Everything You Need to Know About Champagne

These tips may be from 1979 — but bubbly smarts know no decade.

By Samantha Toscano

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Breaking out the sparkling cocktail isn’t just about hoping the cork doesn’t hit someone or popping in a few strawberries because that’s what they do in the movies. And the proof is in our December 1979 issue.

Added fruit aside, here’s what you absolutely need to know before the bubbly starts to flow and the fun begins:

Why It Bubbles

Champagne begins as a still wine and is made sparkling by a second fermentation, creating natural effervescence. In the traditional French method, the second fermentation takes place in the individual bottle — more expensive champagnes in the United States are made this way as well. With less costly American champagnes — labeled “bulk process” or “Charmat process” — the second fermentation takes place before the wine is bottled.

 

The Many Varieties

Natural: Dry, no sweetness. Fine as an aperitif. Pair with seafood.

Brut: Dry, little or no sweetness. The most popular type, fine for general entertaining. Perfect with every course and as an aperitif.

Extra Dry: Faintly sweet. Good with desserts, fruits.

Dry, Sec, and Demi Sec: Fairly sweet. Good for afternoon, evening refreshment, with desserts.

 

Shopping Guide

A 750-ml. or 25.4-oz. bottle of champagne, the most popular size, yields six to eight glasses. If you need more than one bottle, the 1.5-liter magnum bottle is the better buy — it has the same neck, air space as a smaller bottle, more wine. For a toast, you can figure on one glassful per person. For an aperitif, one or two glasses per person. For dessert, one glass for each guest is usual. For an evening of entertaining, plan on a third to a half of a 750-ml. bottle for each guest.

 

 

Storing Guide

Store bottles in a cool, dark place where temperatures do not fluctuate widely. Lay the bottles on their side so the cork doesn’t dry out, allow air to enter, wine to leak or spoil.

 

Serving Guide

Use elegant stemmed glasses:  the traditional flute, or tulip- or egg-shaped glasses. They show the bubbles rising in a continuous stream and concentrate the wine’s aroma. Avoid saucer-type “champagne glasses.”

Cool bottles ahead: The best way is to let the bottle sit in a pail half-filled with ice and water for about 30 minutes. Or, chill (don’t freeze) bottles about three hours in the least cold part of the refrigerator.

Open bottles carefully: To avoid wasting wine. Don’t shake the bottle; hold it in one hand with the other, remove the wire muzzle. Now, slightly tilt bottle away from you and hold cork firmly while rotating the bottle itself. Pull bottle down gently and slowly to reduce internal pressure. Cork will come out with a soft “pop,” with no loss of froth. Wipe off the rim before serving.

Pour with finesse: Tilting each glass to keep foam or “mousse” from spilling, fill the glass a quarter full; let the “mousse” settle. Continue until glass is two-thirds full.

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Bridal Shower Ideas: The Guide To Throwing A Brilliant Bash

By

bridal shower

Plan a party the bride-to-be will never forget.

Where, when and how to plan the best bridal shower ever.

Your best friend is madly in love and getting married! And though it’s a pity to lose your favorite wing-woman to her Knight in Shining Armor, what’s better than months full of parties leading up to the big day? Or at the very least, months full of wine, excuses to dress up and hellooo, groomsmen?

So while she’s in charge of taking care of everything else (like seating charts, invitations and writing her vows), planning the most unforgettable bridal shower has fallen into your hands.  So while she’s in charge of taking care of everything else (like seating charts, invitations and writing her vows), planning the most unforgettable bridal shower has fallen into your hands.

But where the hell do you start? From ideas and trends to décor, invites and games, here’s how to hit it out of the park when it comes to shower planning.

Why have a shower? The shower is exactly what it sounds: Showering the bride with presents off her registry. After he pops the question (and you guys pop the champagne to celebrate), the bride- and groom-to-be register for all the things they’ll need in their new household, even if they do already live together). Sure, it’s a little 1950s, but that’s the fun of it. It’s a chance to shower the bride with well-wishes and gifts before her strut down the aisle. Plus, she and her groom are picking up the tab on the wedding venue, band, cocktail hour, dinner, the open bar and the fondue fountain, so the least you could do is pick up that Le Creuset she’s been pining for.

When should you have it? You should bank on having the shower at least three months before the wedding, but there are no hard-and-fast rules detailing the day or the time, so have fun with it. If your bride is having a winter wedding, plan the shower for the start of fall so that you can still soak up some of those sunny days and warmer nights. If she’s getting married in late summer, plan an early spring shower. The flowers will be in bloom (think of the photo ops!) and people are less likely to be traveling then.

Where should you have it? Here’s where it gets a little tricky: If your bride is super particular, you might want to clue her in on the planning process, but if she’s not, still keep her taste in mind. The most important thing to remember? It’s about her not you (sorry!), so make sure the venue matches your bride. If she’s having an informal outdoor wedding, planning a low-key picnic shower might work really well, but if your bride is planning a black-tie only affair, it’s a good idea to plan a shower locale that matches the tone of the wedding venue. And if you’re hoping to surprise the bride-to-be, it’s okay to ask for suggestions on where she’d like to be showered in cookware, but keep mum of the final choice.

Whos in charge of what? Typically, the mother of the bride (and the mother-in-law) have a fair say in how the shower is handled, but that doesn’t mean the ‘maids are free of responsibilities. It’ll be the maid of honor’s duty to act as the ringleader for the event. She’ll be in charge of making sure there’s party favors, games and enough food to feed the guests. Just don’t forget it’s a shared responsibility.

It’s probably best to make a general to-do list ahead of time and split up the tasks so everyone’s in charge of something and this way, nothing gets left behind or doubled up.

Think of a theme If you’ve been following along with your bride-to-be’s Pinterest, then you probably already have a good idea of what your shower theme should look like. If you haven’t, here’s a quick tip: It should mimic the style of the wedding in some way. For instance, if you’re going to be carrying Gerber daisies down the aisle, splurge for daisy centerpieces on the tables and flower seeds as a favor. Crisp white linens and delicate floral touches keep the theme cohesive. But you don’t have to use the floral arrangements as your guide. If the bride is planning a beach wedding, opt for beach-friendly snacks and treats, and if the wedding is a black tie affair, try working a black and white color scheme into the party mix. Whatever you plan make sure it stays true to the bride’s vision. She’s the one you’re aiming to please!

Decorating tips Again, décor depends on the theme, so figuring that out should be first and foremost on your to-do list. Décor should match the theme as well as your bride, so if she wouldn’t love it, it’s safe to say you should skip it.

Do you need a guest list? Okay, so you’re not planning a Saturday night at the 40/40 Club, but you still need to know who to expect. Start out by stealing a copy of the master wedding guest list, once it’s finalized. You’ll only want to invite the ladies you plan to have at the wedding. Yep, that means you’ll need to invite everyone from Great Grandma Bee and the groom’s third cousin Susie to your friend’s pesky coworker. A tip? Start a Google Doc to keep track of whose RSVP’d and who you’re still waiting to hear from. On the day of the shower, print it out and keep a few pens nearby. You’ll need to keep track of who gifted what, so the bride can write her thank-yous.

Do we have to be polite? The short answer is yes, because you’re spending the afternoon surrounded by faces you’ll likely see again (at the wedding), so you don’t want to leave a sour taste in anyone’s mouth. The long answer is that though we’re living in a modern age, weddings are still incredibly traditional, so people expect a certain type of behavior. A good way to differentiate? Be a lady at the bridal shower and a freak at the bachelorette. Okay, fine, not exactly what Ludacris sang, but still, it’s useful.

Games You don’t have to plan tons of games (especially if your bride isn’t the gamey type) but a few tongue-in-cheek quizzes to pass the time are usually appreciated (and fun!). The best times to play? Before the main meal is served and before dessert. It helps break up the party and won’t distract guests from the main event — the gifts!

 

 

How to make white pumpkin centerpieces

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An autumn wedding does not need to be associated only with orange, red, and brown. I found some lovely white pumpkins that can create the perfect vase for an all-white wedding. They are so easy to make that you’ll want to use them all year round.

Materials: white flowers of your choice, white pumpkins, knife, flower clippers

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Step 1: Like normal jack-o-lantern, cut a circle into the pumpkin. Don’t make it too small or too wide. Too small might look a bit funny with flowers in it, and too wide might make them fall out.

Step 2: I left all the seeds inside so it would be easier to stick the flowers in.

Step 3: Put some water into the pumpkin for the flowers.

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Step 4: Criss-cross the flowers so they hold their shape like above.

Step 5: Keep on criss-crossing until the pumpkin has a nice shape of flowers.

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Done! Aren’t they just the cutest?

Project and photography by Brittany Watson Jepsen of The House That Lars Built

Lobster Boil Party

by Tori

Who says you cannot have a lobster boil in a landlocked state? When event planner Morgan Wetherington (from Nashville, TN) reached out to share this Luxe Lobster Bash I was day dreaming of my own seafood soiree. My favorite elements are the lovely lobster water color paper items and the use of nautical rope. Take a look at the amazing photos:

 

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From Morgan:

Barbeque is the typical southern fare, but we opted for lobster for this upscale dinner party. For this New England inspired lobster boil, we used a color palate of cherry red, navy, and shades of cream. The La Tavola red rope linen was the perfect choice to include the theme. We incorporated nautical rope, starfish, and of course lobster. The client’s home provided an ideal outdoor space for the venue. We wanted to create a guest experience, everyone loved cracking lobster and flowing conversation.

 

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With each individual place setting, all guests needed to enjoy their lobster was an appetite.

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Seasonal cantaloupe, snow peas, and corn on the cob accompanied the lobster. No dinner party is completed without a bar, we even designed a bar area that included a special “Captain Jackson Cocktail”. Each guest left with a seafood seasoning favor to continue the celebration from home. This is a great event concept for any point in the summer whether it is 4th of July or Labor Day.

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Styling, Photography, Paper Products :: Commerce Street Events
Linen :: La Tavola Fine Linen
Tableware :: Corzines
Venue :: Private Nashville Resident