With out a doubt, bubbles turn any occasion up a notch. Whether you are celebrating a graduation, a marriage, New Year’s or an ordinary Friday night, grab a bottle of Champagne, Prosecco or sparkling wine and follow these 5 quick tips for cooling, opening and serving your bottle in a way to get the best out of your bubbly.
To open a bottle of sparkling wine sans the infamous bubble-wasting “pop,” it is mission critical to get a proper chill on the bottle.
Shoot for about 45 °F or 8 °C. To get the right amount of chill, pop the bottle into the freezer for an hour, the refrigerator for three hours or place it in a bucket of half ice and half water for 20 minutes (a personal favorite).
The Battle of the Cork
About 90 pounds per square inch of pressure sits just behind the slightly flared cork of a Champagne wine bottle. That’s well over double the pressure in the typical car tire and enough pep in the pop to do some serious damage. A well-chilled bottle prevents the cork from launching.
- Remove the foil capsule.
- While keeping your thumb on the cork, untwist the ring of the wire cage and remove.
- Always angle the bottle at 45° pointing away from people and ceiling lights (I speak from experience!).
- Ease the cork up and out, by lightly pushing on the cork with your thumb and rotating the bottle in the other direction.
- Once the cork sighs open you are ready to pour. Fluted glasses are best for Champagne and sparkling wines as they encourage the bubbles to collect and rise to the top allowing the full aroma to concentrate near the surface. Go slow when pouring the bubbly, to avoid frothing, and allow glasses to settle a moment before topping them off.
The Champagne Flute vs. Wine Glass
There’s a bit of a debate in the sparkling wine world over whether bubbles should be served in a classic, slender flute glass or a white wine glass. Those that prefer to preserve the bubbles tend towards the flute. While fans of aromatics, lean towards the white wine glass where the wine will gain more access to oxygen and open up more fully on the nose. Try both. See what you prefer.
Champagne and Sparkling Wine Storage
Once opened, Champagne and sparkling wines may be stored for a few days in the refrigerator with the help of a handy Champagne stopper, which helps to keep the wine from oxidizing too rapidly. As for long-term storage, Champagnes and sparkling wines may be cellared horizontally like other wines, but do not necessarily benefit from additional aging.
Pairing Champagne and Sparkling Wines with Food
Champagnes and many sparkling wines tend to pair well with a variety of appetizers: classic caviar, chocolate-covered strawberries, both mild and strong cheeses and hold up particularly well with spicy Asian cuisine. Potato chips and popcorn both pair surprisingly well with Champagne and sparkling wine due to the salt factor. Bubbly wine is generally more versatile than still wines for pairing with food, making it an ideal celebratory drink that may accommodate occasions ranging from New Year’s Parties to weddings.
By Stacy Slinkard, AboutFood