It might seem innocent, someone pops a bottle of Prosecco, you grab a flute and tip your glass to celebrate with friends, colleagues or family. Having no doubt downed a fair few glasses in your time (we certainly know we have!), you might think you know all there is to know about drinking sparkling varieties of wine.
Just in case you aren’t a Champagne pro, we’ve compiled a handy list of hints to up your game – with plenty of time before the festive season kicks off this year to get you into the groove!
Choose wisely: the glass does matter
You probably know a ‘Champagne glass’ (or ‘flute’) as a long-stemmed, skinny piece of glassware that is more or less the same length all the way up the bowl. This is a modern take on the traditional way to drink bubbly, as glasses with openings that are wider expose the wine to air, which releases both the bubbles and aroma, allowing them to quickly escape. In other words, if you use a flute, your wine will last far longer in the glass before becoming flat in both texture and taste.
If you’ve watched any period drama (or Great Gatsby-esque film!) you might notice that in the old school style, a ‘coupe’ champagne glass – which looks somewhat like a martini glass, except with a rounder bowl – was very popular. Although the bubbles did go flat much quicker in these types of glasses, the wider opening meant it was easier to appreciate the aroma of the wine and its bouquet, or nuance of flavours.
In truth, both styles of champagne glass have been popular for at least a few hundred years. If you want to fully enjoy the aroma, drink it out of a coupe or a white wine glass. This glass’ opening is just big enough to allow you to smell the champagne’s aroma easily. If you’re not so fussed on the sniff test and want the celebratory effect that only the bubbliest of vinos can give, a flute is your best bet. Or, try both and see which you prefer!
What’s that stem for?
No matter which type of glass you choose to sip your bubbles from, friends don’t let friends hold their wine glass by the bowl. The reason for this is quite simple: our body temperature (and radiant warmth from extremities like the hands) tends to wreak havoc with the relatively small amount of wine held in the typical champagne glass. The wine will heat up far faster if you don’t hold it by the stem, and in doing so you’ll change the taste of the wine – and not for the better, as almost all types of bubbly is best served well chilled.
As an aside, you get bonus cool points for holding it by the stem, as it’s a sure-fire way to look like an elegant bubbly connoisseur.
Let’s pretend something crazy happens and you have some sparkling left at the end of the night, and you want to store it for a later time. The best way to ensure it doesn’t turn to a flat disappointment overnight in the fridge is to invest in a good champagne stopper to preserve as many of those previous bubbles as you can. In fact, you should also use the stopper in between pours so the bubbles don’t escape the bottle while you’re busy toasting. If you’re drinking a bottle amongst only a few friends over the course of a few hours, this will ensure your bottle stays fizzy-fresh.
It’s tempting to go the whole hog and fill your glass up to the brim, we get it. But, if you temper your excitement and only fill it up to about one-third full, you’ll find that your bubbles will stay delicious, cold and fresh. Consider only ever pouring only what you can drink in a ten to fifteen minute period.
What goes with Champers?
Although caviar has known to be a rare ‘perfect pairing’, the truth is that sparkling wines such as Champagne, Cava, Prosecco and others actually go with a phenomenally wide variety of different foods. If seafood isn’t your thing, get a little creative and try it with truffle fries, a cheese platter, or even fried chicken.
The best thing, we reckon, is that bubbly is something you can use to toast just about anything. It doesn’t always have to be a fancy occasion, and with sparkling wine becoming so popular and affordable, we’ll take just about any excuse.
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