Choosing And Storing Champagne For A Home Bar

An explanation of the differnt types of champagne availible and the best way to enjoy them.

Champagne is a great way to celebrate at any occasion. Weddings, promotions, new houses, and the start of a new year are all perfect reasons to indulge in a bit of the bubbly. But do you know your bruts from your demi-secs? If you're confused about all of the different types of champagnes available today, follow this simple guide to have the perfect accompaniment to your next celebration.

Champagne is really wine, although not all sparkling wines are considered champagne. Chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier grapes are the types used to make the bubbly beverage, either alone or in combination. Champagnes are categorized by their sweetness level, from doux (the sweetest level) to brut-zero (no sugar at all). In between are demi-sec (half-dry), sec (dry), extra sec and brut.

A majority of factors will dictate the type of champagne you should select for your occasion. The type of event, the meal being served, personal preferences, and price are all factors to consider. Rare, vintage blends can easily sell for upwards of $100, but reasonably priced ($10-$50) are easily found.

For optimum taste, the champagne should be properly chilled. To achieve this, place bottle in an ice bucket with some water for approximately thirty minutes. Alternately, you can put a bottle in the crisper compartment of a refrigerator for at least three hours. If you don't want to drink the champagne right away and want to store it for a while, keep it in a dark cool place away from heat or movement. Do not subject the wine to dramatic swings of temperature or the taste might be adversely altered.

To properly open a bottle of champagne, keep safety in mind. There is a lot of pressure inside the bottle, and you wouldn't want to risk turning your celebratory toast into a trip to the emergency room. Remove the foil from the neck of the bottle and loosen the wire cage. Begin by aiming the bottle away from any people or breakable objects and hold at a 45-degree angle. Hold the wire and cork firmly with one hand (use a bar towel if the bottle is slippery) and turn the bottle (not the cork) with the other. Gently allow the pressure inside of the bottle to force the cork out. The goal is to make the cork pop as opposed to shoot across the room.

The proper glass to enjoy your well-chilled champagne wine is a champagne flute. The long slender tube is considered ideal for sampling the wine. The cup style champagne glasses are no longer thought to preserve taste. If you don't have flutes, a large red-wine class is a suitable replacement. The glass is not meant to be topped-off, rather only about two-thirds full.

If you've all ready sampled the French variety of this festive wine, why not experiment a little? Italy's sparkling wine is called Spumante, and in Germany it's called Sekt. A South African version of the wine is known as Cap Classique. Add an ethnic flair to your next celebration with one of these continental versions of this French specialty.

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