When tasting champagne, you have to pay attention to foam, bubbles and of course to aromas it gives off. These are the elements which allow you to recognise good champagnes and which will guide you in your introduction to champagne tasting ;-)
First: the foam or “mousse”
- its size is called “rope of foam”: (definition: the ring of bubbles that forms at the top of the glass of champagne). Does it take all the glass of pouring? Or only half or a quarter? If the frothiness has a continue and circular hold on the glass, you are probably tasting a high quality champagne.
- Appearance: does it seem creamy? Thin? Average? Thick? Ideally, the foam should appear creamy.
- Foam resistance and evolution: it is excellent, medium, low or absent? Foam persists longer if fizz is regular. This lead us to our second step: the bubbles.
Second: the bubbles
- size and regularity: do they form “trains of bubbles or chimneys” going up from the bottom of the glass in continuous columns? Or are they more similar to big random soap bubbles? The first is sign of quality.
- their speed and weight: are they light or heavy? Do they tend to stick to the glass? Fast bubbles are usually lighter and dynamic, and they suggest a very lively wine.
Third: the aromas of champagne
The grape variety chardonnay gives aromas of brioche, toasted and lemon.
Pinot noir grape variety gives aromas of raspberry and redcurrant.
The varietal pinot meunier frees aromas of pear, apple and grape.
Bubbles sometimes add aromas of yeast, brioche and toasted bread. Young champagne usually have flavours of vanilla and wood, whereas more vintage bottles (who are more than 5 years) reveal aromas of caramel, coffee and walnut.
My advice: champagne Tradition Brut - Grand Cru Cramant House Bonnaire (Wine box My VitiBox December 2012)