Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 5th 2014 Contents |WINE|
MAGAZINE | 11
WHILE I HA
ing this week, the interest in Champagne has been so
overwhelming that I decided to stay on this topic for
another two weeks. In last week's article on Cham-
pagne, some basics on this captivating drink were cov-
ered. This week I will continue to share some more
information on this alluring drink. Thousands of bottles
would have been opened and drunk to celebrate the
New Year --- whether with a big pop, a puff or hiss. Let's
talk about the correct, safe and controlled way to open
and serve Champagne, as thousands more bottles will
be opened this year in celebration of weddings, anniver-
saries, birthdays and other celebrations.
TO OPEN AND SERVE
• Break and remove the foil, not the wire cage, from
around the cork.
• Place your thumb firmly on the top of the cork to keep
the cork from flying off.
• With your other hand, unscrew the wire (it takes
about six turns) and loosen the cage. You actually
don't have to take the cage off completely
• Holding the cork firmly, begin to twist it in one direc-
tion; you twist the bottle in the other direction. Con-
trary to popular belief, a Champagne cork should not
make a loud thwock. You're supposed to ease the cork
out, so that it makes just a light hissing sound. One
older Frenchman had advised me that a Champagne
bottle, correctly opened, should make a sound not
more than "a contented woman's sigh"; then again
French men are French men, after all.
• Holding the bottle around the base, pour. Fill each
glass with about 2 inches of Champagne, then go
back and top them up.
• If there's Champagne left, seal the bottle using a
Champagne stopper and place back in the ice bucket
• Do not immediately top up glasses with fresh Cham-
pagne every time a sip has been taken. Just as top-
ping up a half-filled cup of coffee ensures that you will
never have the satisfaction of a fresh, steaming hot
cup, so too, frequent topping up of Champagne can
mean the wine is never nicely chilled, wait until there
is about one sip left before topping up.
bottle upside down in an ice bucket
THE FINE PRINT ON THE BOTTLE
A champagne bottle always carries one of the following
designations in the small print on its label:
NM: Négociant-manipulant: This refers to houses that
buy grapes to make their wines.
RM: Récoltant-manipulant: This refers to growers who
make and sell Champagnes from their own grapes.
They can buy only 5 % of additional grapes.
RC: Récoltant-cooperateur: growers that make and sell
Champagnes with the help of cooperatives.
CM: Coopérative-manupulant: a gathering of growers
who make and sell Champagnes on behalf their mem-
MA: Marque d' acheteur: a brand that is owned by a
third party and not by the maker of the wine.
THE BUBBLE STORY
Ever watch people being handed flutes of Champagne?
At least half of them immediately stand up straighter
and adopt a sexier tone of voice. The flute is elegant,
sleek and long lined and is about as sophisticated as
Flute-shaped glasses were already in use for beer and
ale by the time Champagne made its debut in the late
17th century. The basic shape evolved from the conical
glasses made between the 1300 and 1500 in Venice.
These, in turn, were inspired by some of the earliest
drinking vessels, such as animal horns. Serendipitously,
the art of glassmaking was reaching its apex just as
Champagne making was beginning. By the late 17th
century, Venetian glassmakers were capable of creating
fragile goblets that possessed remarkable clarity. As
Champagne vessels, the flute and its cousin the "tulip"
glass, proved to be eminently practical. When Cham-
pagne is poured into either, the CO2 gas dissolved in the
liquid rubs against microscopic points on the glasses'
seemingly smooth inside surface. The friction causes
the gas to burst into bubbles.
But there is more: bubbles in any liquid vary in size de-
pending on the pressure of the surrounding liquid. By
virtue of the increased pressure at their bases, the flute
beaded lines of especially tiny
As for the saucer-shaped Champagne coupe (often
used at weddings), legend has it that the first was a
porcelain version invented by Marie Antoinette, who
used her breast (reports say her left breast, because it
was closer to the heart) as the mould. Notwithstanding
such a compelling beginning, the coupe is terrible for
Champagne. In it, bubbles dissipate quickly, the Cham-
pagne is easily warmed by the drinkers' hand and the
vessel itself is so frustratingly shallow, it hardly holds
more than two sips.
Not surprisingly, in the region of Champagne, coupes
are never seen. But remarkably, there aren't many
flutes, either. At most Champagne houses, the slightly
wider tulip or a deeper white wine glass with a gener-
ous round bowl is preferred. Accordingly to Remi Krug,
managing director of the Champagne House that bears
his family name, a generous tulip glass is better than a
flute for appreciating the Champagne's aroma. Being
able to watch a long train of bubbles isn't particularly
important to Krug either. Bubbles, he says, are simply
meant to be discreetly felt "dancing in the mouth".
Being such a captivating drink, there will always be
much interest in exploring the world of Champagne. I
will continue on this topic next week, and explore how
dry is Champagne, what are "Biblical bottles" in Cham-
pagne "speaks", and some other interesting facts on
this alluring drink
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