Every year, media releases tons of information on how to indulge in a Champagne lifestyle over the holidays. I never really understood why Champagne was poured only during the end of year celebrations, or other important life milestones.
See, I was born in Champagne, and I grew up in a family who always had a bottle of bubbly in the fridge. No, we were not privileged, both my parents worked hard to make ends meet, but they were able to buy bottles at a reasonable price direct from the producers.
Serving Champagne was a family tradition whenever guests were visiting, or when we celebrated birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and any other holidays.
I exported my family traditions when I moved out of the family home. Let me share a few of them with you.
Since living in North America, I expanded my bubbly selection outside of the Champagne region because finding a reasonably priced Champagne is not easy to find. Prosecco and California sparkling wines are now part of my Champagne lifestyle!
Like any wine, store your bottles laid down in a dark and dry area.
Chilling Champagne is a must.
A recent article in Serious Eats claimed that the best glass was a wine glass, not a flute.
I like the flute because I always like to watch the bubbles forming and flowing to the top of the glass. A regular wine glass works well too. Coupes have a wide opening that let the gas dissipate quickly in the air, the wine getting flat quickly.
Count one bottle of bubbly to serve six people.
It can be a struggle. The wine is under 6 bar of pressure, so opening a bottle requires some attention.
While we all love the sound of a Champagne cork popping out the bottle, sommeliers trained to handle the opening with no or minimum noise.
Check out this video for a demonstration.
Pour slowly in the glass, so that the effervescence from the mousse slowly and the wine does not overflow.
Cheer with your guests!
Use a stopper to keep the wine in the fridge or the ice bucket.
There was a saying that dropping a silver spoon in the bottle opening would keep the effervescence. One of my sensory professors gave this assignment to a student: to compare the wine effervescence perceived in the mouth after a sparkling wine was closed with a stopper or a spoon. The experiment showed that the spoon didn't do the job!
Champagne and sparkling wines get unique aromas from the secondary yeast fermentation in the bottle and aging on the lees. These notes are captured in the Sparkling wine aroma wheel.
Young sparkling wines with minimum aging on lees have fruity aromas (such as green apple, watermelon, or pear). In contrast, sparkling wines aged on lees for an extended time develop unique and complex aromas, such as creamy, caramelized, nutty, or spicy.
One of my family rituals is to serve the wine until the last drop. After emptying the bottle in a glass, my dad would lay the bottle on the table for a few minutes. Then, he would pour the last drops. We are still doing this at home.
For casual occasions:
For a special day:
For a special celebration, I go back to my roots.
You may not to indulge in a Champagne lifestyle over the Holidays.
Whatever your wine choice, drink with moderation, and enjoy!
Published December 18, 2019