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Champagne 101: How To Drink It Like A Pro

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Champagne season is officially here. From now through the new year, you’ll likely be popping a few corks and spilling bubbly all over your carpet.

If you have been really nice (or really naughty) you might be lucky enough to spill some Krug. The LVMH-owned champagne from Reims, France, is regarded by many – including a few friends who work at competing liquor companies – to be the best champagne in the world. With that big a reputation comes a steep price, a bottle of Krug Grande Cuvée costs around $145.

When you’re spending that kind of dough on a bottle, you want to make sure you are serving it right. But with champagne, most of us are doing it wrong. Luckily, the United States Director of Krug, Carl Heline, met up with me at The Fat Radish in New York to share advice on how to drink champagne like a professional. Here are the essential tips:

 

1) Safety first:

After you rip off the foil, keep the cage (the small wire thing) on the cork – even after you untwist the wire. Once you loosen the cage, make sure you keep one hand over the cork so it won’t accidentally pop off.

 

2) Spin the bottle:

Don’t twist the cork. Instead take a tight grip of the cork (cage loosened, but still on) and twist the base of the bottle, this gives you a much better hold, until you slowly remove the cork. Heline adds that there’s no shame in popping corks; after all champagne is about fun – just don’t aim at someone’s head.

 

3) Chill out, just not too much:

The ideal temperate to serve champagne is 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10ºC). Most of our refrigerators run at about 45 degrees (7ºC), so once you open a bottle, let it sit out in the open. Don’t drown it in a bucket of ice, the freezing temperatures lock up flavors.

4) Grip and rip:

Grip your hand around the base of the bottle – if your hands are too small you can press your thumb on the indent on the bottom – for good balance and tilt the glass at a 45-degree angle to pour the wine along the side of the glass, this reduces the foam.

 

5) Say no to flutes:

Most places serve champagne in flutes – the glasses have cache and show off the bubbles well. The trouble is flutes are terrible for tasting the wine, the shape prevents enough oxygen from getting into the glass to open up the champagne and blocks the aromas from reaching your nose, which in turn limits the flavor. Heline uses glasses custom made for Krug. If you can’t find those, a simple white wine glass will do the trick.

 

6) Sniff and sip:

Don’t be afraid to bury your nose in the glass before your first sip, so much of our taste comes from smell. Have a taste and note the flavor. After that gently swirl your glass on the table and taste again, noting the subtle flavors the swirling has released.

 

7) Don’t over-think it:

Champagne is meant for celebrations, so relax and have a blast.

 

Champagne Facts:
The longest recorded flight of a champagne cork is over 54 meters.
There are approximately 49 million bubbles in a standard sized bottle of champagne.
Florescent light changes the flavour of champagne.
“Dosage” is a measured quantity of sugar, wine and sometimes brandy added in the final step of champagne production, before bottling.

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