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Three Cheers for Champagne!

Champagne – raise a toast to good times Champagne – raise a toast to good times

Champagne has been witness to many more moments of happiness and celebrations than any other drink. It has evolved into many varieties of tastes over the years without diluting its personality. Champagne is the drink of choice for good times, and is surely the nectar that’s treasured by people across the globe, especially for special occasions.

Invented by a monk in the French region of Champagne in the 17th century, champagne is available in hundreds of varieties. However, the wine producers of the Champagne region are the only ones allowed to call it "champagne" by law. Champagne style wines produced in different parts of the world are called "sparkling wines," instead. A wine connoisseur may prefer the "real thing," but there are some varieties of the drink produced in the US, Australia, Italy, Spain and New Zealand that provide strong competition.

Dom Perignon is the prestigious Champagne produced by Moet & Chandon in France. There are some more well-known brands of the bubbly that hail from France, namely Perrier Jouet Grand Brut, Bollinger Special Cuvee, Taittinger Champagne Brut Reserve, and Veuve Clicquot Brut.  Henkell Trocken, Hillebrand Trius Brut, and Jansz Premium Cuvee Brut are some of the well known brands from countries other than France.  A bottle of champagne can cost from $30 to $300 on average, depending on the house that produces it. A Magnum of Dom Perignon, depending on the vintage, can go for as high as $2,652 (1959) or as low as $109 (2004). A 2007 goes for $2101.

Different types of champagne get their names from the variety of grapes used in making them. Blanc de blancs is the white champagne made from the white Chardonnay grapes, and blanc de noirs is the champagne made from the black grape varieties Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Champagne can also be classified as vintage or non-vintage, depending on the blend of wines, and years. Dom Perignon from 1998 is considered to be a classic one among the types of vintage champagne. A magnum goes for $797.

Champagne is the drink of celebrationChampagne is the drink of celebrationChampagne comes in different degrees of sweetness. Dry champagne goes well with fish. Go for a fruity or sweet one, if you’re taking it as an aperitif, or along with dessert. The Medot Champagne Brut from France is the real champagne for the ones who are looking for a good bubbly. The demi-sec is the sweeter one among the varieties. Go for a Laurent Perrier Demi-sec when you’re in the mood to try the demi-sec version. Doux contains more than 5% sugar, and that’s the sweetest variety of champagne.

The accompaniments chosen by some with champagne are fresh fries! The option is extended to crispy fried things like onion rings, shrimp or fritto misto. Ever wonder how the combination of potato chips and Champagne would work, like the duo of peanuts and beer? Well, give it a try! Smoked salmon, smoked ham or even hamburgers are choices of some people to go with the drink. Blanc de blancs are considered ideal for light courses. Choosing a dry champagne with dessert is not such a great choice!

Make sure you don’t end up losing the precious bubbles when you open the bottle. You are not supposed to pop the cork as the pressure in the bottle can be injurious to people standing next to you. After cutting the foil, undo the wire cage, grasp the cork in one hand, and turn the bottle with the other hand. The cork should come off easily; make sure that you don’t pull the cork! But if you're a traditionalist, especially on New Year's Eve, point the neck of the bottle into an unoccupied corner, and pop away! Hopefully not at your aunt's favorite mirror!

Champagne is to be served chilled, but make sure you don’t chill it in a freezer. It is served in tall flute glasses to perk up the flow of bubbles and aroma. Thinner crystal and taller glasses are considered ideal to enjoy the bubbles in the drink. Crystal is said to stimulate more bubbles with its rougher surface. Make sure you don’t tilt the glass; you aren’t serving beer! Here’s a tip: if you are left with some champagne in a bottle, you can use it in cocktails or in recipes as a substitute for white wine.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 22 December 2010 23:51

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