Before she took on her new role as owner of Salt & Sundry at Union Market, Metrocurean founder Amanda McClements had the opportunity to tour the Champagne region of France on a media trip, learning more about the wines of the region. Eater asked McClements to share five things she learned about champagne on that adventure that she didn't know before the trip.
1. Reims rhymes with France. Or pants. Go figure.
2. The U.S. is one of the few places that doesn't fully protect the name Champagne, much to the frustration of Champagne makers. And don't go trying to ship some faux "Champagne" to Europe (not sure why you would but...). Border agents will probably destroy it on the spot.
3. Disgorgement dates — when the lees or spent yeasts are removed from the bottle — are a hot topic. The debate on this complicated issue (very basically) boils down to: 1. Because the time a bottle is disgorged (before being corked to finish aging) affects the final flavor characteristics, buyers should have that information and 2. some Champagne makers disgorge often and it doesn't let you know how much longer the wine aged in the bottle before being shipped.
4. Big Champagne houses blend their wines to create a consistent style, while smaller grower/prodcuers often focus on highlighting the terroir of a specific vineyard with a single vintage. Seek out grower Champagnes if you're into the nuances of terroir.
5. Leaving the sugar out of the process, called zero dosage, makes for a bracingly crisp glass of bubbles. Not for everyone, but worth trying to understand what sugar adds to the process.