CHAMPAGNE IS THE PERFECT SIP FOR ALL SEASONS
When Cher’s character Loretta Castorini dropped a cube of sugar into her Champagne in the movie “Moonstruck,” purists gasped — but hey, at least she got her man. But we can’t condone the sugar cube-bubbly blend. At most, adding some crème de cassis or Chambord to make a Kir Royale is perfectly acceptable but first things first: Champagne comes from the geographical region of Champagne in France, produced under strict French law. Anything else is just sparkling wine.
Möet et Chandon, Tattinger and Veuve Cliquot are just several of the bubbyl’s most famous producers. Champagne must be served chilled, and somewhere between 45 to 50 degrees is ideal. A clear glass flute with a long stem — a shape designed specifically for bubbly because it provides less room for the beverage’s carbonation to escape by reducing the surface area — is the best drinking vessel.
When it comes to food pairings, it’s easier to say what not to pair with Champagne. Surprisingly, sweet desserts make Champagne less appealing, with sugary cakes impacting the palate to give Champagne a bitter, unpleasant taste. A dark chocolate ganache cake or any dessert with dark chocolate as a main ingredient, however, marries well with Champagne because it is not very sweet.
But who wants to wait until dessert to enjoy Champagne? Pop the cork and pour a glass to go with appetizers or the main course. The best foods to serve with Champagne are shellfish, especially oysters and shrimp, and fish — whether served raw, grilled, smoked, chilled, hot or in creamy sauces, there is a lot of flexibility.
Cheeses, pâtés and mousses are also classic Champagne pairings. Simply served with toasts points, an elegant cheese plate or charcuterie board sets the tone for celebrations of any size. And, of course, Champagne can also be used in sauces and gravies when cooking.
When purchasing your bottle, you must decide whether you want to spring for a vintage varietal. To tell the difference between vintage and non-vintage is as easy as looking at the bottle’s label: If you see a year printed on the label (i.e. 2014), this means the grapes came from one year’s harvest. Non-vintage Champagnes use grapes from several different years. Vintage Champagnes often are of a higher quality than non-vintages, but they also come with a higher price tag. Vintage Champagnes usually starts at around $50 a bottle, but can run into the thousands at high-end auctions. Non-vintage Champagne can be found in the $35 to $50 range, but many wine shops offer sales throughout the year, as well as case discounts that can add up to significant savings.
Buying ahead for a special occasion? Vintage Champagnes typically have a shelf-life of between six to 10 years if properly stored — on their sides in a dark, cool environment. Non-vintage Champagnes have a shorter shelf-life of between two to four years. But beware: Long-term storage in the refrigerator can be detrimental because it is too cold and exposes the bottle to too much light. And just like when the cat is out of the bag, the Champagne cork cannot be inserted back into the bottle. If you don’t finish the bottle, try a stainless steel stopper.
À votre santé!
RAISE A GLASS
To quickly chill a bottle of Champagne, fill an ice bucket with equal amounts of cold water and ice cubes. Add the bottle and allow it to chill for 30 minutes. If you won’t be serving the bottle right away, refrigerate it for at least four hours.
Ready to pop the cork? Peel off the foil, and then wrap the fingers of one hand firmly around the neck of the bottle. Point the bottle away from anyone or any fine artwork for safety — the pressure inside the bottle can expel corks as fast as 25 mph. Remove the wire cage with your other hand, then drape a dry cloth napkin over the cork. Firmly grasp the cork through the napkin, positioning your hand as you would to unscrew a bottle cap while gently turning the bottle in a circular motion with the hand holding the bottle. Cheers!
Grand Vintage 2006- Floral, Expansive, and Succulent. Every Grand Vintage is unique and original, the cellar master’s personal, free interpretation in service of the singular qualities of that year’s grapes.
Grand Vintage 2006 is the perfect embodiment of the Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage spirit, a spirit founded on three essential values:
- Freedom of interpretation
- Selection of the year’s most remarkable wines
- Respect for the individuality of each vintage for finely aged champagnes which stand out for their maturity, complexity and charisma.
Veuve Clicquot Brut- Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut has been the symbol of the House since 1772. A perfect balance between power and finesse, its complexity comes from the predominant presence of Pinot Noir and Reserve Wines. It showcases our superb vineyards and the consistent style of our House
Veuve Clicquot Rose- Madame Clicquot created the first blended Rosé in 1818 by adding some red wine to Yellow Label champagne. The result was Veuve Clicquot Rosé, a fruity and full-bodied expression of the Veuve Clicquot style. Made using 50 to 60 different crus, the cuvee is based on Brut Yellow Label’s traditional blend, 44 to 48 % Pinot Noir, 13 to 18 % Meunier, 25 to 29 % Chardonnay.
Tattinger Brut La Francaise is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier wines from at least 35 villages. The high proportion of Chardonnay (40%) is unique among fine nonvintage Champagnes. The presses are located in the vineyard for immediate pressing of the fruit after the manual harvest, and the resulting must is cold fermented under temperature-controlled conditions. After resting until the end of winter, the wine is blended, and then the final cuvée undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle in Taittinger’s cool cellars. The aging of Brut La Française on the lees for almost 4 years more than doubles the legal minimum of 15 months. This extra time in the cellars allows the wine to reach the peak of aromatic maturity, and the result is a delicately balanced Champagne, known for its consistently excellent quality.
Moet Ice Imperial- Intense, Fruity, and Fresh. Moët Ice Impérial, the first and only champagne especially created to be enjoyed over ice. A new champagne experience combining fun, fresh and free sensations while remaining true to the Moët & Chandon style, a style distinguished by its bright fruitiness, its seductive palate and its elegant maturity.
Thank you to Roller Wines & Spirits for providing Champagne photos and descriptions. Find these brands and many others for your next celebration at 6 Lagoon Road on Hilton Head Island. Tel. 843-785-3614.