Everything You Need to Know About Champagne

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

By Samantha Toscano

-champagne

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.

Interactive Buffet & Station Ideas | Wedding, Mitzvah, Party

When it comes to throwing a wedding, bat/bar mitzvah or party, presentation is everything. Unless you’re serving caviar, champagne and Lindt chocolate mousse; appetizers, cocktails and desserts are often easily forgotten. But you don’t need to serve the crème de la crème to make these details memorable.

Up the WOW factor of everyday favorites with creative, fun & beautifully styled wedding & party buffets and stations!

Creative Ideas for Wedding & Party Buffet Stations

FOOD & DESSERT BUFFETS

Build Your Own Bruschetta Station

There are endless possibilities when it comes to adding toppings to crostinis. Tapanades, spreads, cheeses, tomatoes… Let your guests create their own culinary masterpiece.

Build Your Own Bruschetta Bar | Wedding Station

Fruit & Vegetable Buffet Table

Crudités have long received a bad wrap as an unimaginative canapé. But the traditional French appetizer is not only healthy, but easy to prepare and light on the budget. Breathe new life into freshly cut vegetables by placing them in clear vases. Watermelon mint salads and other healthy fruit options add beautiful color to the display. Complete the look with a few tall martini glasses filled with dips.

Crudites Fruit Vegetable Buffet Table

Adult & Kids Snow Cone Station

Simple and fun, kid-friendly and “adult spiked” snow cones are a great way to keep guests cool during summer, outdoor weddings & events. Put out shaved ice, syrups, and your favorite cocktail mixes for a fun refreshing treat. Check out Frozen Cocktail Push-Pops & Spiked Snow Cones

Snow Cone Buffet Station

Ice Cream Buffet

Confectioneries may have made buffets trendy, but they’re not always to everyone’s taste. Ice-cream, however, is guaranteed to appeal to the kid in everyone. Klein’s Real Kosher Ice-cream comes in a variety of delicious dairy and dairy-free flavors. Let guests scoop their own flavor and top with nuts, sprinkles and sauces. Put out soda and you have yourself a Root Beer Float Station!

Ice Cream Buffet Station | Wedding, Mitzvah, Party

Popcorn Station

Dessert may have filled bellies after dinner, but many hours rocking the dance floor can leave a crowd peckish. Popcorn is not only a pocket-friendly, easy to make snack, but it’s also a great remedy for guests who’ve had one glass too many. Children will also enjoy this post-party snack on the ride home. Let guests spice their own pre-packed boxes or fill empty bags with pre-flavoured kernels.

Popcorn Bar & Party Station

DIY Cupcake Topping Table

Everyone has their favorite cupcake topping. So give them what they want with a do-it-yourself cupcake bar.

Cupcake Topping Bar Station

COCKTAIL BARS

Mimosa Buffet / Champagne Infusion Bar

Unlike other, more complex cocktails, there’s no wrong way to make a mimosa. Let guests create their own mimosas with a champagne infusion bar! Put out champagne, fruit juices (like orange and mango), liquors and flavored schnapps. Cut up some fruit and let the fun begin! A table with just the juices and fruit are a great a kid-friendly option.

Mimosa Champagne Infusion Bar

Bloody Mary Bar

For morning and afternoon events (or evening…why not!) a Bloody Mary bar will put a big smile on your guests’ faces. Some like their Bloodys hot and spicy with 6 olives – let them have it! Put out regular & flavored vodka, Bloody Mary mix, olives, lemons, limes, raw and pickled vegetables, spices, and a variety of hot sauces for a fun & colorful drink station.Bloody Mary Bar

Martini Bar

Shaken or stirred? Let your guests decide with a DIY martini station. Prepare the spirits by pouring vodka, vermouth and water into clear labelled decanters. Fill three square vases with sliced cucumber, lemon peels and stuffed olives. If providing chilled glasses is a problem for your caterer, place a bucket of ice alongside the glasses and instruct guests to cool their glasses before filling.

Deconstruct any of your favorite cocktails for a unique standalone bar!

Make Your Own Martini Bar | Wedding Station

Whatever buffet fits your function, remember the right styling can transform the ordinary into the sublime!

 Blog credit; MazelMoments.com

Photo Sources:I Love SW Mag, Amy Atlas, Martha Stewart, Eat Drink Chic, Bridal Guide, Boutwell Studio, Centsational Girl, The Symmetric Swan, Sunday Suppers