Fruit and Champagne

 

fruit-and-champagne

The great thing about champagne is that it goes so well with a wide variety of foods.  When you think of champagne there are probably a slew of food pairings that will immediately come to mind.  The classic cheese and champagne pairing is and has always been there, but there are always fruit options as well.  When it comes to fruit, many champagne lovers want to know which fruits are going to go best with their glass of bubbly.

The fruit choices that you can go with when go are drinking champagne are going to fall into a few different categories.  It really depends on the taste that you are looking to get out of the combination.  No matter which way you cut it though, fruit and champagne are truly great together.  Their combination can make for some amazing tastes that are going to get your buds dancing and make the bubbly that much more enjoyable.

Berries Everywhere

The first type of fruit that is going to go absolutely perfectly with champagne is that of berries.  When you have a light champagne, berries are what you want to be reaching for.  The sweet taste of berries can really get the palette ready to enjoy champagne that much more.  This pairing is truly hard to top when you are talking about champagne and fruit.  The berries could be any of your favorite, classic berries.  This means strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, they are all going to make for great options to go with champagne.

Stone Fruits

The other option for you when it comes to pairing fruit with champagne is to go with stone fruits.  These include such fruits as peaches and plums.  These may seem like a strange combination at first glance, but give it a try.  The way that they come together with the light taste of champagne and sparkling wine is beyond delectable.

The fruit and champagne pairing is one that continues to really make waves.  There is nothing like having some berries or stone fruits with a nice, light glass of bubbly.  Pairing fruit with champagne can give you a sweet and smooth taste that will get your taste buds dancing and will have you never looking back.  If you have never paired fruit with champagne before, now is the time to give it a try.  When you grab that glass of champagne, pair it with fruit and let the tastes soar.

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

Ingredients:

  • 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.

Ingredients:

  • 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.
5-champagne-cocktails-perfect-for-your-next-gathering

Ingredients:

  • 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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

Ingredients:

  • 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.

 

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.

Terrazza

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.

Is There a Difference Between Sparkling Wine and Champagne?

So is there really a difference between sparkling wine and Champagne? They all have the same effervescence and make the same sound when the bottle is uncorked; however, there some key differences that go beyond the name of the wine.

difference between sparkling wine and champagneAbout Champagne

The first thing to note about Champagne is that it is a sparkling wine. The second thing is that it comes from the Champagne region of France. The name “Champagne” is used only for wines from this specific region. There are many other kinds of sparkling wines, but those other types are not called Champagne since they are not made in the Champagne region. The Champagne region has a mild climate along with a chalky soil that is rich in minerals. The result is that the grapes grown in that soil are uniquely flavorful.

Another important fact that separates Champagne from other sparkling wines is that it has to be made in accordance with the appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) designation. This designation ties a product to its region of origin and regulates numerous aspects of the production process including climate and technique. Along with Champagne, calvados and armagnac also have AOC status.

Méthode Champenoise is the term for the process of making Champagne. Méthode Champenoise involves two-step fermentation. The grape juice is fermented prior to bottling and then it is bottled to trap CO2. That trapped CO2 is what forms the bubbles that make Champagne effervescent.

Another important fact about Champagne is that it can only be made with six grape varietals. The most commonly used grapes are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. Champagne can be made with Pinot Blanc, Petit Meslier and Arbane grapes; however, these are not as commonly used as the first three.

Grapes for making Champagne must be handpicked and the clusters must be pressed whole without being destemmed. The AOC dictates that the grapes can only be pressed twice. This is how the concentrated cuvée is made.

Other Sparkling Wines

Sparkling wines are made all over the world with different methods formulated to bring out different qualities in each wine. For instance sparkling wines can differ in terms of the size of the bubbles and the level of fruitiness. The different varieties of sparkling wines include:

Prosecco.  This is a dry (or very dry) Italian sparkling wine with larger bubbles. Prosecco is widely used for making mixed drinks.

Cava.  Made from Macabeu grapes, this Spanish sparkling wine is said to have a very similar flavor to Champagne. Cava production was modeled after champagne production though the grapes used are mostly indigenous Spanish grapes. Similar to champagne, cava can only come from a few specific regions in Spain and must be made using a specific method. The Spanish equivalent of Methode Champenoise is called “Método Tradicional.”

Sekt.  This is Germanys’ sparkling wine. In most cases, it is sweeter and contains less alcohol than Champagne. It can also contain other aromas including that of pears and apples.

In order to determine whether a wine should be classified as Champagne or sparkling, you need only to look at where it was made.

In most cases, sparkling wine will be much less expensive when compared to champagne. If you are trying to choose between the two types, think about how you expect to use the wine. If you want to drink a quality wine, go with Champagne or one of the higher-rated sparkling wines. Choose a prosecco or other lower quality sparkling wine if you plan to make mixed drinks.

How Champagne Flavors are Categorized?

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.

http://www.wine-searcher.com/m/2014/03/the-best-blanc-de-blancs

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!

How to Buy Inexpensive Champagne

how-to-buy-inexpensive-champagne

The words “inexpensive champagne” may fill you with horror, but inexpensive doesn’t have to carry all the connotations of “cheap”. In fact, going off the beaten track and avoiding the big brand names can lead to some fabulous discoveries that will be perfect for anything from the holiday season to family celebrations.

Champagne or Cava?

The first thing you can do to slash costs without losing quality is to head for other sparkling bubbly that can’t use the name by virtue of where it is produced. Prosecco, cava, and other sparkling wines are  similar type substitutes that can taste like they are ten times the price you paid for them. As with any wine, it’s a matter of personal taste, so if you’re sampling with a particular occasion in mind, be careful to do your physical research (i.e. drinking!) as well as reading online and offline reviews.

Deals and Steals

Close to the holiday season, retailers are keen to attract customers with good deals on food and drink, so if you find a variety you like, look out for offers such as free bottles for multibuys, and discounts with other purchases. Again, be wary, as this can often be a way to get rid of bottles that haven’t been so well-received, or are otherwise not selling for a variety of reasons.

The Right Stuff

If it absolutely has to be the real deal, from the Champagne region of France, then there are some familiar names that provide value as well as a guarantee that you are getting quality. A smart move is look for growers in valleys close to the big names, and try their produce, which is often a third of the price of wines bottled further up or down the valley. Additionally, choose bottles which are non-vintage, and save the premier label varieties for truly special occasions.

Can you tell the difference?

If you look at this interesting comparison site, you will see that there’s just a hair of difference between champagne and cava, and even the grape varieties and production methods may be more or less identical. Could you tell the difference between a bottle of champagne and a bottle of cava from the same kind of grape and the same kind of soil? Probably not, unless you have a really sensitive palate, but your wallet will notice a saving of anything up to 50%.

Although champagne isn’t going anywhere in terms of the enduring romance of being a prestigious and celebratory wine, it’s interesting to note that in 2013, Prosecco outsold other sparkling wines worldwide for the first time.

Unique Champagne and Food Pairings

unique-champagne and-food-pairings

Champagne is a great way to make your meals classier. Having a fine wine to sip while enjoying the ambiance of a place, listening to a soothing background music, and eating lavish dishes is one’s definition of a perfect date.

It goes without saying that there are certain types of food that goes best with fine wine. There is really no absolute way to determine the perfect champagne food pairings, but we can give you some ideas of what to serve, or eat, while enjoying a delicious bottle of your favorite fine wine. Today, we will cover these food pairings, and a little about champagne in general.

What’s Special About Champagne?

As we all know, champagne is a type of fine wine. However, when we talk about champagne, we are referring to a particular type of fine wine that is produced specifically using grapes that are grown in the Champagne wine region in France. This type of fine wine also follows certain rules on its production in order to be classified as a “champagne.” Another thing to note is that champagne can only be made by three grape types that are:

  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Meunier
  • Pinot Noir

This may clear up the difference between wine and champagne. Now let’s get on to five unique champagne food pairings:

1. Roasted Goose

Roasted goose is a must-try when having a sip of your favorite champagne. The flavor of the chicken is just enough to stimulate your appetite, while not overpowering the sweetness of champagne at the same time. It is better to baste the goose with a mildly-acidic sauce like orange or plum for a better combination of flavors

2. Seafood Hors d’oeurve

Champagne does well with seafood hors d’oeurve because of their saltiness. The flavor’s presence in seafood appetizers combined with the flavor of the champagne is something to try out. If you want to be classier, try combining smoked salmon with Roquefort cheese. The richness of the flavor of the salmon and cheese combined with the sweetness of the champagne will make an elegant pairing.

3. Truffles

Truffles have their own unique flavor, and they are harvested in the autumn. When you get truffles in season, their flavors complement the flavors of champagne as there will be a symphony of flavors in your mouth.

4. Sushi

Champagne paired with sushi is a different way of enjoying the meal. Sushi comes in different forms, but offers the same delicious and mild taste that is good for an appetizer. Pairing it with champagne gives it more flavor and more reasons to enjoy this traditional Japanese recipe.

5. Cheese

Nothing goes wrong when you pair champagne with cheese. Almost all types of cheese are great to pair with champagne. Cheeses are good with champagne because its flavor is not overpowering, but is still enough to stimulate your taste. There are a lot of types of cheese to choose from, but the best combinations would be Gouda, brie, Colby, and mild cheddar.

You’ve seen a few unique food pairings for champagne, but in reality, champagne food pairings are endless. You just have to know how to balance the flavor of the food and the wine in order to create a pairing that will be worthy to a sommelier’s taste buds. Don’t be afraid to try different champagne and food combinations. There will surely be a pair or two that will stand out and will have your sense of taste fully stimulated.

What Appetizers Pair Best With Champagne?

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

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.

Quesadillas

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.

Vegetables

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!

Why is Champagne Bubbly?

why-is-champagne-bubblyChampagne (and sparkling wine) has long been associated with celebration, romance, and the finer things in life. Whether you are planning a party for one hundred of your closest friends or wish to share a special evening with your spouse, the tingle of champagne bubbles will enhance any occasion. Yet, few of us understand the science inside those little bubbles; since its the bubbles that separate regular wine from champagne, learning more about how those bubbles get into each bottle can be fascinating.

All Champagne and Sparkling Wine Begins on the Vine

As with the production of regular wine, champagne production begins with one or more types of grapes harvested at perfect ripeness. Depending on the type and quality of the final product, grape varieties will be selected to produce white, pink, and occasionally red champagnes ranging from dry to sweet. After the first fermentation process is complete, these wines require a second fermentation to become the bubbly, sparkling beverage many of you enjoy.

Three methods are available to transform wine into champagne, although technically only one will produce genuine champagne, while the other two methods produce sparkling wine (for technical purposes, the terms champagne and sparkling wine are often interchangeable, but for true champagne enthusiasts, the distinction may be of importance).

True Champagnes are Aged for Long Periods of Time

To receive classification as true champagne, the slow, traditional method of fermenting fine wine into its bubbly cousin by adding additional yeast and sugar to the wine must take place in the French city of Champagne itself, where bottles are stored for at least 15 months to allow the natural fermentation process plenty of time to develop bubbles that last a long time after the bottle is opened. During the second fermentation period, the bottles are slowly turned upside down to allow the fermentation residue to settle in the neck of the bottles. After a brief freezing which forces the residue out of the bottles, one more dosage of yeast and sugar is added to each bottle which is then corked, caged, and allowed to ferment for many more months or even years for some of the finest champagne varieties.

Simpler Methods Produce Bubbles at a Lower Cost

The tank method, while technically producing sparkling wine as opposed to champagne, allows the wine to undergo a second fermentation with the addition of yeast and sugar in a large pressurized tank as opposed to individual bottles. Since the bubbly, sparkling wine is bottled under pressure, the bubbles remain in tact until the bottle is opened and enjoyed, producing a similar experience as their more expensive champagne relatives at a more affordable cost.

The lowest priced sparkling wines are produced with the bicycle pump method. This entire process is completed under pressure in the same manner used to produce carbonated sodas. Carbon dioxide is the gaseous agent that allows the bubbles to liven up traditional wine varieties, and although these bubbles won’t last as long as those produced with the previous two methods, in many situations, that bubbly treat will disappear into the mouths of those enjoying the celebration at hand before they have time to escape.

There is a Perfect Champagne or Sparkling Wine Variety for Every Occasion

Regardless of whether you wish to share sparkling wine varieties produced with carbon dioxide for a large group of people or are celebrating a very special evening that calls for only the finest true champagne imported directly from France, the large number of champagne and sparkling wine products available allow everyone the opportunity to enjoy simple elegance any time of the year.

How to Build a Champagne Fountain

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.

What Does Bubble Size Say About A Champagne?

what-does-bubble-size-say-about-champagne

Drinking champagne is as much a cultural phenomenon as a culinary one. We celebrate grand openings, graduations and marriages by popping the cork on a quality champagne, and we also enjoy a creamy brut champagne paired with our favorite appetizer perhaps almost as much as the overarching occasion.

Bubbles in Champagne 

Often colloquially referred to as “bubbly,” the bubbles in champagne actually have a lot to do with the popularity of, say, a brut over a doux champagne.

History 

Although today we can dine over a Krug or Laurent-Perrier brut without worrying about much of anything, this wasn’t always the case.

Champagne was once called the devil’s wine because of its propensity to spontaneously explode – sometime causing a chain reaction in fermenting cellars.

In fact, the famous 17th-century champagne trailblazer, Dom Perignon, was commissioned to remove the bubbles from the champagnes in his cellar.

Even two centuries after Dom Perignon, it wasn’t uncommon to lose half of your fermenting inventory to exploding bottles of especially bubbly champagne.

Less is More 

Champagne enthusiasts claim that the smaller the bubbles, the better the champagne. The thinking goes that when you have smaller bubbles in the same size glass, then there are more total bubbles on hand to deliver a full-bodied taste and richer aroma.

The actual bubbles in champagne are created through the secondary fermentation process that sparkling wine undergoes to eventually become champagne.

Though this secondary fermentation process, the sparkling wine becomes champagne and, in the same process, gets carbonated. Carbonation, or the infusion of carbon dioxide into champagne, is what makes champagne and soda alike fizzy or effervescent.

Unlike soda, though, champagne is created by taking select pinot noir and chardonnay grapes plucked from orchards in the Champagne region of France to ultimately deliver a creamy champagne tasting experience.

Research on Champagne’s Carbonation 

Although both soda and champagne, for all of their differences, each has an appreciable level of “fizzy” or carbonation, the carbonation is created in different ways for each beverage.

Champagne gets its bubbles and carbonated quality in a more hard-won way through secondary fermentation whereas soda gets its bubbles through an artificial process of a carbon dioxide injection.

In an interesting twist, though, research shows that the diffusion of carbon dioxide in sparkling wine and champagne are reasonably similar – much more similar than one would suppose given that champagne has smaller and more tightly packed bubbles.

It’s subsequently been shown that, although the amount of carbonation wrought by secondary fermentation has a lot to do with champagne’s fizziness, the bubbles in champagne are largely attributable to other causes.

It’s now believed that elemental minerals and naturally-occuring salts create more of champagne’s bubbles than was previously acknowledged (or understood) centuries ago.

Science Behind Champagne’s Bubbles 

Secondary fermentation and carbonation are fundamentally chemical processes that provide a real-world and visceral payoff for those of use who enjoy champagne.

One of the pleasures of champagne, if we’re going to be frank, is watching the tiny bubbles make their way up to the top of the glass and anticipating that first taste.

As these tiny bubbles make their brave trek up to the top of the glass, the bubbles themselves are transporting flavors and scents up the glass – and, hopefully, towards our parched mouths.

We almost automatically correlate a great tasting champagne with an explosion of bubbles at the top of our glass because more tiny bubbles means that more flavor and scents are traveling up the glass.

This spectacle, in the end, is half the battle when it comes to creating a creamy yet dry and savory champagne.

How Champagne Flavors are Categorized

how-champagne-flavors-are-categorizedChampagne is an oft-misunderstood beverage. The processes by which it is formed, its taste, and even its naming conventions can baffle even a seasoned wine aficionado. While champagne may mystify experienced imbibers and practiced gourmands alike, the basics behind how it is classified are quite simple to understand.

Just as many types of wine are categorized by their flavor profiles, champagnes too are often classified according to how they taste. All champagnes can be categorized according to their level of dryness. This quality is inversely related to sugar content and corresponding sweetness. This means that less sweet champagnes are invariably drier than sweeter varieties. Wine connoisseurs, it must be said, tend to value the sophistication of drier varieties over the simple pleasures of sweet champagnes.

Whether you are carefully selecting a champagne for a celebration, or simply trying to find the one most suitable for your weekday meal, you can use the following categories to guide your purchase:

  •     Doux
  •     Demi-sec
  •     Dry
  •     Extra Dry
  •     Brut
  •     Extra Brut

If you were seeking a sweet, sugary champagne, you would do well to purchase a Doux or Demi-sec variety. These sorts of champagnes pair well with fruits and desserts. Their natural sweetness can harmonize well with either and provide your guests with a satisfyingly sweet conclusion to their meals. In addition, if you are feeling bold, you can successfully pair a Doux or Demi-sec with a salty dish. The natural sweetness of these champagnes complements the salty flavors in Asian and Latin American dishes, further enlivening them on the palate.

Extra Brut and Brut (pronounced “broot“) are dry varieties and tend to pair better with entrees and cheeses than do Doux and Demi-sec champagnes. Extra Brut champagnes function best as aperitifs. They are best served before a meal when their natural tartness and astringency can be used to stimulate the appetite. Brut champagne, which has a crisp, bracing dryness leavened with subtly sugary notes, is the most popular of all champagne varieties. It is versatile and can accompany either entrees or desserts successfully. Extra Brut and Brut champagnes can, in fact, make admirable accompaniments to subtly sweet desserts. They make excellent companions to desserts containing dark and semi-sweet chocolate, as well as fruit-based sweets.

While champagnes are commonly classified according to the dryness-sweetness scale outlined above, there are a range of characteristics you can you use to help you select just the right champagne for any occasion. All champagnes can reasonably be said to possess apple, pear, citrus, cream, vanilla, and nutty notes in their flavor profiles. Generally, however, fruitier notes tend to prevail in New World champagnes while their Old World opposites feature creamy, yeasty and nut-like flavors. Old World varieties are often more subtle, while New World champagnes can possess a forward and assertive sweetness that makes them suitable as dessert wines or for celebrations.

Champagne has an undeserved reputation for unsophistication. It is irreducibly associated with sweetness and, as a result, often paired only with foods complementing this dimension of its often complex flavor profile. Champagne is typically paired with chocolates, fruits, and cheese and while these pairings are not misguided they do tend to foreground only one aspect of the beverage’s multifaceted personality. Champagne, if selected carefully, can be paired with many different food items.  It is neither less sophisticated nor less versatile than wine. One needs only to understand its flavor spectrum to incorporate it into any occasion.

The Downside to Refrigerating Champagne for Long Periods

the-downside-to-refrigerating-champagne-for-long-periods

Champagne is the universal celebratory drink for all of life’s most memorable occasions. Whether it’s the birth of a baby, graduation, or a wedding, you will most likely find bubbling Moet or some other variety of Champagne. However, sometimes you may purchase one or two bottles too many.

In this instance, it’s best to know how to store Champagne. Continue reading to learn more about storing Champagne and the downsides of keeping it refrigerated for long periods of time.

How to Store Champagne?

Essentially, Champagne should be stored like any other alcohol. As long as the bottle isn’t opened, it should be stored in a dry, cool, and dark place. Most people store Champagne in cellars and in pantries, which are both excellent places. It’s best to avoid storing Champagne in places where the temperatures fluctuate often.

How Long Can Champagne Last?

Similar to other wines, Champagne has an extremely long shelf life when it is stored properly. However, this doesn’t mean all bottles of Champagne are designed to be stored for years. In general, there are two different types of Champagnes: vintage and regular.

Storing Vintage Champagne

Vintage Champagne is designed to be stored for long periods of time as it continues to age in the bottle. Overtime, the taste of these Champagnes changes and becomes richer and more robust. The majority of wine connoisseurs will agree these aged Champagnes are better.

Storing Regular Champagne

In contrast, these regular bottles of Champagne do not get better with time. They are designed to be stored for a few years at the very most.

Champagne and Refrigeration

Once you open a bottle of Champagne, it’s best to finish it in the same day. If you don’t, you may be able to store it in the fridge for a few days, but the bottle will become flat and lose it taste after a couple of days.

However, refrigerator isn’t the ideal solution for long-term storage. Refrigerators are much colder than the majority of wine storage facilities. When storing Champagne, 50 degree is the sweet spot. Refrigerators are much colder than this and have humidity levels that is bad for the Champagne.

While it may be cool to keep the bottle in the fridge for a few weeks, it’s best to avoid storing Champagne in the refrigerator for long periods of time. Another downside of storing Champagne in the refrigerator is the light may damage the bottle.

When Champagne is released from the producer’s cellar, it’s at the optimum drinking age. However, many bottles are able to be exquisitely aged. To achieve this expert aging, it requires that the bottle to be kept cool, but not freezing in an average level of humidity. Even though it may be possible to regulate humidity in a fridge, it’s much easier to simply keep the bottle cool.

If you are planning on taking a bottle to someone’s house to drink for the night, fill a bucket half way with ice and then top it off with water. Leave the bottle in there for approximately 20 minutes and you should be fine.

The Proper Way to Chill Champagne

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.

Refrigerating 

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.

Freezing 

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.

Learning About Champagne and How to Serve It

learning-about-champagne-and-how-to-serve-itTo be socially cognizant, you should understand how to read  champagne labels, the correct way to serve champagne, and become experienced in selecting the different champagnes made from different grapes to produce dry or sweet champagnes. By learning these procedures plus the correct pronunciation of terms, names and when to use them will cement your standing in any elegant gathering of wine connoisseurs.

A Wine By Any Other Name…

The only wines which legally can be called champagne are produced in the Champagne province of France. The grape juices are selected, mixed and stored to ferment in the primary fermentation process. The second fermentation gives champagne required effervescence, after which it ages for many years.

There are several groupings categorizing champagne:

  • Non-vintage blends are from juice of a number of harvests and don’t identify a vintage year;
  • Vintage blends only use the yield of a single year’s harvest, and it is registered on their label.  Vintage Champagnes indicate all grapes used were harvested from one particular year. According to regulations, Vintage Champagne must be aged for 3 years or more.
  • Rose champagne achieves the color adding fermented pinot noir grape skins to tint the wine;
  • Cuvees de prestige are made from only the best grapes from the top vineyards.

Sweet Or Dry?

Within these categories, champagnes are also typed according to sweetness, listing demi-sec and doux as sweetest champagnes and brut or extra brut tasting the driest.  Sweetness is acquired by sugaring wine just before the final corking.

How To Serve With Panache

Champagne must be chilled to 50 degrees in your refrigerator, never the freezer, or in the alternative, in a bucket of ice and water just before serving.

When opening the bottle, point the cork away from people and objects.  First undo the wire caging around the cork, and holding the cork in your hand firmly, hold the bottle in your other hand.  Slowly turn the bottle, not the cork, until the cork begins to free, and bend the cork as it exits the bottle.

Label Information On French Champagne Bottles

  • NM Negociant ManipulantFirm or person buying grapes, juices or win and completes production.
  • RM Recoltant ManipulantFirm or person producing wine on its own premises only.
  • RC Recoltant Cooperateur – Grower who supplies grapes to cooperatives.
  • CM Cooperative de Manipulation -Co-op which creates and sells wines of its membership.
  • Societe de RecoltantsFamily business harvesting solely by family.
  • MA Marque  d’ Acheteur – The buyer’s own brand, made and labeled with name on label although brand belongs to another. Custom restaurant brands are in this classification.
  • ND Negociant Distributeur – A merchant who buys wines and labels bottles in his own premises with custom labels.

Label Information On American Wines

United States Vineyards are mandated to have the following information on each bottle of wine created here:

  1.  Brand and Producer creating the wine.
  2.  State, County, AVA – geographic area where a majority of its grapes grew. Usually, 75% + of grapes must be grown in the stipulated area, and if AVA specific, then 85%+ is required.
  3.  Vintage  states the year the content grapes were harvested.
  4.  Name and Address of Producer must be listed, plus the process.  If Estate bottled, grapes must be grown, crushed, finished, aged, fermented and bottled there.
  5.  Alcohol percentage measured by ABV not proof: 40% ABV, not 80 proof.
  6.  Volume –Number of milliliters in the bottle.
  7.  Health Warning warns to avoid alcohol and sulfides when pregnant.

Sulfide warnings are labeled in the USA due to allergies and dangers to pregnant women. Other countries do not require.