Fine Wining for Fine Dining: The difference between Champagne and MCC
When it comes to entertaining and fine dining Johannesburg style, there’s no escaping the age-old appeal of champagne. Closely associated with joyous celebrations, wealth and luxury, more and more wine lovers are getting to know and love these famous golden bubblies than ever before. Any fine dining restaurant is bound to have at least a small selection of French and South African brands available. Pigalle, as providers of some of the best fine dining Melrose Arch, Bedfordview and Sandton have to offer, carries an extensive range of authentic French champagnes from vineyards such as Moet et Chandon, Dom Perignon and Louis Roederer, as well as acclaimed local sparkling wines and MCCs (Methode Cap Classique) like L’Ormarins and Graham Beck.
Recently, thanks to strict international classification standards, the world of champagne has become a lot more complicated. With new categories in the conversation emerging all the time, most people may not realise that champagne, sparkling wine and Methode Cap Classique, while similar, are not quite the same.
Champagne – Methode Champenoise and Methode Charmat
First things first – Champagne can only be made with grapes grown in the Champagne region in North-Eastern France. Regardless of the methods used in making it, any other sparkling wine cannot legally be called champagne. Genuine champagne is made using one of two methods. Methode Champenoise involves a second round of fermentation that occurs once the wine is safely inside the bottle, and this is when the famous bubbles develop. Methode Charmat is similar but more cost effective, as the same stage of fermentation is carried out in bulk, inside a pressurised container rather than inside each individual bottle.
Methode Cap Classique
This method is unique to South Africa’s Cape region. MCC is made following the same bottle-fermentation process employed in the creation of champagne. In fact, the only difference between MCC and genuine champagne, is the location of the vineyard. Experts agree that with South Africa’s long history of wine-making as well as the quality of our grapes, Methode Cap Classique sparkling wines can compare with even the very best French champagnes.The grapes used to make MCC are generally picked early in the season, when their sugar content is at its lowest. The grapes are pressed and fermented in the same way as any other wine. The wine is poured into bottles with added yeast and sugar and the bottles are sealed. Over the next 1.5-3 years, the bottles are periodically turned while the yeast produces the carbon dioxide bubbles that give MCC and champagne their signature fizz. Before being sold, the excess yeast is removed from the bottom of the bottle and more sugar is added before re-corking and shipping.
The best temperature for serving any kind of sparkling wine is agreed to be between 6 and 8 degrees Celsius. Anything warmer is likely to lose both flavour and fizz. In order to keep the wine fizzy for longer, it is essential to serve sparkling wines and champagnes out of a long, thin champagne flute. Classical accompaniments for sparkling wines include fruit, preserves and cheeses as well as shellfish such as prawns and lobster, and especially oysters.