The Mountain Times

°F Wed, April 16, 2014

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A toast to celebrate the New Year

As another New Year's Eve marks an end of the old and the beginning of a new, here's a toast to celebrate the occasion:

May Champagne brighten the mind and strengthen the resolution!

A toast to our ancestors that made this life possible; may their efforts not be wasted and may we do as well judged by the generations to follow.

Champagne has launched thousands of ships, toasted billions of weddings and special occasions, attended countless parties, and shared untold special moments between two people. Let it ring in a great new year for everyone! No other wine is so associated with joy and festivity. Champagne is said to make the young wiser and the old young again.

Sparkling wines are made the world over, but only the sparkling wines from Champagne in the north of France are correctly called Champagne.

Whatever you celebrate with, here are some tips on serving bubbles:

Sparkling wine should be served in tall flutes or tulip shaped glasses, long-stemmed, to keep it from warming in your hand. These are designed to enhance the flow of bubbles to the top and to concentrate the aromas of the wine.

Never chill or ice the glass.

Champagne should be served at about 43-48°F. At this range the smell and taste are most pronounced. Achieve this temperature by placing the unopened bottle in an ice bucket filled half with ice and half with water, with a good amount of salt added to the water. Let the bottle cool about 7-10 minutes. Or refrigerate it for 2-3 hours. Actual refrigerator temperature is too cold for serving. Champagne should never be placed in the freezer.

Remove enough of the foil to be able to loosen the twisted-wire hood and remove all with the cork at the same time, best with a napkin or cloth wrapped around it. It is wise to keep your thumb over the cork to prevent it from popping out on its own. And keep the other hand below the bottle to counter downward pressure.

Never shake the bottle. Try to keep it as quiet as possible. If the cork is loose, remove it carefully with the wire hood. To do this, hold the bottle away from you and anyone else at a 45-degree angle. Hold the cork and gently turn the bottle in one direction. Turn the bottle, not the cork.

It is a good idea to keep the bottle near the first glass to be filled, in case the removal of the cork starts a gush from of the bottle.

The cork should not pop. As the saying goes: "The ear's gain is the palate's loss." You waste bubbles by popping the cork.

When properly done, it should come off with a quiet sigh. Before pouring, the neck should be wiped with a clean cloth. Then begin by pouring slowly to allow the froth to settle as you pour. If need be, stop. Let it settle and pour more.

Champagne has reached its maturity and is ready for immediate consumption as soon as it leaves the Champagne house. It is generally a blend of several different vintages, which is why there is usually no year listed on the bottle. However, it can be stored like other fine wines in cellar-like conditions for many years. Important is constant cool temperature and no light. The bottles should be stored horizontally to keep the cork moist and thus retain its elasticity. This will keep the gas in and the air out.

Once opened, a bottle of champagne does not need to be consumed all at once. If properly closed (champagne stoppers are inexpensive), place it into the fridge and it should be good for several days.

Wishing everyone a happy New Year, cheers!

Tagged: Wine Experiments, Champagne