Holiday Time – Bring on the Bubbles!
Although we believe that bubbly wines can be enjoyed year ‘round, there’s something about the holidays that makes us want to pop a cork… or three.
How wine gets its bubbles
All bubbly wines start out fermented in tank or barrels as still wine. When it’s bottled, the winemaker adds a little more yeast and a little sugar (called dosage) and the wine is fermented again, producing bubbles. This is the classic method called méthode champenoise (for Champagne—only wines from the Champagne region of France can be officially called “Champagne”) or méthode traditionelle (for bubbly wines made in this method from anywhere else in the world).
Another method, often used to make affordable wines such as Prosecco or some sparkling wines from California or Spain, is called charmat. In this case, the secondary fermentation takes place in tanks, not bottles—a quicker process.
Did you know that it’s thought that there are one million bubbles in a bottle of champagne? But, really, who’s counting?!
Get your glass on
Flutes (pictured above): This style of glass is tall and narrow. It’s thought that as the bubbles travel up the glass, they tend to get bigger.
Coupe: This style of glass is short and fat. The bubbles tend to stay small, but dissipate more quickly.
White wine glass: We’ve noticed a trend (in the trendiest of restaurants) of serving bubbles in white wine glasses rather than traditional flutes. It may be just part of a general move to less formal but still very fine dining or a way to signal that bubbles can be enjoyed with a meal just like wine. So don’t worry if you don’t have “proper” glassware—a regular wine glass will do just fine.
Opening a bottle of bubbles
Be sure your wine is very cold. Warmer champagne will bubble furiously when opened. If your bottle has a wire “cage” over the cork, unloose it by untwisting the wire, but do not remove completely. Keep the cage on lightly with your thumb while you gently rotate the cork until it release from the bottles with a gentle “pop.” Be sure to point the bottle away from your guests!
When serving, pour in two passes. The first pour should fill the glass halfway. Allow the foam to dissipate, then slowly fill the rest of the glass. This will hopefully avoid any overflow situations.
Feeling daring? Try sabering.
Sabering is a fancy way to open a bottle of champagne, said to have originated with Napoleon’s officers to celebrate a victory in battle. Here’s a video that shows you how…if you dare!
Our bubbly picks for the holidays
In the middle:
Mumm Napa Valley Brut Prestige – $18.99
NV Parigot Crémant de Bourgogne Blanc de Blancs – $22.99
Nicolas Feuillate Brut Reserve – $39.99
Billecart-Salmon Rosé – $74.99
Wishing you and yours a very bubbly holiday! Cheers!