New Year Champagne

Champagne is a favored drink at New Year’s Eve parties around the world. Do you know where it came from or how to choose the right one for your holiday fete?

Champagne seems to be present at just about every type of celebration known to man – from weddings to ship launchings, cocktail parties and New Year’s Eve. There are currently over 12,000 brands of champagne and sparkling wine and if you have no idea how to choose the right one for your get together, you can always ask the experts which one they would choose. Champagne has been around since the 17th century and it originated in Champagne, a region of France. The growing season here is shorter and there is quite a bit of excess carbon dioxide in the grapes of the region, making the final wine that was initially prepared by the monks in the 17th century fizzy.

Pierre Perignon, one of the monks that oversaw the grapes and the wine making process during the late 1600s was charged with finding a lighter wine that could be served in the French Royal Court. He perfected the technique of making the wine stand up to the bubbles form the excess carbon dioxide and the brand name ‘Dom Perignon’ was born, a name synonymous with the best champagne currently found on the market around the world. The rest is history although it is interesting to note that only wine made in the Champagne region of France can be called champagne. The rest must be called ‘sparkling wine’.

Champagne – no matter where it’s from – should be served only slightly chilled somewhere between 43 and 48 degrees Fahrenheit as anything colder will kill the taste. The bottle should be placed in an ice buckets still sealed and the bucket should be ½ water and ½ ice. It should sit in this mixture no more than 20 to 30 minutes before being opened. Champagne can be refrigerated but never put in the freezer.

As much fun as it is to pop the cork on a bottle of champagne, experts actually advise against it because the loss of pressure causes some of the bubbles in the champagne to pop causing it to lose its fizz and taste. It should be served in tall flute glasses not for looks – although looks definitely set the mood when drinking it – but because the shape of the glass actually improves the flow of the bubbles and the champagne’s overall bouquet – or aroma.

If you do not wish to spend thousands of dollars on a bottle of champagne, experts recommend the following choices that are $100 or less per bottle: Taittinger Champagne Brut Reserve; Perrier Jouet Grand Brut; Veuve Clicquot Brut; Bollinger Special Cuvee; and Louis Roederer Brut Rose 1998.

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