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.

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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