[Editor's Note: If five things is too many, MetroWestWines.com has another blog post featuring three tips for New Year's Champagne. To make sure you're an expert, we recommend reading all eight!]
Today, I would like to provide a few hints for doing some basic stuff, chilling, opening, pouring & serving, saving leftovers, and storing unopened bottles.
Chill Out man!
For your peak Champagne experience, serve at a temperature between 43-48 degrees F.
You can cool your Champagne in the fridge (leave it there too long though, and it may start to taste just a bit like that leftover Super Variety Bucket of KFC you have in there!) A room temperature bottle placed it in the the fridge for 45 minutes should be enough to bring it to the proper serving temperature.
For best results, and best presentation, cool your Champagne in a bucket of ice and water. Some so called experts recommend adding rock salt to the bucket. We say, this is fine wine, not a science fair project, but if you’d like to try it, go ahead, supposedly it speeds up the chilling process.
If you’re really in a hurry, chill in the freezer, but, we have seen more than one expensive bottle explode in a freezer leaving a very gooey glass encrusted mess to clean up. Not that I’ve done this myself. Well, maybe once. Or twice. Anyway don’t say I didn’t warn you.
In the land of the blind, the one eyed man shall be king.
Removing a champagne cork is a simple process when approached with some basic common sense.You have a few layers to get through before actually getting to the cork of a sparkling wine bottle.
First, remove enough foil from the top of the bottle to reveal the cork, and the wire cage. On the side of the wire cage you’ll see wire twisted into a little circular handle. Slowly untwist the handle, keep a thumb on top of the cork, and point the bottle away from yourself and any other living being in the room you really care about! Just to be clear, the reason the wire is there is that the champagne cork could release at any moment at near supersonic speeds thus causing injury, dismemberment and in rare cases death. Historically, some collateral damage to furnishing, rare art and light fixtures has also been reported. If you have have a humorous story involving a champagne cork, we love to hear about it.
Once the cage has been removed, (and that cool little metal cap) keep a firm grip on the bottle while holding the cork with your other hand. Now, slowly twist the bottle (not the cork.) Your mission here is for the cork to emerge from the bottle with a just small pssst and not a loud explosion. The louder the pop, the fewer bubbles you will enjoy later. And that’s the point of all this, enjoyment.
Enough with the poor pour me...
Selecting the right glass deserves some consideration. There are three types of Champagne glass -- the classic coupe, the tulip and the flute. Champagne glasses should be cleaned with warm water and no soap as this will not only interfere with the bubbles but will also taint the taste of the champagne itself. I’m a tulip guy, but some swear by flutes. At this point, coupe style glasses have been pretty much relegated to episodes of Mad Men and for serving Shirley Temples to kids in Chinese restaurants.
Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for! You’ve been very patient up to this point. Now, hold the bottle by placing your thumb into the dimple at the bottom of the bottle (known as the punt) and spread your fingers across bottom of the bottle.At first, this type of grip may feel a little strange, but hang in there, you’ll soon realize that you can indeed maintain a firm grip on the bottle. Plus it looks very cool. And suave.
Use a napkin to wipe the rim of the bottle then pour a small splash into the bottom of each glass, returning to each glass, fill to three quarters full with champagne. This process will avoid the dreaded foaming over of the champagne.
When I deploy our champagne stopper, I’m surprised how many people ask, “What is that?” Stoppers work best if you have saving at least one half of a full bottle, and for no more than 24 hours. In reality we rarely have leftover champagne.
What’s in store?
For best results, and long term enjoyment of your sparkling wine, we suggest making the investment in a wine chiller, sometimes also known as a cooler. Remember that sparkling wine bottles are considerably larger than still wine bottles, so a cooler listed at 60 bottles, may in fact only hold 30 or 40. Look for a cooler that has adjustable racks so that you can fit in more bottles and whose temperature can be adjusted lower that the recommended temps of white wine.
So, that’s it! I love Champagne and not just for special occasions. But what better way to make a special occasion even more special. Enjoy, and Happy New Year from Metro West Wines. Oh yes, and we’d love to hear from you! Cheers!