Champagne is still the ultimate celebratory drink. But what make it so special? We pick out 10 reasons why when it comes to raising a glass it is always Champagne we turn to.
1. 2015 Was the best year on record
Despite years of success, it seems more and more people are still discovering the delights of Champagne. So much so that 2015 was its best year ever for sale with a record breaking high of €4.75 billion sales around the world, up 5.5% on the previous year, while volumes inched up by 2%.
2. Specific grapes only
Champagne can only be made from three types of grapes – Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chadonnay. The first two are actually red grape varieties, but the reason Champagne is clear is that the production process involves removing the red skin of the grapes before they are fermented.
3. Only in Champagne
Only sparkling wine produced in the designated French Champagne region is allowed to call itself Champagne. Anything produced elsewhere – even in France – is simply sparkling wine. Whatever it might claim on the label.
4. Keep abreast of your Champagne glass knowledge
The original Champagne glass, or coupe as it should be known, was made from a mould of Marie Antoinette’s breast, giving a whole new meaning to cup size.
5. Bottle sizes
Champagne comes in 14 different bottle sizes, from the tiny quarter bottle, right up to the gargantuan 30 litre Melchizedek. The larger ones are all named after biblical figures, and include:
[lists sio_type=”star”]Magnum (2 standard bottles),Jeroboam (4 bottles),Methuselah (8 bottles),Salmanazar (12 bottles),and Balthazar (16 bottles)[/lists]
6. Who drinks the most
Whilst Champagne is enjoyed the world over it is the French that account for the largest proportion of Champagne consumption, at 161 million bottles a year, more than half of the appellation’s total sales.
7. Second largest market is?
Elsewhere, the UK remains the largest export market for Champagne, consuming an annual 34.2 million bottles a year. This is followed by: * the US (20.5m bottles)
- Germany (11.9m)
- Japan (11.8m)
- Belgium (9.2m)
- Australia (8.1 m)
- Italy (6.4m)
- Switzerland (5.4m)
- Spain 3.9m
- and Sweden (2.9m).
8. The prize for drinking the most expensive Champagne goes too?
However, the UK is not the largest export market when the leading Champagne markets are ranked by value. Here, the US takes top spot, even though it accounts for 13.7 m fewer bottles than in 2015. This can be explained because of a higher proportion of cheaper non-vintage Champagne sales in the UK compared to the US.
9. Largest of French exports by value
While Champagne only represents just 0.4% of the world’s vineyards, and 4% of France’s total land area devoted to vines, it accounts for 30% of French wine exports by value.
10. Wartime reverence
The British wartime Prime minister, Sir Winston Churchill, loved Champagne so much that he was served a pint sized bottle of Pol Roger Champagne at 11am every single day, and drank so much of it that they named a Cuvée after him in 1975. He even referred to his favourite tipple in some of his speeches.
- “Champagne – In success you deserve it and in defeat, you need it.”
- “Champagne is the wine of civilisation and the oil of government.”
- “Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne.”