Sunday, December 28, 2008

Break out the Champagne!

Happy New Year everybody!

If part of your new years celebration includes raising a glass of champagne with your friends here are a few brief things you might find interesting about this celebratory wine.

  • Champagne is produced in the region in France that bears its name. Generally champagne grapes are either chardonnay grapes, which are white, or pinot noir or pinot meunier grapes, which are red (the process using the red grapes produces white champagne wine).
  • The bubbles and "pop" in champagne is traditionally produced by a process of double fermentation. After the initial fermentation, at which time the wine looks and acts like regular white wine, a little sugar and yeast are added to the bottles for a second fermentation. The bottles rest for at least a year before they are given another little dose of sugar and wine, corked and then rested again for months or even years. This process creates the long lasting tiny bubbles that look so cool in your glass.
  • If it's not made the traditional way or is produced outside of Champagne, France it's not true champagne; it's called sparkling wine.
  • To properly open a bottle of champagne, and avoid wasting wine and possibly hurting someone or something with a flying cork, hold the bottle at a 45 degree angle, hold the cork tightly, and rotate the bottle rather than the cork as you separate the two.
  • Champagne should be served chilled, at around 45 degrees, and in a champagne flute, the tall stemmed glass that highlights those beautiful tiny bubbles so well.
  • Bottle sizes vary greatly with champagne. Many bottles larger than a magnum are named after biblical figures, with the Nebuchadnezzar sized bottle being the equivalent of around 20 regular bottles.
  • Dom PĂ©rignon, the famous Benedictine monk, didn't invent champagne, although he was born in Champagne, France and did have much to do with further development in the method of producing champagne. An English physician by the name Merret is credited with being the fellow to first document the process of making champagne or sparkling wine.

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