This is not another list of hotels with all night packages, bars with all you can drink specials, or busy restaurants who will serve you an abbreviated menu and a glass of bubbly with the dessert course. These options are popular and somewhat satisfying for those of us who want to celebrate with a big night on the town, filled with cocktails and a champagne toast at midnight. But Rochester Drinks believes champagne should not be reserved for toasting once or twice a year. Bottles of bubbly should be enjoyed whenever possible to make every day celebrations special. Champagne is a status symbol and no home is complete without at least one bottle chilled and ready to pop at all times.
In this installment of Rochester Drinks we will help RWO readers demystify real champagne, the highest evolution of sparkling wine, that can only come from the Champagne region of France. From $25 half bottles of Veuve Clicquot, to the 1998 vintage of Dom Perignon and the 164th edition of Krug Grand Cuvée, to a $2000 fifteen liter bottle of Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial we will be covering some luxurious stuff here.
First let’s start with chilling bottles. Champagne tastes best when served at 47-50 degrees, about 10 degrees warmer than your refrigerator. Bottles can be chilled in a bucket of ice water for 30 minutes or stored on their sides in the refrigerator for four hours before serving. Next is the glassware. Champagne is ideally enjoyed from a stemmed flute or tulip glass. The long narrow shape of these glasses allows the bubbles to release and the flavors and aromas to fully develop. Unfortunately a coupe glass allows the effervescence and aromas of champagne to escape too quickly and randomly. Leave these glasses for boozy mixed drinks at your local cocktail bar.
Once you have the right glasses and you’ve made sure they are clear of any soap residue or lipstick, we can move on to the proper way to open a bottle of champagne. Make sure to never point an unopened bottle of champagne at yourself or any of your guests. Place a towel or napkin over the top of the bottle and hold it loosely. Tilt the bottle at an angle away from your body. Remove the foil. Loosen the wire cage around the cork and remove while securing the cork in place. Hold the cork firmly with one hand while gently twisting the bottle (not the cork) with the other. The cork should slide out gently with a slight audible hiss. The pop a cork makes when released quickly is very satisfying and you may not be able to resist the urge, but make sure not to let the cork fly off. It could really do some damage. If it is your first time opening a bottle of champagne and you are a little nervous we recommend watching a YouTube video, but stay away from the sabering videos. Leave sabering to the professionals.
Now that you know some basics, you can start to explore which champagne will be your favorite. With over 100 champagne houses to choose from, each with their own style, and multiple wines available from most houses the selection process can be a little daunting. The most popular labels in the U.S. come from Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Ruinart, Krug, and Dom Perignon. Start with a consistently fantastic non-vintage champagne that is universally loved, Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label. Next, explore rose champagne and delve into vintage champagne from your favorite producer. To mix things up explore different styles like the new Moet Ice which is a sweeter style intended to be served in a large wine glass over three ice cubes and even a couple berries or a sprig of mint to heighten its freshness and aromatic intensity. Eventually you may work your way up to a prestige cuvée like Dom Perignon or Vintage Krug which are only produced in years when the grapes are best.
Once corks start popping the celebratory atmosphere is contagious. Here is some simple math you can use to figure out how many bottles you may need for any given occasion. A standard 750ml bottle of bubbles will yield six (4 ounce) servings. A good rule of thumb is one or two glasses per hour for each guest. So if you are having a 3 hour dinner party for a total of 6 people and you know all guests like champagne you would need at least 6 bottles (6 people x 2 glasses x 3 hours = 36 servings or 6 bottles). While most liquor stores offer a case discount when you buy 12 standard (750ml) bottles or six magnum (1.5 Liter) bottles, we recommend an option that is a little more impressive and lends itself to better photo ops. Large format bottles may not be easy to come by, but if you plan ahead you can order them from your local liquor store and chill them in time to make a splash for your New Year’s Eve celebration. Magnum bottles are just more fun and when it comes to champagne size matters. A Jereboam is 3 liters, or the equivalent of 4 regular bottles. The rarely seen Rehoboam is 4.5 liters, or 6 regular bottles. A Methuselah is 6 liters, or 8 regular bottles. A Salmanazar is 9 liters, or the equivalent of 12 regular bottles. A crowd favorite the Balthazar contains 12 liters, or the equivalent of 16 regular bottles. And a Nabuchadnezzar holds 15 liters, or 20 standard bottles.
This year make a resolution to keep the party rolling from New Year’s Day right through St. Patrick’s Day. Rochester winters are long, grey, and cold, but champagne will help you persevere. Keep a couple bottles of bubbly at the ready for in impromptu get together. Next time you have guests over serve them fried chicken and Moet Rose Imperial (this pairing is amazing). Get the invitations out for that fancy dinner party you have been thinking about hosting but just never got around to planning. Better yet, throw a BYOB champagne party and pop corks all night long. Don’t forget to takes lots of pictures and tag #RWO and #rochesterdrinks.
Looking for more info about champagne? Now you can use your Amazon Alexa skills to access information simply and easily by enabling the skill through Amazon and saying, “Alexa open Bottles and Bubbles.” Amazon says, “Life’s too short to save Champagne for special occasions.
From National Pizza Day to more personal moments, we can always give you a reason to celebrate – all you have to do is ask. If you’re entertaining guests, our Champagne experts’ savvy hosting tips will take your parties to the next level. Dreaming of sipping bubbly somewhere exotic? Specially selected ambient soundscapes will transport you around the globe. And with loads of inspired food pairing suggestions to explore through the voice skill, a world of discovery is just a few words away! Make every moment a Champagne moment with Bottles & Bubbles.”