Champagne 101




How well do you know your champagnes? For many of us, we pick up a bottle only a few times a year. If you're in the market this week, here are some pointers to consider.

Dry or Sweet???

Champagne or sparkling wine is classified according to its sweetness. From driest to sweetest, here's how it goes: Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Sec, Demi-Sec, Doux

When you see the word "cuvee" on the label, it means "blend." Most champagnes are a blend of grapes - traditionally they are chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier.

The Colder the Better

Wine aficionados agree that champagne should be served ice cold. The chill keeps the bubbles in tact while dampening their impact on the palate. To get the bottle really cold, place it in an ice and water bath up to the neck for 30 minutes before serving.

Ditch the Fluted Glass

Forget the fluted glasss and pour your favorite bubbly into a good old fashioned white wine glass with a wide mouth. They're perfect for swirling and sniffing.

Sparkling wines' effervescence and acidity help stimulate the appetite making them perfect sipping wines to serve with appetizers. They are traditionally paired with such luxurious foods as oysters, caviar and foie gras. But they also pair really nicely with more casual fare such as salty, deep-fried snacks.