Drink Champagne or Sparkling Wine... Find Excuses to Celebrate

by Yeirl

Have an occasion to celebrate? Or need an excuse to find an occasion to celebrate badly? No difference here... What is a finer way to do than with Champagne or sparkling wines...

NAPOLEON BONAPARTE:
In victory, you deserve Champagne.
In defeat, you need it.

ME:
Drink Champagne or Sparkling wine often.
Reduce global warming.

NOT ALL SPARKLING WINES ARE CHAMPAGNES

Copyright and branding are important issues for all involved in creative activities.  Wine making is also a creative activity.  So, unless your sparkling wine is from the Champagne region of France, you are not actually drinking Champagne;  You are drinking a sparkling wine.  The Champagne makers follow a very difficult method called Methode Champenoise, and sparkling wines from other areas in France are not even called Champagne.  They are called Mousseux. 

Sparkling sounds perfectly awesome.  We could have called these wines fizzy wines or carbon-dioxide-captured-inside wines.  Let the sparkling wines just sparkle.

And, you can find awesome sparkling wines made throughout the world, but I will only talk about the ones I had a chance to drink.  I like non-vintage relatively cheap sparkling wines because I drink them often. 

What is it about Champagne and sparkling wines we absolutely love?  Those tiny little bubbles floating up when we drink? Yep. adults and children alike... we all love bubbles of many forms!

CHAMPAGNE...

Champagne is mostly blended wine (with whites and reds), but you may also see Blanc de blancs (made only from white grapes, Chardonnay 100%), Blanc de noirs (made only from red grapes), and rose (has some red wine added to give it a pink color).

Champagnes can be dry (Brut, most popular), medium dry (Sec), and Sweet (demi-sec, great with desserts)

In general, the more white grapes, the lighter they style, more acidic and more elegant. But, those with more red grapes are heavier and sometimes can be rich in flavor.  

Champagne can also be vintage or non-vintage.  Vintage means that all of the grapes are from the same year, and the wine is aged for 36 months.  Non-vintage means that the wines can come from several different years.  But, it has to be aged at least one year.

MANY FACES OF SPARKLING WINES

ONLY LISTED ONES I TRIED

Sparkling wines are made all over the world.  That's a great news because you can try a variety of them for very good prices.

ITALIAN

Prosecco: sweet Italian sparkling wine.  Best with appetizers before dinner.

Asti Spumanti: sweet to semi-sweet Italian sparkling wine. best with sweet desserts, or some just drink it by itself.

 

SPANISH (AS IN FROM SPAIN)

CAVA: Spanish sparkling wine that is light and fruity. I personally like CAVA.  They are cheap and have plenty of character.

 

SPARKLING WINES MADE IN THE USA

Most large winemakers carry their own sparkling wines.  Most are perfectly fine if you just want to drink sparkling wine with no special reason or occasions... Why not!

HOW DO YOU PICK YOUR SPARKLING WINES?

MY BIASED OPINION...

Charles Heidsieck Champagne 1985
Great medium-bodied, recommended for fine occasions like a Wedding.

Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut Bosco di Gica
Prosecco Italian sparkling wine for everyday good occasions.

Segura Viudas Aria Brut Cava
Spain sparkling Cava wine for everyday! Cheap and refreshing

Domaine Ste Michelle Sparkling Brut
Made in Washington state, cheap and light and perfect for sushi.

THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO OPEN SPARKLING WINES...including sabering (as in using a knife)

THIS IS BETTER WAY TO IMPRESS ANYONE WITH STYLE

UNDER PRESSURE... ALL BOTTLED IN...

Sparkling wines are bottled under pressure... three times that of your car tires.  And I don't mean the ones sitting in the garage, flat.  That means, if you open your sparkling wine heedlessly, it can really hurt someone or something and cause some form of serious damage... and some will be certain that you have a brain damage if you manage to cause such a disaster with a cork.

Not sure how to open the bottle?  No problem.  YouTube to the rescue.  Watch and learn.  Below...

 

Another important thing is to keep sparkling wine pretty cool... Again, due to the high pressure, if the weather gets too warm, and your sparkling wine is not properly weatherized (meaning, refrigerated), you are going to hear a loud pop sound equivalent to a gun shot,  in the middle of the night, and make you wonder if there was a revolution you were not expecting in your area.

Then, you find out that it is your favorite sparkling wine bottles exploding.

CAN YOU SAY HEART BROKEN?  besides wine bottles?

 

But, if you forgot to chill your sparkling wines, do not put it in the freezer to cool it for a few minutes. With your guests around, you would be busy and more than likely forget about that high pressure wine in the freezer... and in 10-20 minutes, you will hear an explosion....

 

So, why such pressure?

sugar + yeast ----> alcohol + CO2

Sugar means sugar from the grapes.  Yeast means some in the air or some artificial ones added.  Let them hang out together for a while, and you get fermentation... alcohol happens along with carbon dioxide gas.  You lose the gas, you get regular wine.  You keep the gas, and you got bubbles... sparkling wines and Champagne.  Lots of bubbles mean lots of pressure! 

HOW TO PICK CHAMPAGNE/SPARKLING WINES

FOR YOUR DIFFERENT OCCASIONS

(1) Ask a wine shop owner.  This sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how many people are reluctant to ask for a recommendation.  Now that you have a very very basic information, what he/she tells you may make sense.  The store also knows what they have for different occasions.

(2) Except for very rare special occasions like weddings, the best is non-vintage sparkling wine that you can afford without much fuss.  However, this is one case that the name on the label is important. Since they are blended wines, the shipper (names on the labels like Moet Chandon, Piper heidsieck and Roederer) decides the quality of wine, and usually you can't go wrong with those names.

(3) Champagne is very versatile with food, and some are recommend with cheese, grilled fish with light sauce and even with dessert. Most are dry (Brut) and fine with aperitif, but if you have sweet sparkling wines, they are perfect for wedding cakes and cakes in general.

SPARKLING WINE GLASSES

SLENDER AND ELEGANT AND MORE LASTING BUBBLES

Do you ever wonder why wine glasses are shaped as such?

There is a long neck shaped (flute) and also fine tulip-shaped glasses.

It turns out that there is some logic to this.  Since someone somewhere in wine industry worked very hard to keep those bubbles inside the bottle, we don't want them to disappear into the air as soon as we pour them in wine glasses.  Longer the glasses, the longer bubbles stay in the glass.  And you can see those tiny bubbles coming up from the bottom... looks very elegant, too.

There are wide and shallow shaped Champagne glasses, too, and the rumor has it that they molded to the shape of Marie Antoinette's boobs or Helen of Troy.  These are traditional ones and go very well with much sweeter sparkling wines, but I personally prefer dry.

A FEW OF COOL LOOKING GLASSES

CHEERS!
Mikasa Cheers Champagne Flutes, Set of 4

This fun new barware group from Mikasa is perfect for home entertaining or gift giving. Each of the 4 large size flute champagne glasses is decorated with a different etched ...

$59.00  $39.99

View on Amazon

Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal Saucer Champagne 9.5 Ounce, Set of 6

Schott Zwiesel, the famed German producer of The Best Crystal Glassware has been a leader in innovation, style and technology for more than 100 years. The company has many ...

$78.00  $41.95

View on Amazon

Waterford Happy Celebrations Crystal Flute Glasses, Set of 2

Introducing Waterford Wishes - enhancing each toast you make at every special occasion. With cuts designed to represent the bubbles in champagne, these flutes are perfect for ...

Only $135.00

View on Amazon

Lolita Hand Painted Champagne Glass, Celebrate

It holds the most preferred and favorite drink for when you have a reason to celebrate. The flute shaped glass holds 7-1/2-Ounce of your choice in bubbly. When shopping for ...

Only $49.99

View on Amazon

WILL WRITE FOR WINE?

COME JOIN AND HAVE A BLAST

Wizzley

MORE WINE STUFF WRITTEN BY ME

Some of us have a bucket list... inspired by the movie, "The Bucket List." But, my list is a little different... It's the list of wine buckets I think are awesome!
Updated: 03/31/2012, Yeirl
 
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Yeirl on 04/02/2012

Did you survive April Fool's Day? Good enough reason to celebrate, I think! Thanks for the comment

katiem2 on 04/01/2012

Hmmmmm I still have a bottle of bubbly in the fridge from New Years, Maybe this page is a good reason to celebrate, open the bottle of champagne and enjoy.

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