Ready for New Year's Eve? Here are five Champagne tips for party-givers and party goers:
1. Clean Glassware
By "clean" I don't mean free of dirt and debris, but instead free of soap residue, as many liquid detergents don't rinse off completely. Aside from imparting undesired lemon and lavender scents in your wine, they will cause Champagne to go flat faster or prevent your wine from adhering to the glass and releasing aromatic qualities.
Tip: For hard to clean decanters use an unscented denture cleaner. After a little soak and good rinse, your crystal is good as new.
2. Correct Glassware
Each wine has various qualities and aromas; science has proved that these molecular compounds release differently based on the shapes and sizes of glassware. By picking the right glass for the right wine, you will truly enhance your enjoyment of the wine.
Trick: Champagne served in a traditional flute is fun and festive, but a bit prohibitive in regards to maximum enjoyment. I typically enjoy my champagne in a traditional chardonnay or white wine glass. Though the bubbles may dissipate a touch faster, the explosive aromatics are well worth the trade off.
3. Correct Temperature
Unfortunately, in our culture white wines are often served too cold, and red wines too warm. Depending on their styles, Champagne shows very well at 40-45F, white wines 45-52F, and red wines 55-65F. Tip: Since most home refrigerators are between 35-40F, I often take a white or Champagne out for 30 minutes or so before drinking. Should you not have a "wine cellar" and your home is a typical room temp, put the red in the fridge for 15 to 30 minutes before serving depending on the desired chill.
4. Opening Champagne
Though it can be fun to let the bottle "blow its top," it can be quite dangerous ... especially if you have an heirloom vase perched on your side table. When removing the cork, keep the cage in place.
Tip: This is actually designed to act as a wrench in assisting to loosen the cork. Once unwound, it usually only takes about a 1/4 turn of the bottle to break the seal. Once that happens let the natural pressure of approximately 90 PSI do the work for you. Once you feel the pressure begin to force the cork out, hold the bottle tight and mimic pushing the cork back in. This should give you an effortless release of the cork, keeping the decibel level down and the bubbly in the bottle.
5. Buying the right bottle
If you are planning on mixing cocktails with your bubbles, look to a less expensive alternative to traditional Champagne. Spanish Cava and Italian Prosecco are a perfect match for fruit juices and liquor enhancements; many can be found retail for under $15. Should the bottle be to toast as an aperitif or enjoy with your meal, this is the time to make an upgrade that will be noticed.
Tip: In today's culture of artisan food and beverage elements, look to support the little guys who are family farmers. These are called Grower Champagne and can be recognized by the "RM" written very small on the edge of the label. Though not inexpensive, these wine will always impress you with their quality.