N° 10 / HOW TO OPTIMISE YOUR CHAMPAGNE EXPERIENCE?
WHAT ARE THE BIGGER SIZES OF CHAMPAGNE BOTTLES?
For around fifteen flutes, crack open a magnum rather than two ordinary-sized bottles. And if you’re expecting a really big crowd? Pop the cork on a 3-litre jeroboam (31 glasses, 4 bottles) or even better, why not haul out a 6-litre methuselah (61 glasses, 8 bottles)? Think big!
WHAT IS THE PERFECT TEMPERATURE TO DRINK CHAMPAGNE?
For champagne, too cold a temperature (less than 6°C) reduces the fizz, alters the aromas and even numbs the taste buds. On the other hand, too warm a temperature (above 14°C) creates excess foam, which can make the bottle harder to open and mask its aromas. So you must remember this: 8°C for the perfect taste, structure and aroma.
HOW TO OPEN A BOTTLE OF CHAMPAGNE?
First turn the bottle gently upside down and create an absolutely even temperature. Next, hold the bottle in one hand – by the body and not by the neck. Release the bottle from its foil cap by pulling the tab.
Uncover the wire cage, which holds the cork in place. Loosen then remove it, leaving the cork fully exposed. Hold it firmly in one hand, slightly tilted. Keep the thumb of your other hand firmly on the cork to control the air pressure. Now, here’s the secret for success: turn the bottle, not the cork, so that the latter slips away from the side of the bottle at each turn.
Let the bottle hiss gently, building up to a sweet little pop: the perfect music to titillate the taste buds and lift the spirits. After all, the sign of true class is elegance and discretion.
WHAT KIND OF GLASS TO SERVE CHAMPAGNE IN?
Serving champagne in wine glasses is recommended second to flutes. Those for fine wines, with a high stem and a large bowl, are perfect for capturing the specific flavour of old vintage champagnes that are full-bodied and mature.
Or opt for tulip-shaped glasses, not as narrow as flutes but more slender than the classic wine glass, which concentrate the flavours while allowing room for full effervescence.
HOW TO FILL THE GLASSES?
To avoid spillage, it is better to serve in two phases: the trick is to pour an initial amount of wine, slowly tilting the glass – the flow along the wall will promote the formation of bubbles.
Take a pause to allow the foam to subside, then pour a second time to fill half (or two thirds) of the glass.
HOW TO CONSERVE CHAMPAGNE?
How long to keep your wine in the cellar? One thing is plain and simple: the more champagne combines the criteria of excellence (great vintage, extended ageing, etc.), the longer it is worth storing if you are sensitive to sophisticated aromas of dried fruit, underbrush, or even mushrooms.
Conversely, non-vintage brut champagne is not intended to be kept to one side for long, so drink it quickly to take advantage of its freshness and fruitiness.
A happy life of champagne is one lived out of sight. And lying down! When horizontal, the contact with the wine allows the cork to retain its elasticity, and therefore its water-tightness. In addition, stillness and calm contribute to good conservation: do not handle your bottles incessantly, leave them alone until the time has come to take them back up into the light for tasting.