Pop the corks and dig out the ice tray: iced champagne is the drink you need to keep cool in the dog days of summer. Granted, diluting your bubbly with cubes sounds like a booze faux pas — on a par with demanding it be tempered with coulis — but respected champagne houses have been coming round to fizz on the rocks for a while. Like Moët & Chandon, whose Moët Ice is glugged generously at bars from Sky Garden to Galvin all summer long.
‘Moët Ice has proven so popular because it answers a genuine consumer need,’ says head winemaker Benoit Gouez. ‘During the summer months, people were drinking champagne on ice — also known as a “piscine” — particularly in hotspots such as St-Tropez.
While a chic way to refresh yourself in the summer, drinking brut [dry] champagne over ice dilutes the wine and breaks its balance.’ Hence Moët Ice Imperial Blanc, made from a higher percentage of red grapes than brut, and with a much higher dosage of sugar (45g per litre, as opposed to champagne’s traditional 9g). Don’t worry — that quadrupling of the sugar content doesn’t make for a sickly syrup; instead, it keeps the bubbles fizzing even on ice, and adds to the slightly fruity, oh-so-summery flavour. Pour into a balloon glass, plop in some ice cubes and add some strawberries to bring out extra sweetness, then find your nearest al fresco terrace.
Or even a field. At Wilderness this summer, the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch and Arizona Muse were sipping Veuve Clicquot’s Veuve Rich: a champagne with a higher percentage of Pinot Noir and Meunier grapes, making for a creamer, fruitier and ice-suitable fizz.
What’s more, the bartenders were dropping crudités willy-nilly into glasses, from slices of red pepper to cucumber. These were no irritatingly pointless cocktail flourishes, however; red pepper, for instance, brings out a truly delicious, peppery sweetness in Rich.
‘Veuve Clicquot Rich is a playful invitation to enjoy champagne differently,’ says Moët Hennessy ambassador Lucy Warren. ‘We encourage you to choose your perfect ingredient, personalising Veuve Clicquot Rich to your taste.’ But please, she implores, ‘don’t put ice with Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label or any other brut champagnes!’
Feeling broke after summer but still want iced fizz in your life? Get on the Freixenet Ice: the semi-dry cava comes with a richer taste to withstand the chill, and is designed to flow generously over ice at a barbecue. Forget stuffy champagne — this fizz is seriously cool.