Whether you’re clinking glasses at a festive reception or toasting with family over turkey dinner, there’s nothing quite like a glass of Champagne at Christmas!
Glamorous, festive and celebratory – here are some champagne tips to get the party started.
1. Champagne only comes from the Champagne region which is north east of France, or approximately 150 kilometers from Paris.
All five senses are approached when enjoying Champagne – colour, aroma, texture, flavour and sound.
When you are tasting and comparing several Champagnes, it is best to serve them in the same type of glass and at the same temperature.
When pouring, fill the glass two-thirds full — this allows space for the aromas to circulate. Once the Champagne has been poured, allow some time for it to open up, revealing its complexities and richness of its bouquet.
To prevent loss of bubbles, Champagne should be poured down the side, rather than straight into the glass.
Avoid wearing lipstick or perfume; they can mask the aromas.
Lastly, when is the best time of the date to taste Champagne?
11 am – yes in the morning.
This is when your senses are at their peak!
3. Flute, Coupe or Tulip?
Stemware is a personal preference.
The flute works better for young Champagnes served at the proper temperature. If you can, avoid the coupe; it might look sexy and sophisticated, but does nothing for the wine. If you are serving a “tête de cuvee” or super-premium Champagne, my suggestion is to use the tulip — they are tall and large enough to allow the aromas to develop while maintaining elegance and depth.
Note — the tulip is used by winemakers for their daily tasting, as well as ISOs.
The ideal serving temperature is between 8° and 10° C.
Cuvees of high quality and good maturity will be more appreciated at 12° C.
The proper way to chill Champagne is to put the bottle in a bucket of ice water for about 30 minutes.
Not all champagne tastes the same, and certain varieties will suit certain foods.
Lighter styles like brut will make a delicious pre-dinner aperitif, and pair beautifully with seafood. Or, try a serving a Blanc de Blancs champagne (100% chardonnay) with smoked salmon canapés.
If you’re looking for a Champagne for your Christmas dinner, then a rich, toasty vintage cuvée is the way to go; my second choice would be a rose Champagne they both pair remarkably well with holiday dishes from turkey to cranberry sauce to stuffing, so it can be enjoyed throughout the meal.
6. Holiday Trends
The sheer diversity of champagne that we have on the shelves has never been stronger.
What we should look out for this holiday season is rose and vintage Champagne.
Vintage champagne are not that much more expensive than non-vintage, but they are much smaller in their production and usually finer in quality.
The 2008 vintage which is increasingly on the shelves at the moment, was the best that they’ve had in decades so look for ’08 as a particularly special “Christmas surprise”.
Rose Champagnes sales have increased over the past few years and are still on the rise. Rose is one of the most versatile styles and pair well with Italian food, Asian cuisine like Thai, Chinese and Japanese, and barbecue.
Champagne Tips and Trends for the Holiday Season — Liz Palmer
Award Winning Author and Wine Journalist
Liz Palmer is a well-respected wine journalist since 2004 and has an international reputation as a critic and judge. Liz has had the pleasure of interviewing and tasting with some of the industry’s leading winemakers, professors and personalities.
Liz Palmer’s articles have appeared in national and international magazines. She is one of four founding international hosts for #ChampagneDay 2011-2017; she has served as a judge for the 2013-2017 Global Traveler's Wines on the Wing airline wine competition (New York); 2014-2017 Michelangelo International Wine Awards (South Africa) 2014-2017; and for The Stevie Awards for Women in Business (New York) (2014-2017).
Her Memberships include: Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada, Circle of Wine Writers (UK), International Federation of Wine and Spirits Journalists and Writers (FIJEV); Wine Century Club (NYC), The Fine Wine Reserve, and Les Dames d’Escoffier (President – Toronto Chapter).
Liz Palmer’s first book, “The Ultimate Guide To Champagne” has received the National Award for the best French Wine Book at the Gourmand World Awards 2017. On April 7th, 2017 she was awarded the title of “Dame Chevalier” of the Ordre de Coteaux de Champagne at an official ceremony in Paris.
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Liz Palmer Champagne and Cognac Expert- International Wine and Travel Journalist