Perhaps the worst attack on any style of wine is the one made against champagne and sparkling wines. We try to cut corners by putting it in the freezer in the hopes it will cool down in time for your guests to arrive. Don’t be fooled – doing it this way is the fastest way to destroy the essence of your champagne and sparkling wines.
Let’s go straight to the point: A fridge or freezer is not the way to cool your champagne or sparkling wine. Whether you are talking about a simple sparkling wine or a more refined and expensive champagne, putting it in the freezer is a mortal sin.
There are so many different forms of bubbly these days. Champagne, crémant (regionally inspired bubbles from Alsace, Burgundy and other parts of France), Spanish cava, German / Central European sect, sparkling wines from the non-European wine countries (Australia, Chile, Argentina), spumante, franciacorta and prosecco from Italy, or the traditional Cape sparkle. And there are more and more choices each year.
The ideal serving Temperatures Champagnes
Source: QelviQ temperature database 2018
Cold or Cool?
Within these basic categories, however, there are still major quality differences that require different serving temperatures.
For example, 90% of all sparkling wines produced and consumed worldwide are the “Bruts”. These low-dosed cuvées are usually a blend of a dozen of components, masterly put together to obtain an identical aroma and taste profile year after year. Or in marketing jargon to obtain a 'brand identity'.
Then there are the “young Cuvées” that are served when they are still young, so within two years after their purchase. Stocking of sparkling wine is possible, of course, but is usually a waste of time as the original vitality and spirit disappears , whch is the essential quality we are looking for in this type of product. We also prefer to drink these kinds of wines older than the more complex or older Cuvées.
A simple ”pétillant” or a “Cava“, which, by law, has the be conserved for a minimum of 9 months flat on wood in the cellar, should ideally be served at 43°F to 46°F, while a more structured “Brut“ will be best if poured at 46°F to 50°F. Sparkling wines with a “reserve” status after years in its barrel or “Prestige cuvées”, which have strict rules in grape selection and will sometimes have an additional cellar maturation of up to 2 to 3 years in the cool (crayon) cellars of the winery, will only release their finesse at a serving temperature that is closer to the ideal 'cellar storage temperature'. And with ideal we mean from 50°F to 54°F.
Of course, other variables play a role, including the dominant grape variety from which the sparkling wine was made. More delicate, finer blanc-de- blancs (ie: 100% 'white' grapes) usually require a different - usually cooler - serving temperature than sparkling wines that contain a much higher dose of pinot noir or other blue varieties.
It is remarkable that most Champagne Houses or top wine houses from Europe and the New World, never distinguish between their various sparkling products. When they publish serving tips on the label, they usually provide a quasi-uniform advice that applies to their entire assortment. We are rarely informed of the difference between, for example a wine that had a sunny year with early ripening and usually a richer fruit or one that had a difficult harvest because of erratic weather circumstances.
So in the economy of Bubbles, there is definitely still room for more accurate advice to ensure your get your sparkling wine at the ideal serving temperature because nothing tastes as bad as a champagne or other sparkling wine from which the soul (the CO2) has disappeared.