Legend has it that when Dom Perignon, a Benedictine Monk, discovered Champagne, he proclaimed excitedly: ‘Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!’ While this may not be entirely true, it perfectly sums up the spirit of this wondrous drink that in a word conjures up images of the finest of rare foods, exotic locations, beautiful women and lavish luxury.
Champagne is both a region and a method – used to produce a sparkling wine with grapes grown in the Champagne region of France. It has long been seen as the ultimate status symbol – ranging from dry (Brut) to slightly sweet (Démi-sec), this bubbly wine comes in blanc, rosé or a blended cuvee.
CARING FOR YOUR BUBBLES PROPERLY
When you are spending big bucks on a bottle of champagne, you want to make sure that you are serving it right, however most of us are doing it wrong. Here are the essentials in the art of champagne:
Champagne is best chilled in an ice bucket or in a refrigerator on its side, however, if it becomes too cold, the champagne’s taste and smell will be ruined. If chilled in a bucket, ice and water should be of equal parts and the bucket should always be made of metal because metal is a better temperature conductor. Sit the bottle of champagne down in the bucket of ice and water but do not ever cover the bottle completely and chill for no more than 6 minutes.
Ideal serving temperature for non-vintage champagne is 5°C, Vintage champagne should be served slightly warmer at 12°C as colder temperatures stun the taste buds and you would not get your money’s worth if you serve ice-cold vintage bubbly. Never put champagne in the freezer, as you would kill the bubbles.
Champagne is more sensitive to temperature than light. For that reason, it should be stored at 15°C upright or horizontally.
- PouringHere are nine steps to pouring the perfect glass of champagne:
- Check that the glass is crystal clean
- Wrap the bottle in a white napkin which will prevent the ice water from dripping on your guests or on the table and makes the bottle easier to hold.
- To open the bottle, remove the foil, then remove the wire cage making sure to keep a hand on top of the cork to prevent popping prematurely.
- Gently twist the bottle to ease the cork off
- Place your glass on the table or ask someone to hold your glass while pouring.
- Place your right hand at the base of the bottle with your thumb in the depression on the bottom called the punt.
- Hold the punt and balance the front of the neck to the side -45°. Doing so will ensure that the champagne will hit the side of the glass, therefore reducing the speed at which the champagne hits the base of the glass thus, maintain the bubbly texture.
- Wait until the bubbles subside and continue pouring to fill the glass. Repeat until the glass is three-quarter full. This may take up to four or five pauses in a champagne flute.
- Twist the bottle as you pull it away from the side of the glass to remove any remaining champagne on the edge of the bottle.
Always hold your flute by the stem, pinching the stem between your index finger and the thumb. Holding the glass by the bowl warms your drink.
While sipping your champagne, you should direct your stare into your glass as it is impolite to look at another person while drinking, and conversing.