Champagne Tasting in Reims

Champagne Tasting in Reims

We meet again 2am. This time je suis sans baguette.

Rather than flail around in what appears to be a pillow top mattress in Paris, I will share the highlights from yesterday’s tour at Mumm in Reims.

We had a bit of time before our 2pm train from Reims to Paris and we had yet to sample champagne. We power walked it to Mumm for their morning tour. Most houses run 1-2 tours before déjeuner. We wanted to visit Taittinger and Mumm but logistics proved difficult.  

As with all tours, my knowledge of the product expanded. Here are a few notes on what I learned at Mumm.

Cordon rouge, which means red ribbon, was added to select bottles as a means of differentiating their product from other champagnes and also a tribute to the French legion. reims tour

The bump on bottom of the bottle strengthens the glass.

After describing which foods champagnes pair with (there’s a champagne for every occasion) our guide shared this about the bubbly:

You can drink champagne from 7 in the morning…to 7 in the morning.

Champagne houses add sugar and yeast to activate the second fermentation process, changing the cuvée to champagne. At Mumm the bottles must ferment for at least three years. There are people whose job is to turn the bottles to keep the sediment moving. Yes, I did debate if I could do that for a career. 

To remove the sediments, they eventually invert the bottle and freeze the sediment at the neck. That allows for the foil cap to be removed along with the sediment ice cylinder. Sugar is added. The amount of sugar at this stage impacts whether it is brut (dry) or sweet. A cork is added and the bubbly hangs out a bit before being sold. Mumm produces about 5 million bottles a year. I think she said they have 9 million stored in the chalky caves. The chalky soil provides more that terroir for growing grapes. The dug out caves keep constant chilly temperatures and 90% humidity–think grandparent’s basement– for champagne fermentation and storage. Certainly they wouldn’t miss a few hundred…

Unlike other wines, champagne doesnt get better with age. Consume it within 6 years of purchase. The added sugars will start to degrade the quality of the champagne.

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What happens to the used sediment? It is used for vinegar or mustard production. And the leftover skins? Those are used to make MARC, similar to grappa.

All this writing about champagne makes me wish I had a bottle to wash down the baguette I don’t have.


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