For centuries, leaders of the European world have adored champagne – from royalty and military generals to anyone who could afford them. It launches ships, marks victories and inaugurations, and is the wine of choice for triumphs and celebrations. From famous French and American movie stars like Brigitte Bardot or Bette Davis to writers and poets like Rudyard Kipling, champagne is a beloved beverage that instantly evokes celebration.
Perhaps it’s the allure of the fine, tiny bubbles rising to the surface or the crisp, refreshing cleansing effect on the palate that makes champagne such a popular beverage. It is exactly these characteristics that make champagne a perfect drink of choice on board a flight.
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Champagne’s light body, its elegance and relatively low alcohol (12 per cent), means it is a refreshing aperitif or a wine that can accompany nearly any type of cuisine. Even chilli-laden or curry dishes appreciate the cool, crisp, cleansing effect of champagne. At 30,000 feet in the air, the atmosphere is dry and our bodies are dehydrated; thus a light sparkling wine with its layered, nuanced flavours of nuts, toast and gentle citrus is the ideal choice. Heavier, full-bodied red wines can exacerbate the dehydrating effect due to its high tannins and higher alcohol.
Champagne produces only a fraction of the volume of sparkling wines in the world, even though for many of us, our first association when we think about sparkling wine is champagne. While sparkling wines try to mimic champagne, its balance, elegance and expression of its unique chalky terroir make this impossible. Champagne can only be made from the northern French region of Champagne where production is capped at 30 million cases per year. In this cool region, pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay grown on chalky, limestone soil produce grapes that are perfect for making minerally, elegant, long-lived sparkling wines.
The high cost of making champagne means it is more expensive than its international competitors. The land is very expensive; there is the high cost of holding stock and aging champagne for at least two years for non-vintage and normally five or more years for vintage champagne; the expensive machinery needed for processing, disgorging and bottling; the need for more expensive packaging material for champagne such as special heavy bottles to withstand high pressure. These high costs mean that champagne has always been an indulgence, a special beverage that can transform any day into a special occasion.
At the very top of the Champagne pyramid sits Krug, a house founded in 1843 by the visionary Joseph Krug. Krug is renowned for their commitment to excellence, especially for their non-vintage champagne, the Grand Cuvée, which is a complex blend composed of more than 120 components. Vintage Krug takes a different, more focused approach: It is produced in small quantities and it is all about expressing the depth and the terroir from the best vineyards of one particular year.
It is a special privilege for Singapore Airlines to be offering vintage 2004 Krug, which is gloriously pure and luminous, alongside the generous Dom Perignon 2006 on board all First Class and Suites Class starting in November 2017. In Business class, look out for the delicious Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve.
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.