Friday, September 13, 2013

Pre-Meal Notes: Champagne - Don't Downgrade It, Elevate It

This week, I thought I would take a second and clarify a couple of questions that were asked about “Champagne” this week.

To begin, “Champagne” as a catch-all term for anything sparkling should be blasted from your vernacular.  Only true Champagne, from the Champagne region in Northern France, should be referred to as “Champagne”.  This can be challenging as it is so ingrained with many people, including guests, but there is a definite need for clarity.  Champagne is a luxury item, one, though, that is attainable for anyone.  By down-grading it to ordinary status, we remove the appeal of the luxury, and the ability to sell at a premium.

The psychology works in the reverse of course, so that when you refer to “lesser” wines in the same context as the true luxury item, these become elevated in status and can potentially sell for a greater amount.

Sparkling wines from other regions in France (Cremant), Spain (Cava), Italy (predominantly Prosecco these days), the United States and other New World wine regions, can all be very good, but few achieve the consistent style and elegance of real Champagne.  The region’s climate, soil, and historic winemaking practices all combine to make what is generally considered the most refined sparkling wines in the world.  And while other sparkling wines may be made from the same grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier), rarely do these grapes perform as they do in the Champagne region.  This is why the region has the reputation it does.

At our locations we list Champagne as well as other sparkling wines for sale by-the-glass and by-the-bottle.  Champagne is always the most expensive and as such we need to respect the desire of our guests to enjoy the luxury of this purchase.  Think about how you refer to these items and please be as accurate as possible – it will help to keep Champagne at its elevated status, where it should be.

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