Autumn Inspired Champagne Cocktails

The time for cool-weather drinking is upon us, so why not celebrate the season with some festive cocktails? Autumn gives us a great chance to experiment with seasonal flavors, whether you’re testing your own mixology skills or you’d prefer to take a special request to your favorite bartender.

Original Champagne Cocktail

This timeless cocktail has been left unchanged for over 150 years. Only a true classic stands the test of time quite like this single-serving recipe.

What you’ll need:

  • Angostura bitters
  • 5 ounces brut Champagne
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 1 lemon twist

Soak your sugar cube with the Angostura bitters in any sort of small glass or dish. Fill a chilled flute with your brut, then add that soaking sugar cube, finish with a lemon twist garnish and enjoy.

Cranberry Champagne Cocktail

This tart, refreshing creation from Food Network’s Tyler Florence is a crisp, fruity one-serving option that’s perfect for lunch or early-evening gatherings.

autumn-champagne-cocktailsWhat you’ll need:

  • Frozen cranberries
  • 1 ounce sweetened cranberry juice
  • 1 slice of lime
  • your choice of bubbly


Add the cranberry juice and a squeeze of lime in a chilled champagne flute. Top off the glass with the bubbly of your choosing, then garnish with a handful of cranberries. Toss more cranberries into the drink itself if you would prefer to increase the drink’s overall tartness.


This one takes a few more ingredients than usual, but the persistence pays off in a big way with this dry, light, slightly spicy, one-of-a-kind delicacy. The prep-time for this single serving is basically over once you find your necessary ingredients.

What you’ll need:

  • ¾ ounce Cynar
  • 2 dashes citrus bitters
  • 2 ounces rose vermouth
  • Ice
  • 3 ounces Prosecco, chilled
  • 1 blood orange wedge for garnish

Fill a chilled wine glass with ice, then add all your ingredients (aside from the garnish) and stir well. Garnish with orange wedge and enjoy.

Sparkling Apple Cider Sangria

Replacing the pinot grigio in typical cider sangria with your preferred style of bubbly makes this balanced sangria more bubbly and crisp, while still retaining its enjoyable tart-sweet core. This great option for fruit-filled fun shouldn’t take you more than ten minutes to make, and gives you between four and six servings.

What you’ll need:autumn-inspired-champagne-cocktails

  • 3 hone crisp apples
  • 3 pears
  • 2 ½ cups apple cider
  • 1 cup club soda
  • 1 bottle of preferred semisweet or brut Champagne
  • ½ cup ginger brandy


Chop up the required fruit, then combine everything together and stir for several minutes. Refrigerate for at least an hour before you serve.

Sparkling Pomegranate Punch

If we’re talking about tart-sweet drinks, the pomegranate serves us well as the perfect seasonal option. This punch that incorporates multiple different styles of wine with the beloved tart fruit, and the result is a bubbly, tart treat. This recipe takes no more than 20 minutes to finish, and it results in 10-12 servings, so this choice would work very well in a holiday party setting.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 oranges
  • 1 cup diced pineapple
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Ice cubes, per serving
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • ¾ cup late-harvest Riesling, chilled
  • 2 750-mililiter bottles of preferred sparkling wine, chilled

Thinly slice up the two oranges crosswise, and dice your pineapple (assuming it didn’t come that way). Dissolve the sugar in the pomegranate juice while stirring vigorously. Then, add your sparkling wine and Riesling. Then, throw in the orange, pineapple and pomegranate seeds. Serve your punch fresh over ice.

How to Build a Champagne Fountain


Without a doubt, a beautifully constructed champagne fountain creates a highly memorable focal point for any event from a wedding reception through a christening to a 50th year anniversary party and every other celebration in between. Here are a few tips on how to build a champagne fountain as easily as possible and with a minimum of fuss:

Build a stable base.  It is essential to start with a firm, solid base for the fountain. Anyone who has ever built a “tower of cards” understands this fact as a shaky table can undermine the best stacking effort. In the same vein, use a separate table so that any unnecessary jostling is kept to a minimum before the guests actually queue up to use the tower.

Use the right, same-sized glasses.  A seemingly small matter, it is essential to always use coupe champagne glasses. These are the somewhat retro but eminently usable short-stemmed ones that are easily stackable. Fluted glasses simply do not work. In addition, do not mix and match – make sure that you have enough identical glasses – your glasses as it will only complicate matters beyond repair.

Plan ahead.  The tower is made up of a square base layer. The second one is essentially the same but slightly smaller in size. For example, if the bottom layer is eight glasses by eight glasses, the layer above that would then be seven by seven, the layer above that six by six, and so on. FYI, this particular fountain yields just over 200 glasses of champagne.

Build properly.  The actual build takes some time and effort. In particular, ensure that each glass touches the ones surrounding it. This process guarantees stability and makes the subsequent layers that much easier to place. If done correctly, you will see a diamond-shaped gap between each glass. One more thing… when building the next layer, center the stem of the glass over these diamond openings for best effect.

Fill the glasses smoothly.  When it comes time to actually pour the champagne, you should not get overconfident. Do not start at the top and look for that cascading effect you see in the movies as the entire structure can become top heavy. Instead, half-fill each of the lower layers. Then, when they are stabilized, do the final flourish from the top of completely filling them.

Include a spillage tray.  The best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray. No matter how careful and exact the builder of a champagne fountain is, there will be anomalies. Save yourself some aggravation and clean-up time by including a spillage tray at the base or underneath to catch any overflow. Seriously, at the end of the night, you will thank us for this simple piece of advice.

5 Champagne Cocktails Perfect For Your Next Gathering

If you’re hosting a party or a cocktail hour and would like to serve some light, but enjoyable drinks, champagne cocktails are a great choice. Consider preparing one or more of these champagne cocktail recipes, which vary from sweet to dry.

Cranberry Orange Fizz

This cocktail is made with demi-sec champagne, which is a sweeter champagne, though not the sweetest. The bright citrus flavor and hint of tartness from the cranberry juice make it a good choice on a summer evening. The recipe makes a whole pitcher of cocktails.5-champagne-cocktails-perfect-for-your-next-gathering


  • 1 orange, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cups cranberry juice, chilled
  • 1 bottle demi-sec champagne, chilled
  • 1/4 cup fresh cranberries

Place the sliced orange and the fresh cranberries in the bottom of a pitcher. Muddle them with a pestal or large spoon. Pour in the cranberry juice, followed by the champagne. Pour into champagne flutes to serve.

Strawberry and Pineapple Breeze

This cocktail boasts fresh flavors, but it’s not as sweet as you might assume, since it’s made with an extra dry champagne. The recipe makes one individual cocktail, but it’s easy to mix up these drinks one after another.


  • 2 tablespoons strawberry puree
  • 1 ounce pineapple juice, chilled
  • 1 dash bitters
  • 4 ounces extra dry champagne, chilled

Pour the pineapple juice and bitters into a champagne flute, and add the champagne. Stir gently, and then pour the strawberry puree in gently. Serve before the puree has a chance to incorporate into the drink; this makes for a pretty presentation.

Old Fashioned Cognac Cocktail

If the occasion calls for something classy, mix up a round of these classic cognac cocktails. This recipe tends to appeal to an older crowd.


  • 4 ounces brut champagne, chilled
  • 1 ounce Cognac
  • 3 drops bitters
  • 1 sugar cube

Place the drops of bitters on the sugar cube, and place it in the bottom of a champagne glass. Pour the cognac into the glass, followed by the champagne.

Raspberry-Lemon Punch

This champagne cocktail is prepared like a punch. Make it in a large bowl, and let guests serve themselves in cute punch glasses. It’s great for a large party, as you can make 30 or more servings all at once.


  • 1/2 cup raspberry liqueur
  • 1/4 cup lemon vodka
  • 1 quart orange juice
  • 1 quart lemonade
  • 2 bottles semi-sweet champagne
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1 lemon, sliced thinly

Combine the lemon vodka, raspberry liqueur, orange juice, and lemonade in a large punch bowl. Give the mixture a gentle stir, and then slowly add the champagne. Garnish the punch with the raspberries and lemon slices before setting it out for guests to help themselves.

Champagne Mint Julep

Another non-sweet champagne cocktail, this one is perfect for a formal dinner or high-class cocktail party. It calls for extra-brut champagne, which is the driest available. If you prefer a slightly less dry champagne, feel tree to use brut or extra dry.5-champagne-cocktails-perfect-for-your-next-gathering


  • 3 – 4 mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • 1 shot bourbon
  • 4 ounces extra-brut champagne, chilled

Add the mint leaves and sugar to the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Muddle well, using a pestal. Fill the shaker with ice, and add the shot of bourbon. Shake well, and then strain into a collins glass. Top with the champagne, garnish with additional mint leaves if desired, and serve.

When you make champagne cocktails, you don’t have to worry about having a whole selection of ingredients on hand. These recipes appeal to an array of palates and make for a simple and delicious drink selection at your next party.


What Appetizers Pair Best With Champagne?


Champagne is typically the first choice for parties and celebrations.  However, when you’re hosting, you may find yourself wondering just what appetizers to pair with this bubbly beverage.  Don’t despair! This is not just a great party wine!  It is actually one of the most versatile when it comes to pairing with foods.

The term ‘champagne’ simply means ‘sparkling wine’, so there is a lot leeway when it comes to shopping for a beverage, and its companion appetizers, at your next party. Whether it be a sparkling rose, a sparkling white, a brut champagne or true Champagne from that region of France, you can’t miss with the following suggested pairings:


Antipasto simply means ‘before the meal’ and is the traditional first course of an Italian meal.  Traditional antipasto includes such delights as cured meats, olives, cheeses and vegetables in oils. A table laid with these will complement a delicious dry sparkling champagne.

Cheeses and Breads

Or, you may want to complement your rich sparkling rose champagne with gourmet cheeses and breads.  Think soft, spreadable cheeses as well as chunks of cheese your guests can add to a plate alongside crackers or breadsticks.


A light champagne for a feisty party pairs well with spicy bite sized quesadillas or even a mini taco bar.  Quesadillas have a great flavor and the champagne will not overpower them; it is a great match!

Grilled Appetizers

For a summer party, perhaps an outdoor fete, grilled appetizers are the way to go.  Champagne is light and airy, and your appetizers will be, too.  Grilled chicken satay, grilled steak kebabs, or simply some jumbo grilled shrimp may do the trick.


Another light appetizer choice is vegetables.  No, not a boring vegetable tray, although, you may certainly add one of those to any spread. But, in this case, thing stuffed peppers, stuffed mushrooms, asparagus rolls, tomatoes stuffed with goat cheese, grilled cauliflower bites, artichoke and spinach dip, and perhaps even cucumber sandwiches! Again, light fair to complement your light, airy beverage choice!

Flat Bread Pizzas

Finally, why not have a pizza party?  A serve yourself pizza party is fun to prepare, fun to serve and fun to eat!  Pizza goes great with anything, especially champagne!  Find small flatbreads or mini crusts for your guests (even wraps will do) and allow them to add their favorite toppings, which you will have spread out for them.  Pizza is everyone’s favorite, and it puts everyone in a good mood.  Add it to champagne and you have a perfect party!

How to Open a Bottle of Champagne


A bottle of bubbly is the height of sophistication, but to put a twist to a great quote of our generation- with great style comes great responsibility. Being properly able to open a bottle of champagne is an art and fumbling at it will dissolve all your good reputation of charismatic host. In fact, a faux pas in opening this drink may be considered a travesty in some circles. So before you introduce this gem of your alcohol collection, learn a trick or two to do justice to the hundred dollar bottle.

The Proper Way

There are actually not many variations of the normal, proper way of opening a bottle of bubbly, even though hosts often try to alter the steps to wow their guests. But if you are of the more traditional mold, here are the steps to follow:

Make sure the champagne is chilled and calm. There is usually a gold foil wrapped around the cork of the bottle. Tease it out and remove the foil.

Keep the cork pointed away from you (and unsuspecting guests) so that it doesn’t pop out and take out someone’s eye.

You will see a wire frame over the cork which is intended to prevent accidental uncorking, which may occur due to pressure build-up. Loosen the cage and undo it. Also, keep a thumb firmly over the cork to prevent unpleasant surprises.

Put a towel over the cork. Now holding the cork stationary, gently turn the bottle by holding the base. In this way, you get to ease the cork off instead of popping it out. This is definitely less theatrical than popping the cork out, followed by a generous gush of champagne, but it does not waste any of the golden liquid.

Pour the champagne quickly into glasses, but make sure you pour it gently by the side and not splash it down. This way you will not lose the bubbles.

After pouring into each glass, do a quick turn of the bottle a bit to catch the liquid dripping down the lip of the bottle.


This is a tradition of opening a champagne bottle with a sword or a knife and it originated in France in the era of Napoleon. It is a widely popular party trick and is one of the coolest ways to open a champagne bottle. But unlike the popular opinion, it does not require great skill nor is it highly dangerous. Well, not unless you are doing it way wrong. Here’s the how-to:

Remove the foil.

Run a finger below the lip of the bottle and you will find a seam because champagne bottles are made of two pieces of glass.

Slide the dull edge of the knife on the seam from bottom.

In one fluid and mildly forceful motion, slide the knife from the bottom to the neck and pop. If you hold the bottle in a forty five degree angle, there will be little spill and there is no glass breakage.

So there you have, a proper way and a fun way to open a champagne bottle.

The Proper Way to Chill Champagne


Getting the most flavor out of your favorite brut or doux champagne depends on more than picking your favorite vintage. How you choose to chill your champagne before serving can have a dramatic impact on the final taste.

Right Way to Chill Champagne 

There are essentially three ways that you can go about chilling champagne and preparing it ready for your guests.


The first way is through refrigerating your champagne for a few hours before guests arrive. Since the ideal temperature for chilling non-vintage champagne is between 40 and 50 degrees, placing your bottle in the fridge for approximately four hours should set you up perfectly.


Alternatively, though, you could put your champagne in the freezer for 20 minutes to achieve the same effect. You can get similar results by refrigerating your champagne for a few hours at a standard refrigerator temperature (40 degrees) or by placing your bottle in the freezer for 20 minutes.

Ice Bucket 

The third and final way that you might chill champagne before serving is through placing the bottle in a bucket of ice.

Fill an ice bucket half with ice and half with water, then chill your champagne for twenty five minutes. This is the preferred way of serving champagne in many restaurants, and definitely adds a classy touch to a New Year’s Day party.

Obviously, if you’re strapped for time, the ice bucket or freezer options are going to be more intrinsically appealing. The refrigeration option, though, allows you to dial in the exact temperature that you and your guests prefer.

Chilling Vintage Champagne 

Note that the above suggestions apply to non-vintage champagnes. For vintage champagnes you will want to follow a slightly different set of rules to bring out the natural richness.

As you probably already know, vintage champagnes are derived from select grapes in a single year’s selection.

Vintage champagnes like warmer temperatures – getting your vintage to approximately 50 degrees at serving time ensures that the taste and natural carbonation is retained.

Even 55 degrees wouldn’t necessarily be too warm a serving temperature for a vintage like Dom Perignon. Trust us, your guests will thank you for following these steps.

Heed These Storage Tips 

Maintaining the complex tastes and aromas of a vintage champagne – or a non-vintage, for that matter – depends on the right storage conditions.

A wider range of storage conditions can work here. Aim for between 45-60 degrees, but make sure that you’re storing champagne in a cool, dry place. Champagne is even pickier than many wines when it comes to light and temperature.

If you’ve ever wondered why champagne is often packaged in opaque, green bottles, it’s because the darker color makes the champagne more resistant to light (and degradation).

The bottom line is that both non-vintage and vintage champagnes taste best when stored in darker, cooler locations (e.g., a wine cellar). Also make sure that you serve your non-vintage champagnes at approximately 45 degrees and your vintage champagnes at between 50 and 55 degrees for best results.

How Champagne Flavors are Categorized?


Rumor has it that the Romans began cultivating what would later become champagne in France’s Champagne region starting around the fifth century.

Champagne: Past and Present 

Since the days of French kings receiving coronations over delicious champagne and the later innovations by the well-known Benedictine monk Dom Preignon, we’ve certainly come a long way.

Today everything from rose champagnes to prestige cuvees are happily uncorked and used to celebrate good times.

You may have also heard the terms “brut” or “demi-sec” tossed around – this simply refers to the sweetness and the amount of sugar added after secondary fermentation to the champagne itself.

Popular Types of Champagne 

To earn its namesake, all champagne must come from the champagne region of France and get its natural carbonation (“fizziness,” if you will) from a natural process known as secondary fermentation.

Black and White Grapes 

It’s more common for black grapes to be used in creating the cuvee upon which most champagnes are created.

Pinot meunier and the ever-popular pinot noir are two examples of black grape varieties that ultimately comprise some of the most crisp-tasting champagnes today.

Cuvees are also created from white grapes, however. In fact, one type alone, chardonnay, accounts for nearly half a million acres around the world.

Champagne aficionados still love the hints of citrus and smooth, buttery aftertaste of a good chardonnay.

Cuvee de Prestige 

Many producers separate their different offerings based on the vintage and quality of the cuvee as well as nuances of the grape-harvesting process.

For instance, a producer’s cuvee de prestige is that vineyard’s highest quality offering – this class includes Dom Perignon from Moet & Chandron as well as Cristal from Louis Roederer.

These champagnes are so well-received because the cuvees draw on the vineyards’ most vintage offerings.

Rose Champagne 

As the name implies, a rose champagne has the reddish appearance of roses – but why?

Rose champagnes are conversely known as pink champagnes; by whichever name, this kind of champagne gets its color and distinct taste through allowing the black grapes’ skin to soften in a process called the saignee method.

Sometimes a higher concentration of red wine is even added to rose champagne’s cuvee to guarantee the same color and gentler taste from one vintage to the next.

Blanc de Blancs 

In french “blanc” means white, so blanc de blancs translates to “white to white.” This refers to the fact that white chardonnay grapes are used for the cuvee or blanc de blancs.

Pol Roger’s blanc de blancs is especially well-regarded for its creaminess and ability to complement light dishes (e.g., cheese or nuts) or heavier entrees alike.

Champagne’s Sweetness Scale 

An alternative way of looking at champagne is to categorize it based on sweetness, or how much sugar is added after the secondary fermentation process.

Smaller vineyards tend to produce champagnes that are very dry, and either termed extra brut or (more rarely) zero brut. Extra brut means that there’s less than six grams of sugar per liter in the final product whereas zero brut means that there’s less than three grams of sugar per liter.

Moving up in sweetness from the bruts, we have extra dry, sec and demi-sec champagnes. These denote champagnes that have between one dozen and four dozen grams of sugar per liter in the final champagne.

Finally, your doux champagne is going to be the sweetest of the bunch at 50 grams or more per liter. Tastes vary, but many people prefer the crisp, dry flavors nearer the bruts and extra dry part of the spectrum. Stick with what works for you, and enjoy!

Champagne Glasses


Few things can symbolize a very special occasion better than a chilled bottle of champagne. From  intimate dinner parties to wedding dinners, it is the wine of choice when only the best will do. And for true wine lovers the style of glass can enhance or detract from your experience. What kind of glass will work best for you?

The Coupe

This classic shape, a wide rim and short stem, is best associated with the 1920’s flappers or the 1960’s. The glass was designed in 17th century England specifically for drinking champagne. However, the glasses were designed for what were really dessert wines, not the fine wines of the current day.

Critics of the coupe shape, or saucers as they are often called, suggest that the wide bowl is so broad that the carbonation falls flat too quickly. And, with the bubbles falling flat, the aroma is also lost.

For wine connoisseurs and those who love the bubbles, this glass style is not your best choice. If you love the history associated with the glass, then sip quickly and enjoy.

The Tulip

This style of glass is similar in design to he flute, but it has a wider base and he rim is curved inward. Unlike the coupe, wine connoisseurs highly recommend this glass because of its ability to retain your wine’s exquisite flavor.

The round bowl at the bottom of the glass keeps  helps to keep the flavor preserved as you sip your wine. The medium- to long-stemmed glass also keeps your fingers from touching the bowl where the champagne is preventing your fingerprints from warming the wine.

The Flute

The flute overtook the coupe shape because of how well it captures the flavor of the champagne. With a medium or long stem, you can hold the glass without altering the wine’s temperature, and  the glass is the perfect shape for the perfect sip.

The shape of the flute gives the right serving amount to keep it cold, aromatic, and bubbly. The flute glass maintains the effervescence after pouring so the bubbles and aroma stay in the glass. And when the bubbles stay in the glass, you can enjoy the bubbly taste and your glass will be more pleasing to look at.

The Stemless

The latest trends in new glass design include a stemless glass. This bowl-shaped glass enhances the taste and the aroma. Since your fingers are on the bowl warming the champagne, critics still prefer the flute.

The critics agree that the flute is your best choice. But take your time to sample them all to find a style that you love as much as your champagne.

How to Buy Budget Friendly Champagne


Your son’s or daughter’s graduation or an expected promotion: both reasons to crack out the the Dom Perignon and celebrate in style.

Sometimes, though, you need a budget-friendly bottle of bubbly or quality sparkling wine to keep the fridge well-stocked on New Year’s Day. With that in mind, here are some tips and great affordable champagnes to check out.

Finding Budget-Conscious Champagnes 

There are definitely some delicious brut champagnes out there that blend affordability, crisp taste and quality.

Roederer Estate Brut, for instance, comes in at around $20 and features a robust, oak-aged fruity essence. It’s bright and citrusy without being overbearing.

Another standout brut champagne from California is Gloria Ferrer Sonoma. Like Roaderer Estate, Gloria Ferrer Sonoma blends a fruity essence with smoother notes. In this case, you’re getting a mixture of pear and an almond aftertaste.

The secret to these two budget champagne’s is their appellation in California’s vineyards and dedication to quality ingredients. Gloria Ferrer Sonoma starts with nearly two dozen base wines to ultimately give a rich, bubbly and extremely budget-friendly final product.

Wine Spectator magazine even conceded that Gloria Ferrer Sonoma deserved a score in the 90s due to its complex taste that blended pear, cinnamon and raspberry without being overbearing.

Since Gloria Ferrer Sonoma sells for between $15 and $25, you won’t have to break the bank to find out what all the praise is about.

Overall, though, you should keep your eyes peeled for low-cost bruts that bring together an eclectic range of base wines with California appellations.

Nitty-Gritty Specifics to Look For 

Price is obviously a primary consideration when you need a few affordable stand-by (or stand-in) bottles of champagne or you know that quantity is going to trump discernment on, say, a riotous New Year’s celebration.

You should be keeping your eyes peeled for an affordable champagne – under $50 – that draws from a host of quality base wines to form the champagne’s cuvee.

An eclectic range of base wines that undergo two fermentations should also provide more bubbles and ultimately a richer taste. Also be aware that base wines that are tank fermented tend to provide a more airy, fruity taste.

Another thing to keep in mind is that although many brut champagnes tend to have moderate sweetness, there are extra dry champagnes out there that give you more idiosyncratic and interesting honeydew and brioche flavors.

Remember that the majority of budget champagnes tend to be bruts, and make sure you find an affordable champagne that draws from many base wines to bring out a delicious, fruity aftertaste.

Why Are Champagne Corks Made Out of Natural Cork?


There’s just something about natural cork. Newer technology may have its devotees, but there’s a good reason why good, old-fashioned cork is used to seal champagne bottles. Even if you set aside years of tradition and the satisfying “pop” you just can’t get with any other material, there are still plenty of benefits to traditional cork over synthetic materials and screw tops.

How It’s Made

Cork actually comes from the bark of the cork tree, which grows primarily in the montado forests of Portugal. Responsible harvesting makes cork a renewable resource, and small teams typically harvest the bark, allowing the trees to survive and the bark to regrow. The cork bark can usually be be harvested again every nine years.

Once harvested, the cork bark is cured, graded, sorted and then processed into natural cork disks and rods of agglomerate cork. The rods are sliced into the individual corks used to seal champagne bottles, with a natural cork disk affixed to each end.

The Natural Cork Difference

The key characteristic of natural cork that makes it perfect for sealing champagne bottles is its ability to expand. Pressure beverages like champagne – along with sparkling wines, ciders and some beers – are bottled at great pressure, and they require a seal that can prevent the escape of gases while at the same time maintaining the perfect gas pressure within the bottle. That’s where natural cork comes in.

When compressed, natural cork expands. The typical cork used to seal a champagne bottle has a diameter of 31 millimeters, but is compressed down to a diameter of 18 millimeters to fit into the bottle neck. Once in place, the cork naturally continues to expand, which allows it to keep constant pressure against the glass bottle neck. This pressure keeps gas from escaping, and makes natural cork the perfect stopper material for a champagne bottle.

That Tell-Tale Shape

You can tell a natural cork has done its job by its shape when you remove it from the bottle. You’ve probably noticed that corks come out of a champagne bottle with a recognizable mushroom shape, but they don’t go in that way. Corks are straight when they are inserted into the neck. The mushroom shape is the result of the lower half of the cork being compressed into the bottle neck, while the upper half continues to expand.

The Trouble With Synthetic Corks

Unlike natural cork, synthetic corks do not expand. They maintain a rigid shape, which can mean a loose fit and imperfect seal in some bottles. Ill-fitting corks can ruin a bottle of perfectly good wine or champagne.

Natural corks are also difficult to remove without a corkscrew, whereas natural corks are designed to be removed from a champagne bottle by hand. Just remember to never point the bottle at yourself or anybody else while you open it. Champagne bottles stopped with natural cork tend to open with a powerful “pop,” sometimes sending the cork flying. It’s a small price to pay for a perfect seal!