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Champagne And Sparkling Wine Basics

With your first big dinner party of the year coming up, you probably have some questions about bubbly. Learn some quick tips and tricks and you will realize that champagne is not just for New Years Eve anymore!

If you are serving wine at a party it is good to know how much you will need. There are six about 4-oz glasses in a 750ml bottle of champagne. Decided on how many glasses you would like to pour per guest and then the math is easy.

There is about 80 pounds-per-square-inch of pressure behind the cork, so carefully remove the foil covering and wire hood. You should always place a towel or dinner napkin over the top of the bottle while working off the cage and cork. With all of that pressure behind a cork you never know when you will fall victim to the cork flying out suddenly. It’s better to be cautious than lose an eye or injure a guest.

Although many people think that you should have that famous “pop" when opening your sparkler, the truth is that it is really a faux pas. The cork should not pop. As the saying goes, "The ear's gain is the palate's loss." You waste bubbles when you pop the cork. When properly executed it should come off with a quiet sigh. To open a bottle of bubbly without the infamous “pop,” you will need to have it properly chilled to about 45 degrees and gently ease the cork from the bottle. This temperature can be achieved by placing the unopened bottle in an ice bucket — one-half ice and one-half water — for 20 to 30 minutes. Or, you may refrigerate it for 3 to 4 hours. The refrigerator temperature is too cold for the bottle to be left in there for extended periods. It should never be placed in the freezer.

Next ease the cork out, by securing the cork and turning the bottle (held at a 45 degree angle). Once the cork sighs open you are ready to pour. Fluted glasses or tulip-shaped glasses (called coupes) are best for Champagne and sparkling wines as they encourage the bubbles to collect and rise to the top allowing the full aroma to concentrate near the surface. They also preserve the lovely bubbles longer. Never chill or ice the glass, as it would take away from the enjoyment of the wine. Incidentally, if you are using crystal glasses, the surface texture is rougher than ordinary glass, more bubbles form on these glasses.

Go slow when pouring the bubbly, to avoid frothing, and allow glasses to settle a moment before topping them off.

Once opened, Champagne and sparkling wines may be stored for a few days in the refrigerator with the help of a handy Champagne stopper, which helps to keep the wine from oxidizing too rapidly. As for long-term storage, Champagnes and sparkling wines may be cellared horizontally like other wines, but do not necessarily benefit from additional aging.

Champagnes and many sparkling wines tend to pair well with a variety of appetizers, both mild and strong cheeses and hold up particularly well with spicy Asian cuisine. Chips and popcorn, pizza that’s light on the tomato sauce, nuts and Mexican food all pair surprisingly well with Champagne due to the salt factor. Bubbly wine is generally more versatile than still wines for pairing with food, making it ideal for not only celebrations but for every day drinking. Think about serving champagne on any occasion, not only for special events. It's perfect for the arrival of guests, as an aperitif, or even with fresh fruit for dessert.

A fantastic drink for guest arrivals is a Champagne Kir Royale. This Champagne cocktail is simple and tasty! This recipe calls for Creme de Cassis which is centuries old - it was created in France by monks, and is in essence black currant liqueur. It was thought to cure "wretchedness". Simply pour 1/2 shot Creme de Cassis into a tall flute and then pour Champagne over it. If you don’t have Crème de Cassis you may also use Chambourd. Enjoy!

Submitted by:

Jennifer De Jong

Jennifer de Jong is a long time wine drinker, enjoyer of wine, and non-wine-snob. She is the founder of http://www.vinovixenz.com a snob free zone for learning all aspects of wine culture. From how to pronounce difficult wine names to free wine reviews and ratings. We provide free wine tutorials to help the every man and women learn more about every aspect of wine.




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