Decanting Champagne?

Yesterday I attended a class at the Astor Center that explored decanting Champagne with Régis Camus, winemaker for Champagnes Piper Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck, Maximilian Riedel, the CEO for Riedel Crystal North America (he’s the 11th generation of the family) and Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, MW.


Before we got to the decanting, we experimented with different glasses, trying the house Brut and Rosé both in Champagne flutes and white wine glasses.


The Champagne in the white wine glass won every time.  It was rounder, fuller, smoother and more aromatic.  The glass shape impacts where the wine hits your mouth – with the flute, it hits at the tip of the tongue and with the white wine glass, it hits just behind the tip of the tongue, causing the wine to flow more evenly over your palate, allowing you to get more from it.  It’s also quite a bit easier to fit your nose inside a wine glass than a Champagne flute and smelling is often the best part.  The next time I serve Champagne at my house, my guests will be in for a surprise.

Here’s a video detailing the decanting of the 1995 Blanc des Millénaires.


Filed under Events, Videos, Wine

8 responses to “Decanting Champagne?

  1. Shanther

    Cool video. How does decanting change the flavor?

  2. was just at a tasting of piper and charles heidsieck at the same venue this morning (and regis camus attended too, and talked us through the wines) – the NV, a cuvee prestige, and a rose from both houses, along with a piper demi-sec – and they were all served in white wine glasses too. very full sensory experience. each wine paired with tasting menu from “seasonal” austrian restaurant on 58th street – super stuff. it certainly makes me rethink serving champagne in a flute …

  3. jk

    Is it me or does champagne sometimes carry an “off” smell? I have drunken some where I didn’t like the smell but taste and mouthfeel was very nice.

    I always thought for champagne it’s about bubbles and to retain them that’s why you use the flute.

    • athirstyspirit

      Max was adamant that the bubbles would not be lost throught the decanting process and as far as I could tell, he was correct.

      He shared a little secret with us, too – most flutes are nicked by a laser, creating a divet in the bottom of the glass and encouraging the bubbles to flow.

      As far as off smells, I can’t say I’ve encountered that too often when it comes to Champagne – maybe you don’t care for more earthy styles?

  4. Her Dad

    I hate it when it comes out your nose.

  5. Richard

    In response to the comments about the earthy style of some Champagnes. It is often the Champagnes made by the currently trend of Malolactic Fermentation (MLF) that have a heavier earthy toasted flavour. Champagnes made using the more traditional and non-Malolatic method of fermentation tend to have a crisp clean fresh and more fruity taste. This new method was introduced in the 1950’s for commercial reasons (it is a quicker production method) and Champagnes made by this method do not seem to age as well. While current trends have led to the mass-production of Brut (very Dry) Champagne, previously Demi-Sec (half Sweet) Campagne was fashionable through the 19th Century and early 20th Century. You may find a Demi-Sec or Doux (Sweet) Champagne less earthy due to the liquer d’expédition added at second fermentation stage.

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