In the mood for a little holiday magic? Float a kumquat in Champagne and it slowly spins around and around! Unlike both red and white wines which should not be served too chilled, Champagne must be served well-chilled, between 45°-50°F is ideal - tepid Champagne is nothing to celebrate. To quickly chill down a bottle of Champagne, fill an ice bucket with equal amounts of ice cubes and water and let it chill for 30 minutes, otherwise refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Skip any notion of putting the bottle in the freezer or using a pre-chilled flute – both could be disastrous. When opening the bottle, avoid assigning this task to a novice. Wrap the bottle in an absorbent napkin for a good grip, and point it away from guests, mothers-in-law, pets, party crashers and yourself. Remove the foil, grip the neck of the bottle with your hand, pressing firmly on the cork with your thumb. Remove the wire cage with your other hand, then drape the napkin over the cork. Grasp the cork firmly while gently turning the bottle. The softer the “pop”, the better! Also enjoy other forms of sparkling wines from around the world including Cavas, Proseccos, Spumantis, and Moscatos which, like Champagne, have varying degrees of sweetness. To serve dry champagne with something too sweet actually can make the champagne taste bitter. The driest varieties pair well with food and the sweetest pair better with desserts.
Nine spectacular delicacies to serve with Champagne on New Year’s Eve or the next morning:
is for Chambord – raspberry infused with fine cognac and vanilla from Madagascar
is for Hazelnut – found in savory and sweet recipes from pralines to Brussel sprouts
is for Arugula - a tangy mustard green to toss in salads, soups, pastas, pizzas
is for Mousse – a spread, typically made of duck, chicken, cream and spices
is for Prosciutto – a dry-cured ham, sliced paper-thin served wrapped around fresh fruits
is for Artichoke – steamed, and dipped in butter or Hollandaise
is for Ganache – a dark, rich, sauce for cakes and tarts made of equal parts chocolate and cream
is for Neufchatel – soft cheese made with cow’s milk, similar to cream cheese, used in cheesecakes, panacottas, and dips
is for Eggs – soufflés, huevos rancheros, and the classic Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise