Champagne tasting with Piper-Heidsieck at Rye & Soda

Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to an exclusive event hosted at the wonderful chic new bar and restaurant on the Aberdeen bar scene, Rye & Soda.

Rye & Soda is a part of the well-known and multi-award winning 10 Dollar Shake drinks company who started their business as a mobile bar supplier with a twist. Following a couple of super successful years supplying luxury and bespoke bars with the best handmade cocktails around, the owners Adrian & Andy took the leap into bar ownership. Launching their first bar, The Tippling House in 2012 with their well-known and respected reputation as well as many drinks industry friends in tow, the bar was quickly a huge success with the public and industry experts alike. Following on from this, they have since launched two further bars, Rye & Soda, a chic, rustic venue with a concentration on Gin, Wine and classy comfort food and Bos’n, a quirky, tiki-style, South American themed bar where iced margaritas and recycled wooden pallets for seating are very much the norm.

I was really nervous about being the first attendee selected to attempt Sbrage (Popping the Champagne bottle with a sword) but was very pleased with herself when she managed!  

I was really nervous about being the first attendee selected to attempt Sbrage (Popping the Champagne bottle with a sword) but was very pleased with herself when she managed!

The Piper-Heidsieck champagne tasting was hosted in Rye & Soda, with Adrian & Andy doing some good old fashioned food and drinks service and Helen Mackenzie, UK Brand Ambassador for Piper-heidsieck for our hosts.

We were super lucky to get to sample a Non-Vintage, a 2006 Vintage, 2002 “Rare” vintage, Non-Vintage Rose and Demi-Sec. My personal favourite of the group was the 2002 “Rare” Vintage Champagne, typically it was the most expensive of the options but was so light and bubbly! For a (very) special occasion, this will be my Champagne of choice for the future!

DID YOU KNOW: Piper Heidsieck “Rare” 2002 Vintage was the champagne that the Oscar Winners sipped on this year while they awaited the engraving of their Oscar!

Champagne is obviously a very big feature in my role as a Wedding Planner, most of the days I am working, the people around me are drinking it! So, I decided that I should share some of what I considered to be the most useful tips and knowledge I shared on the night with the many Bridal couples who are trying to get their heads around the wonderful product that is Champagne!

DID YOU KNOW: Heidsieck Monopole is the Champagne that was on the Titanic

What makes Champagne different from other popular Sparkling wines?

Champagnes can only be produced in the region of Champagne in France. This gives the wine a different flavouring to all other wines because of the chalky substance in the soil there. Champagne naturally becomes bubbly because of “second fermentation” of the Wine, where as most Sparkling wines have man-made fizz.

What is the difference between a Vintage and a Non-Vintage Champagne?

Vintage Champagne can be identified as Champagne that has a year on the label. This means that the Champagne has to have been stored for a minimum of 3 years before it can be sold as a Vintage. Vintage Champagne is also made of a smaller quantity of blends.

Non-Vintage Champagne won’t have a year on the bottle and can be aged for a minimum of 15 months before making it to the shelves.

Which is better, Vintage or Non-Vintage Champagne?

The truth is – it’s the one you prefer! You may find that you can’t resist a Non-Vintage that is a Supermarket brand, yet for special occasions really love a special Vintage that you’ve discovered.

Vintage champagnes are generally more expensive because there is a limited amount in existence and every vintage will taste different to the last. Whereas Non-Vintage champagnes are generally the “signature” flavour of the brand, so these should always taste the same!

How should Champagne be stored?

So, Champagnes pretty fussy! It likes to be stored in a place that remains fairly constant in terms of lighting and temperature. So, that cupboard next to the oven…not a great idea, or the shelf that the sun shines on…also not a great location for your favourite bottle of bubbles!

Champagne is best stored in a place such as a Garage where the temperature, although it fluctuates, will generally remain within 2-3 degrees of the temperature the day before.

TOP TIP: Remember to store it on its side though – If you don’t do this, the cork may dry up and this is what causes Champagne to go off!

How long should you keep Champagne for?

Well, this really depends on whether you have a Vintage or Non-Vintage bottle on your hands.

Non-Vintage wines are not scientifically made to “get better with age” like the famous Wine saying would suggest, so really, you’d best drink those within 2-3 years of purchase.

Vintage wines can be kept for much longer, though each one will vary and you’d be best to search the internet for advice!