It's a great wine for more than the occasional celebrations. Here's 8 things you maybe didn't know about these incredible wines:
◊ You don't have to drink it all at once! A good champagne stopper (we have an excellent one made in Italy, $5.5) will keep those bubbles intact for weeks. You'll have day to enjoy your wine; the wine will turn before you lose the bubbles.
◊ There are three main ways to get those bubbles in there:
-Method Champenoise: The bubbles are naturally formed during a second fermentation right in the bottle. This is the method Champagne uses and gives its name to and is used by fine producers of sparkling wine around the world. Also called Method Tradicional or Traditional Method.
-Cuvée Close: The bubbles are naturally formed during a second fermentation in a sealed tank and then the wine is bottled. This is used in Prosecco, some Michigan wines and many others.
-Carbonation: CO2 is artificially injected into still wine, just like making soda-pop!
◊ Champagne only comes from the Champagne region in France and follows the rules of that region. It is a different wine, just as a Bordeaux is different from a California Cab. So, we try to call Champagne “Champagne” and everything else either bubbly or sparkling wine. Not trying to be snooty, just giving credit where it’s due. Also, we don't care what you call it.
◊ Only three grape varietals are allowed in Champagne: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Munier. They can be made into white or rosé wines.
◊ There is great bubbly that’s not from Champagne! Here are some other regions/ styles that we have, many are exceptional values!
-Crémant: Bubbly from other regions in France, e.g., Crémant de Bourgogne from Burgundy, Crémant de Alsace from Alsace.
-Cava: The bubbly region of Spain. Many fantastic every day bubblies come from Cava.
-Prosecco: uses the Cuvée Close method (see the second bullet) and makes a smooth, creamy bubbly from Italy.
-Lambrusco: not the sweet/ cheap stuff, there is some very fine dry Lambrusco from Italy. We have a dry red that’s very tasty.
-Method Champenoise: The term used by many regions around the world that use the Champagne method of production, but not necessarily the same grape varietals. For instance, the L. Mawby bubbly from Michigan is Method Champenoise.
-Sekt: A German bubbly. Often based on Riesling thought it's typically quite dry.
◊ Bubblies are excellent food wines! If you’re trying to find a wine for hard-to-pair situations, a variety of appetizers for instance, bubbly is a great choice. I don’t know if the old adage “Champagne goes with everything” is quite right, but it’s darn close. I love bubbly with sushi.
◊ There is a trick to opening Bubbly:
How to open bubbly without losing half the bottle:
-Tear off the capsule (the foil covering). You can try to keep the part on the neck or take it all off.
-Un-twist and remove the wire cage, at the same time place your thumb firmly over the cork incase it’s ready to pop.
-With your thumb still over the cork grasp it firmly, point the bottle in a safe direction, whit your other hand grasp the bottom of the bottle.
-Slowly rotate the bottle while you hold the cork in place. As you twist the cork will start to emerge, give it resistance as if you were almost trying to keep it place.
-Soon the cork will gently eject with a “sound like the sigh a satisfied woman" as Catherine Hay of Champagne Duval Leroy once said.
How to open bubbly and lose half the bottle:
-Fetch your saber.
-Chill the heck out of the Champagne.
-Run your saber along the seam in the bottle and at just the right moment give the head of the bottle a good whack.
-Enjoy the glorious arc of expensive wine and glass shoot through the air. Actually, done properly, you don’t lose too much.
DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME, or anywhere else. At least not because you read about it here, maybe take a look at Captain Rupert’s skills.
◊ Most Champagne is made by the large Champagne houses sourcing grapes from as many as 80 vineyards and often covering the entire area of Champagne. There is also big movement in Grower Champagnes. These wines are produced by the estate that owns the vineyards. The tend to express the “terroir” of a specific area, as opposed to the larger houses who are trying to achieve a consistent house style. To find a grower champagne look for the tiny “RM” on the bottle for Récoltant-Manipulant. Large houses are “NM”; Négociant-Manipulant. We think Grower-Producer champagne is one of the most exciting areas of bubblies.