) attached. Experienced vibrators can handle 30,000 to 50,000 bottles of champagne per day. The time and labor-intensive manual remuage is used today by large companies of Gyropalettes (computer-controlled metal boxes), which shortens the process to one week. The latest procedures are supposed to make both the remuage and the gyropalettes superfluous. For this, adsorptive are strong alginates used.

Champagne shaker and manual remuage

dégorgement (Remove yeast set)

After the remuage, certain houses delay the removal of the sediment as long as possible in order to increase the fullness of taste through the long storage on the yeast. A trademark of the champagne house that is protected in this regard Bollinger is Récemment dégorgé (RD). Warm disgorgement (dégorgement à la volée) requires great skill to avoid excessive losses. Today cold disgorgement (dégorgement à la glace) is mainly used. The bottles are put with their necks in an ice-cold saline solution and then opened (Dégorgier hook). The almost frozen lump of yeast shoots out; the champagne sprayed in the process is refilled if necessary. The video (click to view) shows the manual process in the champagne house Philipponnat; you can see the yeast in the bottle neck:

Champagne bottle in front of the dégorgement and dégorgier hook

Liqueur d'expédition, corking and poignettage

Alternatively, the so-called Liqueur d'expédition ( liqueur ) added. This is a mixture of wine and cane sugar or, for some producers, too brandy, This replaces the amount missing in the bottle due to the removal of the yeast and gives the champagne the desired degree of sweetness ( sugar content ). This dosage is not required for high-quality vintage champagne or for very long yeast storage. Then the text pas dosé, dosage zéro or brut nature will appear on the label - this means "without dosage". After the cork has been pushed into the bottle neck by compression, it is covered with a metal cap (capsule), which in turn is covered by a Agraffe designated wire basket (Muselet) is fixed. In order to optimally combine the dosage with the wine, an as Poignettage (also called piquetage) manual or mechanical shaking of the bottles. The video clip (click to view) shows the mechanical addition of the shipping dose and the corking at the Billiot company.

quality control

Champagne is one of the best controlled products in the world. A total of five institutions check the requirements and the quality. These are the Ministry of Agriculture, the State Wine Control and Trade Inspectorate INAO, the Customs and Tax Administration and the Champagne Association CIVC, The name "Champagne" and the year for a vintage champagne must appear on the label. Both must also be burned into the cork. Each champagne label bears a six- to seven-digit control number assigned by the CIVC. The first one or two digits provide information about the type of manufacturer or bottler:

bottle sizes

For champagne (sparkling wines) like to be special Bottle sizes used, which are often named after famous biblical characters. Since the production is very expensive and complex, this is not done by all champagne houses and only in smaller quantities.


There are around 15,000 champagne winemakers, many of whom are small, grape-producing companies with only a few hectares of vineyards. But around 5,000 of these, as well as 60 cooperatives and 360 trading houses, produce champagne. These produce at least one, some even hundreds of brands (in this case mainly MA's). The total of 11,000 champagne brands are with CIVC registered. Around 300 million bottles are marketed annually. This means that an average of ten bottles are opened every second worldwide. Around 40% of the total is exported. The main customers are Great Britain, the USA and Germany. The program of large companies includes a vintage standard, a vintage champagne, one Blanc de blancs (Chardonnay), a rosé as well as a top product of the house Cuvée de Prestige, Some companies produce under the name Coteaux champenois also non-sparkling red and white wines.

Well-known champagne producers and brands are among others Ayala. Besserat de Bellefon. Billecart-Salmon Billiot Binet. Bollinger. Canard-Duchêne. Charles Heidsieck. Delamotte. Deutz. Drappier. Duval-Leroy. Fleury Pere et Fils. Gosset. Alfred Gratien. Heidsieck monopolies. Henriot. jug. Jacquart. jacquesson. Joseph Perrier. Laherte Frères. Lanson. Larmandier-Bernier. Laurent-Perrier. Mercier. Moët et Chandon. spunk. Nicolas Feuillatte (Palmes d'Or), Perrier-Jouët. Philipponnat. Piollot. Piper Heidsieck. Paillard. Pol Roger. Pommery. Roederer. Ruinart. salon. Taittinger. Tarlant. Thiénot. Union Champagne. Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin. Vranken,

Champagne Indulgence

A frequently asked question is whether champagne is suitable for long storage and develops like a high-quality still wine. As a rule, he has the Climax already reached from marketing (see under sparkling wine ). Several finds of bottles in shipwrecks have shown that the "ideal storage conditions" (dark, cool, high pressure, quiet storage) mean that even very old champagne can still be enjoyed. The record is held by a Veuve-Clicquot of the year 1839, found in a wreck in 2010, which after more than 170 years was not only edible but also tasted excellent (see details below Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin ). A diverse culture has developed around the enjoyment of champagne (sparkling wine). For example, it is tradition and international standard for ship christenings To use champagne. See further examples below Champagne cocktail. Champagne bottle. Champagne glass. Champagne bucket. Champagne pyramid. Champagne Pliers. Placomusophilie and sabrage (Champagne-heads).

Additional information

Complete lists of the numerous vinification measures or cellar techniques, as well as the various types of wine, sparkling wine and distillate regulated by wine law are under the keyword winemaking contain. There is extensive wine law information under the keyword wine law,


A remarkably informative website about champagne is . Courtesy of author John McCabe , the award-winning work has been used as the source for operational descriptions of many of the champagne houses listed above.

Vibrating desk : Von Manikom - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 , Link
Remuage: champagne house
Dégorgement: champagne house

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