Nothing could be more elegant than a glass of champagne to start a meal. For a sure-fire success, go for a non-vintage Brut.
Or opt for a Rosé with its delicate hue. Alternatively, dare to be different, surprise your guests by popping open a Blanc de Blancs made from 100% Chardonnay.
N° 02 / How to saber a bottle of Champagne?
Stand back! To protect your friends and everything else, make sure you have enough room before attempting to saber.
Prepare… Take off the foil cap and loosen the wire, before tightening it a little again around the cork to make sure it doesn't get away. Next, and this is a key moment in the ceremony, carefully examine the neck of the bottle and find the join in the glass. Find the place where this join meets the narrowest part of the bottle: that's the weak spot, and that's where you'll aim.
Saber! Hold the bottle firmly by the bottom in one hand with your thumb well ensconced in the base, cork pointing skywards. Tilt it at a 45-60 degree angle. Finally, pick up your saber, preferably a short-bladed one, use the blunt edge of the saber. Practise with the precise strike of the blade against the flange in a wide, open space away from unprotected eyes!
Flute sabring Holding the flute by the stem, place it at 90° to the neck of the bottle prepared in advance, as usual, strike the wire with a firm stroke. Practise in case you break the glass and not the bottle.
N° 03 / What starters can be served with Champagne?
Do you love having a glass of champagne before your meal?
Be creative and adventurous, serve a dry non-vintage champagne with savoury puff pastries, canapés and tapas, but beware of bitter flavours such as that of olive tapenade, which would be an affront to the fresh taste of the champagne.
Prefer a Blanc de Blancs?
Offer seafood that has been prepared simply, such as sushi or sashimi.
With a rosé champagne, have a little fun with colour: smoked salmon, taramosalata or a high-quality cured ham makes a great impression. When enjoying a mature vintage, know that such a champagne can pair up perfectly with certain cheeses, to be served in bite-sized cubes.
N° 04 / How to accompany Champagne with the entire meal?
The all-champagne dinner is an exquisite pleasure in which you may fully indulge. Each step and type of dish corresponds to a different style of champagne, and the idea is to work your way up from the more acidic to the less acidic, for example from the lively to the more full-bodied, or from the mild to the hearty.
It is good practice to provide one glass per type of champagne to avoid mixing, and obviously to leave guests free to finish their glass or not. Your guests will also appreciate a menu presenting the precise name of each champagne and the corresponding dish it is paired with.
N° 05 / How to cook with Champagne?
Using the great wine in a recipe is like delicate lace upon a dress: precious, subtle, a symbol of lightness adding a tiny hint of originality and sophistication: its acidity lifts a creamy sauce much more effectively than lemon zest, while its effervescence adds a certain lightness to a preparation, which suddenly becomes frothy and airy. It is also perfect for deglazing or lifting a sauce or a sabayon.
Do not limit its use to desserts: carpaccio of John Dory langoustine tartare, roasted sea bass, fillet of piglet confit and a variety of risottos can all benefit from the perfumed aromas of champagne. Brut is naturally preferable for savoury dishes, demi-sec for desserts. The champagne used in the preparation of a dish is the most natural and appropriate accompaniment.
N° 06 / Which are the most classic cocktails with Champagne?
Clearly, we all know that champagne needs nothing adding to it! But you might occasionally try one of the two classic options: a simple but subtly balanced kir royal (champagne and blackcurrant syrup) or the famed Bellini (peach purée and champagne).
And ponder the fact that the acidity of the wine makes an ideal base to which you can add another alcohol or a fruity and sweet ingredient (liquor, syrup, fruit puree). There is scope for (almost) limitless creativity in giving your non-vintage brut champagne new life.
N° 07 / How to make a Champagne fountain?
Spectacular, fragile, magnificent, the cascade of golden bubbles is part of Champagne legend. The champagne fountain is not that hard to do. All it needs is for you to organise your coupes, (or flutes, or wine glasses) on a stable and flat base.
The key is to place your first glasses in terms of the final desired shape: four for a square, three for a triangle, only one for a round pyramid
the other glasses are then placed in concentric circles around the first. At every level, place your glasses at alternate intervals. Once the construction is finished, pour the champagne from the top: when it flows, it fills the glasses, layer by layer. Cue applause!
N° 08 / How to toast correctly?
You would be surprised to learn how many errors can ruin a good toast: drinking to one's own health, drinking before the glasses have clinked, drinking before the toast is finished, and raising a toast with an empty glass or a glass of water.
Other than those already mentioned, don't forget to clink your glass with everyone present. Above all, a toast is an occasion to share with others, so enjoy your contact with them.
N° 09 / How to clink glasses the Champagne style?
Looking into the other person's eyes, clinking with contact (or without it, as the Americans do), avoiding crossing arms with the other guests, saying 'cheers', 'your very good health' or 'chin chin'... There are countless rules for toasting which depend on where you are and who you are with.
In France, where champagne is made, it is highly recommended to look directly into the eyes of the person whose glass you are clinking.
N° 10 / How to optimise your Champagne experience?
What are the bigger sizes of Champagne bottles?
For around fifteen flutes, crack open a magnum rather than two ordinary-sized bottles. And if you're expecting a really big crowd? Pop the cork on a 3-litre jeroboam (31 glasses, 4 bottles) or even better, why not haul out a 6-litre methuselah (61 glasses, 8 bottles)? Think big!
What is the perfect temperature to drink Champagne?
For champagne, too cold a temperature (less than 6°C) reduces the fizz, alters the aromas and even numbs the taste buds.
On the other hand, too warm a temperature (above 14°C) creates excess foam, which can make the bottle harder to open and mask its aromas. So you must remember this: 8°C for the perfect taste, structure and aroma.
How to open a bottle of Champagne?
First turn the bottle gently upside down and create an absolutely even temperature.
Next, hold the bottle in one hand by the body and not by the neck. Release the bottle from its foil cap by pulling the tab.
Uncover the wire cage, which holds the cork in place. Loosen then remove it, leaving the cork fully exposed. Hold it firmly in one hand, slightly tilted. Keep the thumb of your other hand firmly on the cork to control the air pressure. Now, here's the secret for success: turn the bottle, not the cork, so that the latter slips away from the side of the bottle at each turn.
Let the bottle hiss gently, building up to a sweet little pop: the perfect music to titillate the taste buds and lift the spirits. After all, the sign of true class is elegance and discretion.
What kind of glass to serve Champagne in?
Serving champagne in wine glasses is recommended second to flutes. Those for fine wines, with a high stem and a large bowl, are perfect for capturing the specific flavour of old vintage champagnes that are full-bodied and mature.
Or opt for tulip-shaped glasses, not as narrow as flutes but more slender than the classic wine glass, which concentrate the flavours while allowing room for full effervescence.
How to fill the glasses?
To avoid spillage, it is better to serve in two phases: the trick is to pour an initial amount of wine, slowly tilting the glass the flow along the wall will promote the formation of bubbles.
Take a pause to allow the foam to subside, then pour a second time to fill half (or two thirds) of the glass.
How to conserve Champagne?
How long to keep your wine in the cellar? One thing is plain and simple: the more champagne combines the criteria of excellence (great vintage, extended ageing, etc.), the longer it is worth storing if you are sensitive to sophisticated aromas of dried fruit, underbrush, or even mushrooms.
Conversely, non-vintage brut champagne is not intended to be kept to one side for long, so drink it quickly to take advantage of its freshness and fruitiness.
A happy life of champagne is one lived out of sight. And lying down! When horizontal, the contact with the wine allows the cork to retain its elasticity, and therefore its water-tightness. In addition, stillness and calm contribute to good conservation: do not handle your bottles incessantly, leave them alone until the time has come to take them back up into the light for tasting.
Not for sale to persons under the age of 18. Drink responsibly.
KENILWORTH RACING (PTY) LTD IS LICENSED BY THE WESTERN CAPE GAMBLING AND RACING BOARD.
NO PERSONS UNDER THE AGE OF 18 ARE PERMITTED TO GAMBLE. WINNERS KNOW WHEN TO STOP.
NATIONAL RESPONSIBLE GAMBLING PROGRAMME, TOLL-FREE COUNSELLING LINE 0800 00 6008.