So tomorrow is the one night of the year that most of us drink sparkling wine (ok, also on your anniversary), so it's no surprise that most of us don't know much about how to enjoy a bottle of Bubbly, or even open one! Well fear not! I am here with some advice to de-mystify the suds and how to get the most enjoyment out of it as well!
Step 1: Open the bottle like a Pro!
Opening your sparkling wine isn't really that difficult once you get the hang of it. Just remember that this isn't a NASCAR event, and the goal isn't to see how far you can shoot the cork, or how much of the wine you can spray over your guests! The tip to professional Champagne service is twisting the cork out gently.
Start off by removing the foil from the cork and cage. Feel free to use the plastic tab to rip it off, or use the foil cutter on your wine tool. Either is fine.
Start by holding your thumb on top of the cork. Safety first people! Nothing will end your party quicker than blasting one of your guests in the eye with a cork, and sometimes it can go off unexpectedly. Especially if it has been jostled around prior to opening. Point the bottle away from anyone that you care about before opening.
With your thumb on the cork, twist the wire that secures the cage until it is free (it should probably take you 6 turns by hand).
You may remove the wire cage now, but I don't recommend it. You will have to take your thumb off of the cork to do that, and it might decide to blast off! Whenever I am opening a bottle of bubbly, I leave the cage on and just twist the whole cork, cage and all!
Top the cage and cork with a dishrag or towel and gently twist the cork to ease it out. Your thumb should still be on top of the cork now! Gently twist it until it pops free. This should produce a whisper of a sound, not bring in all of your guests from the other room thinking that they heard a gunshot!
That's all there is to it! Now find something to serve it in and have fun! Speaking of which...
Step 2: Don't serve your Champagne in a flute!
The flute came about in the 1500's to make it easier to avoid the yeasty sediment that wasin every bottle back then, but that isn't really a problem any more. Yes I know that it looks nice and it makes you feel like you are on Downton Abbey when you clink them together, but in terms of really enjoying the wine, it isn't really the ideal shape. It is too narrow to really allow for all of the complex flavors to emerge properly. The ideal glass would be wide at the base, but tapered at the top. Although if you don't have something like that, just serve it in a white wine glass. This will allow the aromas to better reach your nose and you will enjoy it a lot more!
Step 3: Don't over-chill your bubbly!
If you keep your sparkling wine in your fridge and then serve it ice cold, it won't taste like much of anything. Give it about 10-15 minutes on the counter or so that it can warm up a bit and I promise you will notice a difference in flavor! Unless, of course, you are serving a wine that tastes bad. Chill that bad boy down!
Step 4: Pay attention to the flavor.
Good Champagne is incredibly complex and beautiful, and many other sparkling wines are as well. Treat it like the amazing wine that it is and savor it! Swirl it in your glass for a bit and admire the many flavors that emanate. I feel like we get caught in a celebration mode with sparkling wine and almost forget to taste it. We just clink and then glug it down without paying attention to what we are drinking. Take a little moment to appreciate the amazing wine that is in your glass. Then celebrate away!
Step 5: Pair
Don't forget that Champagne is wine and wine goes with food. Don't be afraid to serve your favorite sparkler with a meal! In fact, it is quite versatile as a food pairing wine. It goes especially well with shellfish and salads, but also pairs well with poultry and pork, mushrooms and cream based sauces.
Follow these tips and have a great New Year's celebration! And remember, that sparkling wine isn't just for New Year's eve and your anniversary. Enjoy them all year!