Celebrate the New Year with Sparkling Wine service

When you think of New Years Eve, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Okay, besides Times Square and Auld Langs Syne....think wine, think sparkling, think popping corks! Champagne. But we need to be a little less specific because I know most of you aren't springing for true Champagne. Remember "all Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne". For this discussion, we'll simply focus on sparkling wine, and leave the technical differences for a later post. For the article on Sparkling wine, click here.

While I'm sure we have all had sparkling wine, are you sure you are serving it properly? Let's take a look at the "art" of serving sparkling wine.

Temperature. Storing and serving sparkling wine at a temperature of 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended. Why? The cooler the temperature, the more carbon dioxide remains trapped in the wine. This will also enhance the crispness of the wine. If you open a bottle at room temperature, you might as well just drink it out of a Dixie cup. A mistake a lot of people make is in keeping their sparkling wine chilled. Most just throw it in a bucket of ice. Remember to add water to your bucket, so the ice water can envelope the entire bottle.

Opening a bottle of sparkling wine seems daunting to some, but it is really very simple. Just remember that that bottle is under considerable pressure (from 5 to 6 atmospheres). At this pressure it can be dangerous, so make sure you aren't pointing it towards anyone. First, cut and remove the foil. Keeping your thumb on the top of the cage, untwist and remove the cage, while alternating your thumbs to keep the pressure on the cork, remove the cage. Cover the cork and top of bottle with a cloth, and hold the cork firmly. Do not twist the cork, but turn the bottle. The goal is to slowly remove the cork. The goal is to actually open the bottle without popping. As it was described by my Sommelier instructor, "the sound of opening a bottle of sparkling wine, should be the sound of a proper woman passing gas"...gotta love the visual there!

Last is pouring the sparkling wine. Make sure you are using the right glasses. Those flat, wide glasses that grandma gave you are not the best choice, as the bubbles will dissipate quickly. Champagne Flutes are the preferred serving choice. These tall thin glasses will preserve the bubbles. Make sure they are never washed with soap, as this smooths out the little rough spots that will enhance the bubbles. Your older, scratched-up glasses will produce more bubbles than your newer glasses. Next is pouring the wine. As a Sommelier, I have been taught to pour right down the center of the flute in a slow and steady stream, but I'm rethinking that. A new study by French researchers, and published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, suggests that less carbon dioxide is released when gently poured down the side of the glass. Since you typically don't swirl glasses of sparkling wine, you can fill to a higher level than still wine.

Now that you have the basics of sparkling wine service, enjoy the New Years celebration (or any other time of year), with your favorite Champagne, Cremant, Cava, Sekt, Spumante, or Sparkling wine.

Happy New Year everyone!

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