Champagne, from the Champagne region in France, is a huge success story. The name itself has become synonymous with celebration and success. Due to its high demand and ever rising high prices it is luxury personified, and inevitably it is copied with cheaper alternatives. Others compete head on, Champagne being the yardstick for premium sparkling wines produced the world over. So what do we know about Champagne? First, styles of Champagne vary enormously. The use of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes generally prevail over minorities such as Pinot Meunier, and more often than not white and red grapes are blended. Exceptions are labelled Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay) and Blanc de Noirs (100% Pinot Noir). The latter tends to be fuller bodied, as does vintage over non-vintage. Indeed, styles range from zesty, fruity and floral, to yeasty and biscuit-like, to oat and brioche, finally becoming honeyed with age. The famous bubbles, derived from secondary fermentation in bottle, may also vary. The mark of quality is small, persistent bubbles, lasting in the glass; while mature vintage styles tend to have fewer bubbles than non- vintage. The terms `Brut` and `Demi-Sec` on a label indicate the wine is respectively dry and medium-sweet, but they vary in dryness or sweetness according to the Champagne House. What they all share in common is their searing acidity. Grapes barely ripen so far north in France, and it`s this which makes them perfect for sparkling wine production. It`s also the crisp acidity, together with the wine`s effervescence, which matches so well with oysters, smoked salmon and caviar. However, personally, my favourite way of drinking Champagne is as an aperitif with some small crispy nibble to take away the edge of the wine`s acidity. The perfect moment is the celebratory announcement or when your guests first arrive for the evening, presenting the opportunity for a chink and cheers – just think how many toasts have been greeted with the pop of a Champagne cork. The mind boggles.