Whenever I sip Champagne from a fluted glass I think of Karen MacNeil, wine educator and author of The Wine Bible. Years ago, Karen joined me as a guide in producing a tour of Bordeaux for American Express Platinum cardholders. During the opening night celebration she addressed the group, raised a glass of Champagne and said, “Offer someone a flute of Champagne and watch their body language change. Regardless of the occasion, everyone sits a little straighter with a Champagne flute in hand.” I love that comment mainly because it is so true. Whether you are happy, sad, angry or frustrated – a glass of bubbly makes eveything OK – if even for a few minutes. And with so many bubbles to choose from – Cava from Spain, Sekt from Germany, Prosecco from Italy and sparkling wine from Oregon, California, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa – finding a bottle at a specific price point is not difficult. In fact, has never been easier to find the right bottle for an event or simply because its Tuesday night!
My favorite Prosecco de Conegliano to sip straight or mixed as a belini with peach puree is Canella, my favorite aperitif Champagne is Taittinger Brut, and recently I have been sipping bright red Paringa Sparkling Shiraz at the end of the meal just because its fun for the holiday season.
While sparkling wine visually inspires a reason for celebration, the sound bite of popping Champagne corks reminds us of winning the big game or closing the big deal. This is all well and good if we plan to spray the contents over the heads of our colleagues. Otherwise it is best to open a bottle of sparkling wine with a slight sigh instead of a loud pop. Doing so keeps those lovely little bubbles in solution for our drinking enjoyment. When opening a bottle, keep your thumb on the top of the cork and cage so you are in control of the cork at all times. Then, grasp the cork and cage in one hand and turn the bottle (not the cork) until you feel the pressure push the cork out. Resist letting the cork pop out quickly by applying pressure on the cork so you are in control of the release.
Ranging from $12 to $50, there’s a bottle of bubbly within everyone’s budget. So grab a flute and pop the cork on a bottle and enjoy…just because!