For special occasions, there’s nothing like Champagne and food. Only wine produced in Champagne, France can actually be called Champagne. In other parts of the world, these types of wine are referred to as sparkling wines. Champagne and sparkling wines are best known as the beverage for celebrations. New Years Eve, weddings and graduations are all justifiable reasons to pour the “bubbly,” but it is often overlooked as a beverage for food and wine pairing.
A multicourse meal can be hosted with Champagne and food and sparkling wine using different types of this beverage. A light, Dry Brut or sparkling wine would be enjoyable with appetizers and hors d’ouveres because most of these foods contain salt and oil which pairs well with the dryness and acidity of a Brut wine. Brut wines are drier meaning that they contain less residual sugar.
Following a course of salad or soup, a light Blanc de Blancmakes a wonderful palate-cleanser. Blanc de Blanc means “white from white” or from a white grape. They have a light, dry taste which is a perfect balance after a first course of soup or salad.
Champagne and food entrees of veal, chicken of fish make nice accompaniments to full-bodied Champagne or sparkling wine such as a Blanc De Noir. Blanc de Noirs are made from the black grape varieties of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. They are excellent with full-flavored foods.
For dessert, choose an Italian Asti which is a sweet sparkling wine. The sugars in this wine close the palate giving the meal a stylish and satisfying finish.
Many wineries in the Southwest United States, including Arizona wineries are now producing excellent sparkling wines.
How to Open a Bottle of Champagne or Sparkling Wine
Using a foil cutter or knife, cut the foil and undo the wire cage encasing the cork. Keep the cork pointed in a safe direction. Grasp the stopper in one hand and turn the bottle (not the cork) with the other hand, slowly and gently. The cork will then easily come off by itself. Note: Do not use a corkscrew to open a bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine. The bottle is under strong pressure and could explode.
How to Store Champagne or Sparkling Wine
These wines are particularly sensitive to temperature and light. That is why most are contained in a light-resistant, dark green glass bottle. Champagne and sparkling wines should be stored between 40 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. They may be kept either upright or horizontally.
How to Chill Champagne or Sparkling Wine
Prior to drinking, Champagne or sparkling wine should be chilled to a temperature between 40 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the bottle in the refrigerator for two hours or in a freezer for fifteen minutes. Or, for the classical effect, place the bottle in an ice bucket, half filled with ice and half filled with water for twenty minutes.