The Art Of Champagne Tasting

the-art-of-champagne-tastingTasting champagne or a similar sparkling wine is an experience involving all of the senses. Champagne is actually the name of a sparkling wine from that delimited region of France using certain grape combinations.

Champagne from this region of France is blended from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay grapes. The red Pinot Noir skins are not left in the mix long enough to color the wine. The different amounts of each grape variety blended into the wine is the decision of the winemaker.

The bubbly wine is developed over a minimum of 15 months using a special process to age it before it is finally put in bottles, corked and sent to the market for sale. If you are fortunate to taste this carefully designed wine, there are several things to note:

Sight

Your eyesight is the first sense that is used in examining the champagne. Look for a gold to light straw yellow color. The liquid should be clear with bubbles cascading as it is poured into a glass.

Pouring champagne is an art form for the person who pours. The uncorked bottle should be wrapped at the neck with a serviette (napkin) and the liquid poured onto the side of a gently angled glass. Tubular glasses are recommended. Watching this event that takes only seconds is part of the tasting process.

Sound

Hearing the cork pop followed by a gentle hissing indicates that there are tiny bubbles waiting to be released along with the carbon dioxide gas. Those bubbles should make a slight fizzing sound as the liquid is poured into the glass.

Odor

Inhale the odor of the wine before you drink it. This is recommended for most wines, even if they are not the sparkling variety. The nose or smell is delicate with a slight woodsy, spicy or floral odor.

Smelling wine and other beverages is part of the tasting process. Champagne’s special delicate odors change while the wine is exposed to air in the glass. This is according to champagne experts who judge wines. The bubbly should be allowed to stay in the glass for a minute or two before it is consumed.

Touch and taste

Holding the glass by the stem is another part of the experience. You can also touch the bottle to feel how cold it is. Champagne and sparkling wine should be served chilled at a temperature of 46.5-50 degrees F or 8-10 degrees C.

Taste is the final part of the experience. This is not a product to be gulped down like a soda drink. It is to be sipped to fully appreciate the feel of the bubbles and the delicate taste of the wine.

Professional wine tasters look for a sharpness, intensity and fruity richness in the flavor. Bubbles should “explode” in the mouth with an acidic sharpness, according to the experts. Everyone else can simply enjoy the pleasant flavor of the blend.

Other sparkling wines

Champagne is not actually a generic name although it is sometimes used to indicate high quality in a product.

California winemakers in the Napa and Sonoma valleys follow the same procedures used in France to produce outstanding sparkling wines. They may use different grape combinations and they do not advertise their sparkling wines as champagne. Other wine producing states and countries follow the same rules under international treaties and agreements. Prosecco is a sparkling wine from Italy and Cava comes from Spain. Both sparkling wines are tasted in the same way as French champagne.

Regardless of where you taste sparkling wines, enjoy and toast the winemaker who created the vintage.

The Most Expensive Champagnes in the World

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Champagne has become something that is enjoyed by pretty much everyone at least sometimes, but there are still types out there that evoke the incredible expense that it used to signify. We may not all be able to taste these vintages ourselves, but we can live vicariously through those who are lucky enough to have a glass or bottle of these following champagnes:

Dom Pérignon ($1,950) is a well known name throughout the world, and the remaining bottles of this vintage sell for an ever-increased sum as their numbers decrease. Moët et Chandon has in fact made a name for itself as a premier champagne house largely on the strength of this vintage.

Krug Clos d’Ambonnay ($3,500) manufactured with red wine grapes, Krug’s foremost product is a sublime and masterful example of champagne which demonstrates ably why Krug is such a respected name in the champagne world.

Perrier Jouët Champagne ($6,485) is a sparkling wine made with the very best grapes the Perrier Jouët house can grow, and it is clear when tasting this why such a degree of discernment is warranted. These bottles are sold in groups of twelve, so you won’t run out too quickly.

The Champagne Cristal Brut 1990 ($17,625) was only ever produced in limited quantities, and when you combine rarity with quality you get a price tag like this one. This is an elegant and memorable vintage well worth the wait and the cost.

Krug 1928 ($21,000) is Krug’s second entry on this list, and a bottle sold for $21,000 at auction in 2008. The grapes used were grown in 1926, and the first bottle was manufactured in 1938, making this a very old sparkling wine that has justified its cost with a tremendous and widely-lauded pedigree.

Dom Pérignon White Gold Jeroboam ($40,000) marks the other champagne house with two entries on this list. At over twenty times the cost of ‘ordinary’ Dom Pérignon, White Gold Jeroboam is a masterwork of delicate sparkling wine and wholly deserves its royal appellation.

Pernod Ricard Perrier Jouët ($50,000) comes in a set of twelve bottles, and a variety of liquors have been used, allowing you to choose one that most suits your taste. These liquors are both exotic and of the highest quality, combining with some of the finest grapes France has ever grown for a truly spectacular champagne.

Fifty thousand US dollars is a huge sum, even for twelve bottles of champagne. So would you believe that the most expensive item on this list does not come in a set of twelve, but that the price represents one single bottle? Here is the most expensive champagne in the world and, as far as we can tell, in all of history.

Shipwrecked 1907 Heidsieck ($275,000) is by far the most expensive champagne in the world. In 1916 a considerable shipment of this champagne was sent via sea from France to Russia, intended for the Imperial Court. The ship carrying this shipment was sunk by a German U-boat, however, and it lay at the bottom of the icy Baltic for over eighty years, until being discovered in 1998. Astonishingly, many of the bottles survived intact, and unsurprisingly this extraordinarily rare vintage commands a tremendous price tag, but all accounts suggest the quality of the wine justifies it.

The champagne world is always evolving however, and who knows what will be released, or even discovered, in the future? We’re always keeping an eye out for new rare and expensive champagnes.

Grower Champagne – Farmers’ Market Or Supermarket?

It’s difficult to beat the big champagne houses for glamour and sheer elegance, but there’s a lot more to champagne than just those well-known names.

The small, independent champagne makers offer a quite different experience and it is arguably amongst these many thousand small companies that the real heart of champagne can be found.

The champagnes from these small producers are often called ‘Grower Champagnes’ and they can be spectacularly good. Here’s why…

Did you know that not a single one of the ‘big name’ brands has enough vineyards to supply all the grapes they need to produce the millions of bottles they sell every year?

Many of them own enough vineyards to provide only between 10 – 25% of their grape requirements, and those that have vineyards that can provide as much as 70% of the grapes they need are very rare indeed.

In fact, some famous brands have no vineyards of their own at all!

Every single grape they need to make their champagne is bought from someone else

So where do they get the rest of those grapes?

Yes, you’ve guessed it. They buy them from the thousands of smaller, independent grape growers and champagne makers who between them own most of the vineyards in Champagne.

The big brands are very demanding as regards the quality of the grapes they buy, so the grapes are usually very good, even if they have been grown by someone you’ve never heard of.

But with all those top quality grapes in their vineyards there’s an opportunity for the smaller champagne makers to hold on to some of their best grapes and make their own ‘grower champagne’ and this is exactly what more and more of them are doing.

It’s not just the quality of ‘grower champagnes’ that’s driving the growing interest (sorry for the pun).

In just the same reason why people sometimes want to go to a farmer’s market instead of the supermarket all the time. They want to know more about exactly who produced their food and drink and to get to know them a little. The smaller scale is something people can get their head around and relate to.

With ‘grower champagnes’ there’s a chance to do just that.

The trouble is that finding these champagnes is not always easy because the smaller makers are not always great at marketing.

Take Domaines des Champagne Leclaire, for example.

This family-owned company was founded way back in 1878 and the current owners Raynald and Virginie Leclaire represent the 6th generation of the family to follow in the footsteps of the founder Ernest Alfred Leclaire. The picture, taken in their cellars, shows Raynald in the centre, with his father to the right and his children too who, in a few years, will probably be the 7th generation of family champagne makers.

The family home is in the main street of the village of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, but you won’t find any signs outside – in fact it’s a bit of a challenge finding the door bell!

However, once you’re inside, and have manoeuvred past the four children and the golf bag and trolley in the middle of the hall, the hospitality and the champagne are great.

Virginie runs the commercial side of things and has secured business with several fine restaurants in France, whilst Raynald handles the champagne making. In fact, champagne making is only part of what Raynald does. His other job is as a ‘courtier ‘ or grape broker – he sources, buys and sells grapes acting on behalf of whoever is in the market. His many years experience as a broker, mean he is highly regarded and he certainly knows a thing or two about grapes and about good champagne.

Champagnes Leclaire itself has only 6 hectares of vines and makes a range of champagnes using only grapes from their own vineyards. Because they are not as commercially driven as some larger companies they can afford themselves the luxury of leaving their champagnes to age a long time.

Take their Cuvée Sainte Apolline, their youngest champagne ‘only’ aged for 6 years – Wow.

Cuvée Sainte Appolline is named after one of the Leclaire’s daughters, and it’s what is sometimes called a non-declared vintage – all the grapes in the champagne were harvested in a single year so technically it is a vintage champagne, but it is never declared as such to the authorities – there’s so much red tape involved it’s not worth the effort.

It’s a Grand Cru, Blanc de Blancs (100 % Chardonnay) and has all the complex flavours, pronounced biscuity smells and warm golden colour that only extra long ageing can produce.

There are several other champagnes in the Leclaire range including some old vintages going back quite a while

Cuvée de la Princerie, a vintage 1996, Cuvée Carte d’Or from 1993,  Cuvée Spéciale from1991 and last, but not least Cuvée Ernest Alfred Leclaire from 1976, although there are precious few bottles of this left.

Old champagnes are an acquired taste and they don’t suit everyone, but if you do enjoy this style then Champagnes Leclaire are well worth a try.

About the Author

Jiles Halling spent 10 years living and working in Champagne and loves to share his unique knowledge of champagne with anyone who enjoys this wonderful drink. This article originally appeared here.

The Proper Pour

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Champagne is a drink that works in multiple scenarios. Whether celebrating with a group of friends or having an intimate evening with a special someone, champagne is a fine choice. Pouring champagne is something of an art, but it is one that can be easily mastered with the right information. Here is a quick guide to how to properly pour a glass of champagne.

Chill the Bottle.  Pouring champagne begins long before you are ready to open the bottle. To start off on the right foot, make sure that you chill your champagne. Place the bottle in ice in a wine bucket for roughly an hour or two. If you don’t have a wine bucket, you can achieve the same effect by allowing the bottle to chill in the fridge for a few hours.

Wrap the Bottle.  There is more to wrapping the bottle of champagne in a napkin than just style. The practical reasoning behind this is that it will absorb condensation, allowing for an easier grip on the bottle, and soak up any loose drops of bubbly that slip past the glass. A tea towel is your best bet, as it will absorb the most loose liquid, but you can still substitute a linen napkin in a pinch.

Pop It Open.  Perhaps the most exciting part of the process is opening the bottle. There is a sense of electric anticipation as you unwrap the foil and prepare to push the cork from its tight hold in the mouth of the bottle. During this, be sure to hold your hand over the cork. Some bottles can be tricky, and the cork can pop all on its own. To avoid injury or accident, keep one hand over the cork, pointed away from anyone’s face or any nearby glass.

The Pour.  The real artistry of serving champagne exists in the moment of the pour. Do not pour champagne with one hand and hold a glass in another, as it can easily slip without proper support from both hands. Instead, pour into glasses on a stable surface, or in the hands of those you are serving. When you pour, you want to hold the bottle in two spots: one hand should go on the bottom of the bottle, where the indented area known as the punt resides, and the other should hold the bottle from the side as you tilt.

There are many opinions out there on how to properly pour a glass of champagne. The more widespread opinion is that you should keep the glass flat and pour the bottle from an angle, aiming directly for the base of the glass. This is the way that the French have been pouring champagne for years. Since it is the country where the drink originates, no one thought twice about questioning the method. Still, questioning the status quo can be beneficial, as some French researchers discovered.

While the traditional method might be the popularized approach, the researchers discovered that there is a much more scientific way to go about pouring a glass of champagne. When pouring, champagne is handled in the same manner as pouring a glass of beer, with the glass itself on an angle as it is being filled, more CO2 is preserved. Carbonation is quite important in maximizing the pleasure of champagne, so you want to have high levels of CO2 in each glass. The “beer pour” tactic might not be as widespread as the traditional methods, but it is a way that will allow you a much more satisfying amount of champagne that you can raise a glass to.

Food and Champagne

what-type-of-food-goes-best-with-champagneChampagne is a type of sparkling wine whose red pinot noir grapes and green chardonnay grapes come from the Champagne region of France.

Best Food and Champagne Pairings 

Because the taste of champagne can vary so much based on the grapes used, secondary fermentation process and the champagne’s age or exposure to light over time, champagne can quite successfully be paired with an array of foods.

MV Moet & Chandon Imperial and Oyster 

For instance, MV Moet & Chandon Imperial is more of a sweet champagne that has elements of apple and pear. This can, therefore, make a good pairing with an evening dinner of oyster or other kind of salty seafood.

NV Pol Roger Brut Reserve and Grilled Chicken 

To illustrate the point that the fruitiness or nuttiness of a particular type of champagne largely dictates the food pairing, consider NV Pol Roger Brut Reserve. This champagne has more of a smooth, creamy taste and goes best with grilled chicken with a zesty sauce.

As with all champagnes, MV Moet & Chandon Imperial included, you will always want to store your champagne in a relatively cool area that has some protection from bright light.

This is why the idea of a wine cellar really makes sense – it’s a cool and dark and perfect for storing champagne or sparkling wine. Keeping your sparkling wine or champagne in this kind of environment ensures that the carbonation and fizzy from secondary fermentation stays part of the champagne.

NV Bollinger Special Cuvee and Deviled Eggs 

NV Bollinger Special Cuvee is another fairly affordable champagne whose taste and smoothness dictates a bold food pairing. That is, NV Bollinger Special Cuvee is a rich champagne with a smooth finish and therefore goes best with a punchy food pairing. Many recommend coupling NV Bollinger Special Cuvee with deviled eggs and a spicy sauce of your choosing.

Champagne’s Aging Process 

The champagne you eventually sip has spent many years aging in a wine cellar.  The process of actually aging the champagne is largely over by the time you pick it up at the store. Once you make the purchase and get ready to enjoy your champagne, the name of the game is really maintaining the natural fizziness and taste.

To best achieve this, store your champagne in a cool, dry place that has some protection from light. A wine cellar that stays at around 45 to 55 degrees is ideal. Under these conditions you could expect a brut to last as much as five years and a cuvee to last perhaps ten years. If you don’t have the benefit of a wine cellar, you can pull off similar results by storing your wine in a cool place that’s relatively cool and not prone to large temperature fluctuations (e.g., a cabinet in a lower floor).

In lieu of storing champagne, you might just want to enjoy it near the time of purchase. Especially if the champagne is vintage, it’s already been aged and ready to be paired with your favorite dishes.

More Champagne Food Pairing Ideas 

Speaking of high-end champagnes, a lot of people want to know what goes best with Don Perignon. Don Perignon is a smooth, vintage champagne that comes from Moet & Chandon. Due to the smooth finish and hints of fruity flavors like apricot, Don Perignon is best paired with seafood such as smoked trout and some kind of nutty flavor like toast.

The vintage and taste of the champagne largely dictates the food pairing. That said, store your champagne intelligently to get the most out of it. Or just enjoy it right away!

How to Select Good Champagne

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Choosing the perfect bottle of champagne shouldn’t be difficult if you understand the basics. Before you make your selection there are several important things to consider when deciding between the wide variety of champagnes available. Make sure to:

1. Understand the origins.  Champagne, with a capital c, refers to varieties made exclusively in the Champagne of France. Other champagnes, known also as sparkling wines, are made in various areas across the globe including California, Australia, and Italy. The varieties produced in France are held to a highly specific production standard called appellation. This process is an ancestral method and requires strict adherence to each individual step.

2. Decide on a price range.  There is a wide range of prices available for different varieties. Champagne from France ranges anywhere from $40 to $100 and is determined by whether the bottle is of a mass produced variety or a vintage selection. Laurent Perrier and Moët & Chandon are the more affordable varieties and vintage Champagnes include Dom Pérignons and Krugs.

If you’re opting for a sparkling wine made outside of the Champagne of France you can expect to pay anywhere from $8 to $30 a bottle. The price difference depends on the vineyard, the bottling process, and taste. ?

There are also exclusive champagnes that are available for purchase that range from a few hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars. Vintage bottles of Pol Roger Winston Churchill can sell for $300 to $600 dollars and rare finds, including bottles salvaged from the bottom of the Baltic Ocean on a crashed 1907 ocean liner, may sell for upwards of $10,000.

3. Choose the bottle size.  Champagnes come in a wide variety of bottle sizes. Pay attention to the size of the bottle when making your selection. If you are choosing a bottle that is above 3 liters be prepared for a higher price tag because the glass bottles are far more difficult to make. You may also want to consider choosing smaller bottles in order to enjoy several different champagnes.

4. Select a variety based on sparkle, taste, and color.  There are three main differences in champagnes; sparkle, taste, and color. These differences make up the unique flavor of each champagne and are important to your selection process.

  • Sparkle The champagne’s sparkle is determined both by its nature and its temperature. If you choose a bottle that barely sparkles in your mouth it is a sign that it isn’t cold enough or it is of poor quality. A good rule of thumb is that the smaller the size of the bubbles the higher the quality. The amount of sparkle, also known as sparkling intensity, is really up to the individual and depends primarily on personal preference.
  • Taste The tastes of champagnes are incredibly varied and offer something for every individual preference. Brut is a popular flavor of champagne and boasts a dry and oaky taste. You may be interested in a sweeter variety that features hints of citrus or vanilla. It is important to pay attention to both the dryness and the flavor of the specific variety when choosing a bottle.
  • Color There are many different colors available ranging from amber to silver to pink. The most common color of champagne is a faint yellow color created by the skins of the grapes used.

Romance and Champagne

When the Romans were attempting to establish viable vineyards in the Champenois region of northern France around the fifth century, things didn’t look good for the now highly-prized wines from that region.  Pale and pink in color, the wines from that region were not very full-bodied, and often very acidic.  Also, the temperate north rather than the warmer south meant that the grapes failed to ripen fully, and cold winters often stopped the fermentation process altogether in the chilly months, only for it to start again as the temperature rose in the Spring – at worst, casks and bottles would burst under gas pressure, and at best, the wine would be full of bubbles, much to the horror of the French makers, who considered this a terrible fault.

However, the British, not generally renowned for their culinary good taste during the 18th century, developed something of a taste for sparkling wine, especially amongst the upper classes and aristocracy.  Not to be outdone, the French claimed back their previously considered “spoiled” wine as their own, and champagne as a drink associated with wealth and celebration was born.

What’s in a Name?

Champagne obviously takes its name from the region in which the famous pinot noir grapes are grown, but did you know that one of the most famous brand names in the champagne industry – Dom Perignon – was actually that of a 17th century monk?  A perfectionist, Dom Perignon insisted on the vines now growing above a certain height, and limiting contact between pressing and grape skin, thus standardizing the pale perfection of today’s champagnes rather than the more pinkish hue generally expected from a white wine made from red grapes.

Sweet as Sugar

The British didn’t let their early fascination with sparkling wine wane, and much debate and experimentation went on with regard to making it bubble.  Christopher Merret, a scientist, opined that pretty much any wine could be made to sparkle by adding sugar.  Poems and plays of the period mention the beauty of a glass of sparkling champagne with increasing regularity, with an early link between champagne and romance made in the 1693 play “Love and a Bottle”.

Vive la Revolution

Champagne even managed to show some love back during the end of the eighteenth century – champagne merchants happily changed the titles of noblemen and women to the revolution approved “Citizen” on their invoices, thus saving many lives.  As the aristocracy fled across Europe to safety, many of the brand names we recognize today fled with them.

You might think that EU rules and regulations about what can and cannot call itself champagne might have taken some of the modern day romance out of this most luxurious of sparkling wines, but whether it’s engagement or wedding, special occasion or just because we can, champagne is still our first choice of wine to add a special glamor and polish to any occasion.  From a humble and disappointingly flat product that was a laughing stock amongst its more established wine-growing neighbors, this acidic formerly pink drink has pulled off the most romantic transformation of all, truly going from ugly duckling to beautiful swan.

5 Myths About Champagne

5-myths-about-champagneWho doesn’t love a little bubbly with dessert or brunch? Once reserved for weddings and New Year’s Eve, Champagne is becoming increasingly popular for everyday drinking and smaller occasions. However, there are still a lot of myths floating around about this fizzy, bubble wine beverage. Here’s a closer look at those myths and the real truth that they’re masking.

Myth 1: Champagne gets you drunk faster than other wines.

Many people have come to believe that they’ll get sloppy a lot faster drinking Champagne than if they were to drink red or white wine. This is a myth, as champagne is 12% alcohol by volume on average. By comparison, red wine is usually about 13% alcohol and white wine is usually around 11.5%. If you drink 8 ounces of Champagne, you should not be any more or less drunk than if you were to drink an equal quantity of red or white wine. The thing is, most people drink Champagne faster than they drink wine, since the bubbles help it go down so easily. Moderate your drinking, and you should be just fine.

Myth 2: All carbonated wine is Champagne.

This may be true colloquially, but technically, there are many types of bubbly or sparkling wine and Champagne is just one of them. Champagne is made in the Champagne region of France from specific types of grapes. Other sparking wines include Cava, which is a Spanish specialty, and Prosecco, which is made in Italy. Carbonated wines made in Australia or the US are sold as “sparkling wine.”

Myth 3: Champagne must be served in a champagne flute.

Though you often see Champagne served in flute for special occasions, this is more for show than anything. To fully enjoy the nuanced flavors of the bubbly, it’s actually better to serve it in a wider white wine glass. This allows the drink to have more contact with your tongue as you sip it. There’s also more space for you to enjoy the aroma of the Champagne, which really enhances the experience.

Myth 4: There are two types of Champagne: sweet and dry.

There’s actually a whole spectrum of sweetness, so you can find a Champagne that’s a great match for your tastes. Usually, Champagnes are divided into five categories based on sweetness.

  • Demi-Sec: This is the sweetest Champagne and is usually served with dessert.
  • Sec: These Champagnes are slightly less sweet and may be a nice choice for breakfast.
  • Brute: A good middle-of-the-road Champagne with sweetness comparable to Riesling.
  • Extra Brute: These Champagnes are dry without too much bite.
  • Brute Nature: The driest Champagnes fall into this category. Usually, these are paired with cheeses and meats or served with dinner.

Myth 5: Champagne should be served ice cold.

This myth probably comes from the images of Champagne bottles sitting in ice buckets at cafes along the French sidewalk. While you want your Champagne a bit chilled, serving it ice cold will just mask the more nuanced flavors. The drier the Champagne, the warmer you want to serve it. Brute Nature and Extra Brute Champagnes can be put in the fridge for about 20 minutes before serving. Sec, Brute, and Demi-Sec will be perfect if refrigerated for about an hour. There’s no reason to keep the bottle on ice unless the you’re outside where the temperature is soaring (as in those French photographs.)

The world of Champagne is a fun one to explore! Now that you know the truth behind these myths, feel free to sample different varieties in the glasses of your choice without that ice bucket by your side. Happy sipping!

 

Writing that Perfect Champagne Toast

champagne toastEvery occasion or event has its own special moment built right into it. A wedding ceremony is momentous, but for some couples, it might be the cutting of the cake or the exchanging of rings that makes the event that much more special. For a birthday party, it might be blowing out the candles on the cake or opening the gifts that really stop the show. Regardless of what the event is, there’s more than likely going to be a toast with champagne of some sort. There are right and wrong ways to write the perfect champagne toast, but the easiest way to do it right is to fall back on answering the age old question of who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Who – This might be the most important question you’ll answer to write your toast. Who are you toasting? The language you use might depend on the age of your toast recipients, for instance. Whoever that might be, remember that your toast is for them.

What – What are you toasting to? Simply, what is the occasion? Quite naturally, this is where your deepest inspiration will hail from. There are hundreds of prewritten toasts for you to borrow from if you need more inspiration. However, don’t settle for a cookie cutter version of what you wish to say. Make it specific to what the occasion is.

When – If your toast comes at the beginning of the occasion, there could be more people there who are alert. If it comes right after the most special part has passed, your toast will need to grab the guests’ attention. Make sure you play on the emotions and traits of the recipient. When also refers to the time of day or year you will be making your toast. It would be perfect if you could incorporate the current season into your toast. Even the slightest reference will do.

Where – You want to consider where you are going to be making your toast. Is it going to be outside or inside, in a restaurant or in someone’s home, or is it in the backyard or in the living room? The setting is as important as what you are toasting to. Depending on where you are set to deliver your toast, you might want to make it longer, especially in casual settings like a living room.

Why – This could be a difficult question to answer, as it has its layers. On the one hand, you need to know why you were chosen to make a toast. You’ll want your words to reflect your relationship to the recipient. Also, make it a point to prove why you were the best person to make the toast. Don’t be shy! Preference your toast with, “We’ve known each other since”, “As your older brother/sister”, or simply say, “To my dearest friend/coworker”.

How – While there is a list of general rules and toasting etiquette you can refer to in order to make your toast perfect, don’t get caught up following a thousand rules. It will be perfect if it’s from the heart and to the point. Speak clearly and loud enough and make sure you have everyone’s attention before commencing. There’s nothing worse than realizing half your audience missed your toast.

Before you join the festivities during your next big occasion, remember that a toast has its own time. You not only want to make it at the perfect time, but you should make it as perfect as possible. Keep it short and sweet. Remember why you’re toasting and to whom you’re toasting.

The Busiest Times of Year for Purchasing Champagne

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Champagne, a type of sparkling wine produced from grapes from the Champagne region of France, is among the most recognizable drinks in the world. It is used across the globe in times of celebration, and is often seen as an indulgent and luxurious beverage. With that being sad, it should come as no surprise that champagne is particularly popular during certain times of the year. In fact, champagne sales and consumption dip and peak throughout the 12-month calendar year, but their popularity always takes over during periods of significant celebration and, in particular, romance.

The Winter Holidays

New Year’s Eve is the biggest day for the consumption of champagne across the United States and in Europe, as well. Champagne toasts have become synonymous with ringing in the new year. According to experts, 360 million glasses of champagne are served across the United States on New Year’s eve. Many of those glasses are used for midnight toasts. According to restaurateurs, they do not sell as many individual bottles of champagne to table as many people would expect.

Christmas and Thanksgiving are also fairly popular holidays for champagne, as well. According to experts, champagne is a popular gift, as well as a popular drink during the holiday season. The same is true for Thanksgiving, which also has hardy champagne sales in the week leading up to the holiday.

Valentine’s Day

The week leading up to Valentine’s day sees a balloon in sales for champagne and other sparkling beverages. According to experts, about 1.6 million bottles of champagne are sold during Valentine’s day. While the numbers trail that of New Year’s Eve and Thanksgiving,it is all relative. According to experts, sales of champagne dip heavily after New Years, spike again during Valentine’s day, the drop off once again until wedding season approaches. Valentine’s day is trumped only by the winter holiday’s in champagne sales.

Wedding Season

While, pound for pound, New Year’s eve and Valentine’s day, utilize the most bubbly out of any single calendar day, it can be argued that the wedding season is the biggest season for champagne consumption, and, thus sales. Running from early April, through early October, the wedding season kicks off quickly, but lulls in the deep summer months, only to pick back up in September, when temperatures begin to dip again. Wedding season, as many insiders call it, puts a premium on venues, photographers, and even florists, so it would stand to reason that the season, packed with love and commitment,would be a huge time for champagne sales and usage.

Most weddings include, at the very least, a champagne toast. When wedding season officially is, however, differs based on location. For example, in the east, it begins a bit later, often in May, but in the South it begins in March and lulls during the oppressive heat of July and August.

When to Buy

While champagne sales have their peak, buying champagne,for the most part, is a relatively easy process and is a simply transaction regardless of the time of year. If you, however, are searching for a particular vintage, brand or style of champagne, it is best to head into the store you are shopping at at least two weeks before you need the item, to ensure it is either in stock, or can be ordered in time for your celebration or romantic evening. Dealing with retailers directly may yield you the best results in finding a particular vintage.