With St Valentine’s Day soon upon us, no doubt many of you love-struck couples will be reaching for the Champagne or Prosecco to accompany that special meal and help your wooing along with an added touch of class and elegance.
Before making that impulse purchase there is a whole etiquette to sparkling wine and in particular Champagne serving to consider which is often overlooked, even in the service industry. A fine sparkling wine is a delicate drink to befit the care and balance in the way it is served.
First and foremost, store your wine laid flat in a cool and dry place before chilling. Continued contact with the bottle’s cork will stop it drying out and shrinking, allowing air to enter the wine and spoil it. Heat exposure will interfere with the taste and carbonation of the wine, continued heat exposure will ruin it completely. A storage temperature between 7°c and 13°c is recommended. Do not chill your wine until a few hours before serving, storing sparkling wine in a fridge for a prolonged period will sap the flavour. Obviously not everyone has the luxury of a wine cellar, but at the very least a Wine Rack is the best way to store your wine (as long as your wine racks not in the airing cupboard!).
Allow your wine plenty of time to chill before serving. It doesn’t need to be served freezing cold; a serving temperature of between 5°c and 7°c is perfect. A regular bottle of Champagne should be consumed within 2 years of purchase. A Vintage Champagne has a slightly longer lifespan at 3-5 years, never store a bottle of Champagne for more than 10 years; it will be no good by that time!
Your glassware is very important and is dependent on the variety of wine you are serving. A common wine glass is not designed to hold a sparkling wine and keep it carbonated. Champagne Flutes and Champagne Saucers (or Coupes) feature designs and nucleation techniques to allow the carbonation process to continue long after the wine is served.
Champagne glasses should be spotlessly clean before serving, smears and residue will affect the wine’s carbonation process and lead to flat wine. Clean each glass thoroughly before use and wipe dry with a clean towel. To help maintain the temperature of the wine once it’s served, you can store your glasses in a refrigerator to keep them chilled.
Flute or Coupe?
A lot of the time the choice of a Flute or Coupe is a personal one. Champagne Coupes were once regarded as the fashionable way to serve sparkling wine back in the early-mid 1900s this trend has become more and more popular over the years, especially for venues serving Champagne Fountains. There is a science behind the shape of your glass; Coupes have a larger surface area which effects the aeration of the wine and are better suited to sweeter wines and Champagnes that will maintain their body when exposed to air.
1: Arcoroc Cabernet Coupe Glass 300ml
2: LSA Wine Collection Champagne Saucer 300ml
3: Dartington Glitz Champagne Saucer 300ml
4: Urban Bar Retro Engraved Champagne Coupe 220ml
5: LSA Savoy Champagne Saucer 250ml
Champagne Flutes on the other hand are shaped to maintain the flavour of the wine while maximising the carbonation. The Flute is designed to be held by the stem to stop your hand cupping the bowl and warming the contents. Flutes are perfectly suited to strong flavoured vintage wines and Champagnes which are better appreciated with the minimum of aeration.
1: Arcoroc Grands Cepages Champagne Flute 240ml
2: Durobor Royal Champagne Flute 160ml
3: Riedel Vinum Cuvee Prestige Champagne Flute 230ml
4: Vera Wang Love Knot Champagne Flutes 120ml
5: Waterford Crystal Siren Champagne Flute 180ml
6: Royal Doulton Celebration Champagne Flute 160ml
7: Arc Domino Champagne Flute 170ml
8: LSA Yana Champagne Flute 160ml
Keeping it Cool
Keeping your wine refrigerated while it’s open is a great way of keeping your bubbly cool but it’s a little impractical when you are dining or entertaining as you’ll find yourself backwards and forwards to the fridge all too regularly. Thank heavens for Champagne buckets! Champagne buckets, as the name might suggest, are specifically designed to chill Champagne (and other Sparkling wines too!), they are larger than normal wine buckets to allow more ice, keeping your wine cooler for longer. Although considered a luxury item, there’s no substitute, you can serve your champagne from a mop bucket but be prepared for a lonely Valentine’s night!
1: LSA Bar Glass Champagne Bucket
2: Hammered Effect Stainless Steel Champagne Bucket
3: Pulltex Acrylic Champagne Bucket Blue
4: Bar@drinkstuff Stainless Steel Champagne Bucket
5: Elia Straight Wine Cooler
Champagne, Cava, Prosecco or Asti?
When deciding on a sparkling wine or Champagne; choose your wine carefully, stronger tasting wines are best as palate cleansers and aperitifs or digestifs . The lighter wines are perfectly suited to accompany flavoured dishes and some sparkling wines are best suited as an accompaniment to desserts. Read the wine label, and if you’re lucky enough to have a local wine shop that allows tasting of sparkling wines and Champagnes; try before you buy.