Champagne is the most festive of beverages, traditionally served at times of celebration (weddings, births, holidays, etc.). Personally, if I have learned one lesson in life, it is from a friend of mine, Les, who insists that every day should be celebrated ... and Champagne should always be flowing.
Here are some bits about Champagne that you may find interesting. ...
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We asked the kind folks at Morganelli’s for some bubbly recommendations. Here are the picks from James Alford:
Priced right: Graham Beck Brut, a South African Chardonnay/Pinot Noir blend in the Method Champagne, $15.99
Mid-range: Moutard Brut grand Cuvee, France, $29.99
Upper-end: Francoise Bedel Brut, France, $53.99
Bottom’s up, no limit: Vilmart & Cie Grand Cellier Rubis 2009 Brut Premier Cru, France, $134.99
Did you know...
Veuve Clicquot, one of the most prestigious Champagne houses, was run by a woman — Barbe Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin. She took over the family business at, after the death of her husband in 1805, and became one of the first businesswomen of modern times. That year, 110,000 bottles of Champagne were shipped, 25,000 of which were intended for Russia. In 1810, Madame Clicquot created the first recorded vintage champagne in the region.
Champagne has a range of sweetness based on the ripeness of the grapes and the amount of sugar added after the second fermentation. From Dry to sweet, here is the breakdown:
Extra Brut: less than 6 grams of residual sugar per litre
Brut: less than 12 grams
Extra Dry: between 12 and 17 grams
Sec: between 17 and 32 grams
Demi-sec: between 32 and 50 grams
Doux: 50 grams
Blade to bottle
Invented by one of the calvarymen in Napoleon’s army, sabering is an exciting way to open a champagne bottle.
Hold the chilled Champagne bottle with a towel or gloved hand (we are going to be breaking glass ... and you do not want to cut yourself). First, make sure you have cleaned the neck of the Champagne bottle. Run your finger around the bottle until you find the seam that runs from top to bottom. Turn the bottle so that the seam faces up and, more importantly, the bottle should not be aimed at anyone or anything. Start creating friction by sliding the back side of a wide, heavy fixed-blade knife up and down the neck of the bottle (Napoleon’s men would use their short sabers, a side-arm weapon with a blade about 12 to 14 inches long). With a stroke not unlike returning a tennis ball (forehand with follow-through) run the blade of the knife from the base of the neck to the top of the bottle. You should be able to strike the cage and see the cork (as well as the cage and top of the glass bottle) fly.
Champagne is sold in a wide array of bottle sizes. A standard Champagne flute holds 6 ounces, so count on a 5-ounce pour per flute. From smallest to largest, here are the bottle names and volumes:
Split or Piccolo: A quarter-bottle, 6.3 ounces, 1 glass
Half Bottle or Demi: 12.7 ounces, 3 glasses
Bottle: 25.4 ounces, 6 glasses
Magnum: holds equivalent of 2 bottles, 50.7 ounces, 12 glasses
Jeroboam: 4 bottles, 101.4 ounces, 24 glasses
Rehoboam: 6 bottles, 156 ounces, 36 glasses
Methuselah: 8 bottles, 202.8 ounces, 48 glasses
Salmanazar: 12 bottles, 307.2 ounces, 72 glasses
Balthazar: 16 bottles, 416 ounces, 96 glasses
Nebuchadnezzar: 20 bottles, 520 ounces, 120 glasses. Average weight of a full bottle of this size is 83.5 pounds.
Solomon: 24 bottles, 811.5 ounces, 144 glasses
Sovereign: 34 bottles, 845 ounces, 200 glasses
Primat: 36 bottles, 913 ounces, 216 glasses
Melchizedek: 40 bottles, 1,014.4 ounces, 240 glasses
+ creme de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) = Kir Royale
+ raspberry liqueur (such as Chambord) = Kir Imperial
+ orange juice = Mimosa
+ peach juice = Bellini
Bubbles of thought...
“There are three things I shall never attain: Envy, content andsufficient Champagne.” – Dorothy Parker
“Lord,please let them acceptthe things they can’t change / And pray that all of their pain be Champagne.” – Kanye West
“My dear girl, there aresome things that just aren’t done, such as drinking Dom Perignon ’53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit.” – James Bond
“I drink Champagne when I win, to celebrate. ...And I drink Champagne when I lose,to console myself.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
There are about 50 million bubbles in a regular bottle of Champagne
The longest recorded flight of a Champagne cork is 174 feet, launched from level ground at Woodbury Vineyards in New York State.
Glass or coupe? Wine experts agree that Champagne should be served in a tall flute to allow the bubbles to last longer. The coupe, some believe to be based on the shape of Marie Antionette’s breast, should be reserved for something other than Champagne.
4 ounces (1/2 cup) chilled Champagne or prosecco
2 ounces (1/4 cup) chilled Guinness Extra Stout
Pour Champagne into a flute or other tall glass. Pour the Guinness on top (because the beer is heavier, pour it first so that the drink combines evenly).
Bloody French 75
3 blood oranges (about 1 pound)
1 1/2 cups gin
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon angostura bitters
2 750-ml bottles chilled Champagne
Cut orange in half through stem. Cut each orange half crosswise into 6 slices, reserve for garnish.
Using a small knife, cut peel and white pith from the remaining 2 oranges, chop oranges. Transfer chopped oranges with juices to bowl and mash with potato masher or wooden spoon. Stir in gin, sugar and bitters.
Strain into 2-cup measuring cup, pressing on solids to release liquid. Chill 4 hours.
Pour scant 2 tablespoons gin mixture into each of 12 glasses. Fill glasses with Champagne and garnish with orange.
Death in the Afternoon
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) absinthe
1/2 to 3/4 cup (4 to 6 ounces) cold Champagne
Pour absinthe into tall fluted glass. Add Champagne until a milky cloud appears, then serve.
Classic Champagne Cocktail
3 drop bitters
1 sugar cube
1 ounce Cognac
4 ounces chilled Champagne
Drop bitters onto sugar cube; let soak in. Place sugar cube in a Champagne flute. Add Cognac and top with Champagne.
What about beer?
Morganelli’s also has great beer selections that would be great for any New Year’s Even toast.