Tag Archives: champagne toast

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.

Pairing Foods With Champagne

pairing-foods-with-champagne

True champagnes have a richly deserved reputation as some of the finest, most sublime liquors in the entire world. Their sparkling texture and broad range of sweetness, however, sometimes make them difficult to properly pair with the right foods.

Here are just some of our favorites:

Chevre and Peaches.  Do yourself a favor and wait for peaches to be at the height of the summer season before creating this simple dish. A good chevre – that’s goat cheese to you non-cognoscenti – can be found throughout the year. Assembling the dish is a simple as slicing the cheese and fruit, sprinkling with one of the following herbs – we prefer basil, mint or thyme and even lavender – and then complementing with a delicate champagne like Taittinger’s la Francaise.

Apulia Bread w/Olive Oil.  This “crusty on the outside, doughy on the inside” bread is the perfect vector for transporting a load of the Egyptian condiment, dukka, drenched in a grassy olive oil into your mouth. Then add a mouthful of a demi-sec like Heidsieck & Co’s Monopole Red Top and you will be floating on a cushion of pure gastronomic joy.

Oysters Rockefeller.  Created over a century ago in the renowned restaurant, Antoine’s, in New Orleans, the rich buttery sauce of this dish beautifully complements the broiled, breaded oysters underneath. Still, some gourmands find it overly rich unless paired with a little champagne on the fruity side like Moët & Chandon’s Impérial.

Fried Mushrooms.  While many will denigrate the drinking of champagne with any fried food, a blanc de noir – made from darker grapes like pinot noir – actually makes quite a nice complement to the earthiness of the mushrooms. For a truly memorable experience, consider trying Bollinger’s Vieilles Vignes Francaises for a new look at the taste of mushrooms, chanterelles and even truffles.

Poached Eggs with Parmesan.  For a slightly different approach – one without the hollandaise – consider simple poached eggs laced with fresh basil and parmesan. Then, add a glass of a dry brut sparkling wine like Krug’s and you will have a sure-fire winner of a meal for breakfast lunch or dinner. By the way, for a little extra oomph, serve with a side of smoked salmon toast.

Steamed Lobster.  As simple as it gets, preparing lobster in this way with just onion, garlic, red pepper in the bottom of the pot makes a fantastic main course. For a little extra flair or, if it is January 1st, add some leftover champagne as the steaming liquid. Afterwards, a little more of the same – obviously a little fresher – like a dry Napoleon Tradition Brut. It is a great way to end the start of the New Year.

Chocolate Glazed Pound Cake.  This dessert has it all – the firmness and moisture of the cake and the crunchiness that turns to syrup of the bittersweet chocolate are highlighted by the sweetness of a doux champagne like those made by Fleury Pere et Fils Millesime Doux. Fathers and sons have never before made something so decadent.

Foie Gras.  This pairing goes quite far out on the limb but we think you will appreciate it. Most connoisseurs prefer fois gras with a sauterne like Chateau d’Yquem but for something completely different, try Veuvre Cliquot champagne with foie gras, a biscuit – yes, a simple buttermilk biscuit – and, dare I say it? – sausage gravy. Crazy talk. I hear ya‘ but this pairing is simply superb and quite unique.