Like all good wines, Champagne is appreciated first with the eyes; you taste it by sight. You need to take in its rich colour, its bewitching bubbles, and the way it brilliantly reflects the light. Then it’s time for your nose to get involved, for your nostrils to decide whether the wine has more floral notes, or more fruity ones. Finally, and only after the first two steps, your mouth will give the verdict; with just a small sip, your taste buds will reveal to you the breadth of flavours in the Champagne.
The best Champagne tastings are enjoyed by following a few base rules. First of all, it is formally discouraged to eat anything with too strong a flavour (such as strong cheeses or spicy dishes), as this could completely mask the Champagne’s flavours. Next, tulip-shaped flutes are to be preferred; their unique shape (which closes in at the top) enables them to concentrate the Champagne’s aromas. Lastly, if you do wash your flute glasses with washing-up liquid, you should rinse them several times under hot running water, to prevent a thin film from forming which could hinder the formation of bubbles.
Storing Champagne is also done according to strict guidelines: bottles must be laid down in a cold place that is well-ventilated, with little exposure to light or humidity. As for how long a bottle should be kept, that depends. The wine-maker or wine merchant are in the best position to advise you.