Pink Fire Pointer January 2014

Champagne or Sparkling Wine?
                  Many people don't realize it, but there is a difference between sparkling wine and real champagne. Champagne is only champagne if it comes from a certain area of France and it actually says "Champagne" on the label. Beside the fact that Champagne is only made in France, there are other strict guidelines to how Champagne is made. Unlike most wines, champagne goes through a secondary fermentation process which is done in the bottle. That's what causes natural carbon dioxide gas to get caught inside. This trapped co2 is what causes the bubbles. Sparkling wines do not go through a secondary fermentation process. Sparkling wine is made from regular wine with co2 injections. This is done the same way as when they make coke or any other type of soda. But does sparkling wine taste the same as champagne? The answer to this is that they may taste close, but the real difference can be told with a taste test. Champagne is bubblier and a bit lighter and sparkling wines will always carry a taste from the region they are from. Most people tend to prefer the real champagne. The best way to chill champagne is not in the freezer, but rather in the refrigerator for not more than a couple of days. Better yet, 30 minutes before you are ready to drink the champagne, put it in a champagne cooler that is filled with equal parts ice and water and chill. When you are ready to open the bottle, make sure that it is always pointed away from yourself and anyone else. To be on the safe side, keep your thumb on top of the cork and with your other hand separate the wire from the bottle. Hold the cork and top part of the bottle firmly in your hand while holding the bottom of the bottle with your other hand. Slowly turn the bottom of the bottle. You do not want the cork to pop, but in case it does and champagne comes pouring out of the bottle do not turn the bottle upright, but rather at an angle which will stop the flow of champagne. So how do you know what to look for when choosing your champagne? Assess the bubbles. How many are there, how big are they and how fine are the beads? A young champagne will have lots of bubbles where as an older champagne will have less bubbles. Vintage champagne is any champagne that has a date on the label. It means all the grapes were picked in that same year. Non vintage champagne is a mix of various years and a mix of different kinds of grapes. Labels can tell you more than whether the champagne is a vintage or not. You can also tell how dry the champagne is. For example, "Brut" is the driest of champagnes with almost no residual sugars. Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry and Dry are the four different levels of dryness you can get. It can be misleading because by the time you get to "Dry" you are actually drinking champagne which is more on the sweet side. What type of glass should you use to drink champagne from? It all depends on how many bubbles you want your champagne to have. Narrower glasses or flutes keep the bubbles in the best. If you were to pour champagne from a flute to a martini glass, you would see almost of all the bubbles disappear. But this does not mean your champagne has gone flat. Pour it back into the flute and the bubbles will come back.

Champagne Flutes for Your Use
                    Champagne, that popular, sparkling wine known the world over, is one of the most salable drinks. Chardonnay, the white wine, is a good companion to white meat like fish and chicken, and burgundy, the red wine goes well with red meat like pork and beef. Champagne is produced through secondary fermentation and carbonation. Grapes are used to produce wine and the process usually takes years. The older the wine is, the better it is supposed to taste and the higher the price it commands. In champagne and wine, older is better. Champagne is served in glasses called champagne flutes. Serving champagne on regular glasses takes away some of the appeal of the experience of drinking champagne. Champagne, after all, is a classy drink and it does not look good at all if you serve champagne on drinking glasses, margarita glasses or plastic tumblers. Although there are plastic substitutes, glasses are still preferred by most people. Why Use Champagne Flutes It is a widely accepted standard that champagne must be served in tall, narrow and tulip shaped flutes, although there are champagne saucers and wine glasses. The narrow opening of the flute traps and concentrates the aromas; this is why you constantly see wine and champagne connoisseurs sniffing the champagne before taking a sip. The shape of individual flutes has a purpose. They are shaped that way to help preserve the chill of the wine. It also helps showcase the bubbles of the champagne more effectively than other glasses and it prevents the champagne from losing its effervescence. It is designed for functionality. There are also people who collect hard to find champagne flutes. They are also collectibles like pink depression glass. Other Uses of Champagne Glasses Champagne flutes are not just for drinking champagne, it is also used for serving desserts. Champagne coupes or bowl-shaped champagne glasses are used for serving ice creams, gelatin, and fruits with cream. It can also be used for mousse and pudding with iced teaspoons. Wedding champagne Flutes Not only are these glasses used for drinking champagne, they are also very important when it comes to weddings. As you may have noticed already, there is a point in the wedding reception where the attention of everyone present is called and the father of the bride, a close friend of the couple's or the best man make the wedding toast to the cheers of all present. The wedding champagne flutes take center stage during this ceremony. There are various styles of of these kinds of glasses. There are flutes, which come in the traditional shape, and others shaped like a trumpet. These flutes can also be personalized for a more romantic effect. There are several companies online which are willing to personalize flutes according to a customer's specifications for an additional fee. Taking Care of Champagne Flutes Champagne flutes, especially the crystal ones can be very expensive, most of the time depending on the brand, so it is only right to take care of them. Buying champagne flutes and having them break is money going down the drain. I am quite sure most people would not want this. As mentioned earlier, these are generally known as stemware, cost a lot of money so they should be used as often as you can, to get the best bang for your buck. They should be found held in the hands of guests while enjoying conversations and reminiscing memories rather than on the display cabinet, sitting and accumulating dust, unless of course they are unique, hard to find collectors that you cannot risk them being broken or chipped. Most flutes can be washed through the dishwasher but hand washing would also be a good option. Wash the flutes in warm, soapy water and wipe dry with a free lint cloth and store in champagne glass chests or stemware racks. It is recommended that they be stored in a cupboard with a glass cover to prevent them from getting dusty. To safeguard the flutes, avoid exposure to rapid changes in temperature. This includes putting the flute straight to the freezer after taking them out of the hot dishwasher. This will cause the glass to beak, chip and crack.

Types of Champagne
                    Champagne is a type of sparkling wine, which has derived from the Champagne region in France. Only sparkling wine made in this region is legally allowed to be called Champagne due to the fact that France holds strict rules on the way that it is made. To make true Champagne, a special process known as 'méthod champenoise' is used which is the traditional French method for creating bubbles in the wine. Even if this process is used in other parts of the world, their produce should still be referred to as sparkling wine rather than champagne. There are several different types of champagne and they can be categorised in many different ways however there are six basic types. Brut is the driest of all the champagnes and is theoretically never sweetened. Top brands such as Moet et Chandon and Bollinger all have their own varieties of Brut champagne and this is probably the champagne you are used to drinking as it is the most popular type. This is also the most widely used champagne gift and is often given to celebrate important occasions such as a wedding or special birthday. Extra Dry champagne is the next one up on the scale of sweetness. This type of champagne is slightly sweeter than Brut and therefore not as dry. Sec champagne is classified as slightly sweet champagne and is made using grapes from different vines. Demi-Sec is slightly sweeter than Sec and the sweetest champagne available is known as Doux champagne. This type is not as popular and therefore may be harder to find. In more recent years, the popularity of rosé champagne has significantly increased due to its sweet and fruity taste. Rosé champagne is made using grapes from pinot noir or chardonnay grapes. Some champagne producers will simply add a touch of pinot noir to the champagne in order to give it the taste and body required. All of these types can also be classified under two headings, Vintage and Non-vintage. Vintage champagne is produced using a grapes harvested from one single year when the producer feels the grapes are particularly good. The Vintage champagne must be created using at least 80% of the years harvested grapes and must be aged for three years before being released. This can make the champagne very expensive if it was produced many years ago. Non-vintage champagne is far more widely available as it is created using grapes harvested from a number of different years. Champagne is often used to celebrate or mark a special occasion. It also makes a brilliant gift for someone who is celebrating something. Champagne gifts come in a number of different varieties from boxed champagne to champagne hampers. Personalised champagne is also a great way to add that special touch through a personalised message bottle label.

Champagne Food Makes a Great Impression
                 The holidays are a great time to entertain, they provide us with an opportunity to gather with friends and family and catch up with the events that occurred since last the last time you got together. Of course, no family get-together or holiday party would be complete without food. There are endless lists of food that we can offer a party. When having a truly special occasion it is important that you provide a little class and style, a great way to do this is to serve your guests champagne food. The Impression you make when throwing a party is often directly connected to what you feed your guests. Even with holiday parties and family get-togethers, the quickest way to someone's heart is through the stomach. Consequently, what you serve at a party is important. Champagne food allows you to pull out all the stops and create a huge impression for your family and friends. Nothing says class and sophistication like champagne. There is something truly unique and special about this bubbly concoction. Real traditional French champagne is a recognized as the drink for special occasions. Champagne has been served at some of the finest events in the world, such as presidential inaugurations and Royal balls. Champagne is good enough for presidents and royalty and certainly is good enough for your most discriminating guest. While Champagne stands out great by itself is even better when accented with the right food. Champagne food is equally as sophisticated and elegant as champagne itself. When grouping food with Champagne it is important that you accent the taste and the quality of the champagne. One simple way to accent champagne is to serve a tray of assorted cheeses. Due to the many different styles and varieties of cheeses there is something that will match everyone's taste. For the sophisticated palate there is Roquefort. And for the more down-to-earth taste there is a good mild cheddar or Swiss. Of course, you will want to group the class of champagne with the class of cheese. Champagne is grouped into different categories, and the food that should be eaten with these categories should be equally classed with the characteristics of your type of champagne. Keep in mind that you do not want to overpower the champagne with the food, but rather accent its qualities. In many cases champagne food should be sweet, such as chocolates and other fun desserts. When grouping chocolate and champagne it is a good idea to buy champagne that is considered relatively sweet. Another great food for champagne is breakfast. Such dishes as eggs and French toast go well with sweet champagnes while fresh fruit goes well with medium or dried champagne. One popular way to drink champagne with breakfast is to serve the champagne as a cocktail. This popular drinking is known as a mimosa. This cocktail is simple to make and consists of equal parts of champagne and orange juice. Of course, you can vary this combination to cater to your guests personal taste. To create a truly great impression at a formal dinner gathering champagne food is unequalled. In order to make a great impression at a formal dinner function serve champagne and fresh seafood such as oysters and other shellfish plus gentle whitefish. Champagne is also well-suited to delicate cuts of meat. When Serving poultry very light champagnes is favoured. No matter the occasion there is champagne food that will provide a great impression with all your guests.

Champagne Brands - How to Choose Between Them
                   Champagne is a wonderful drink that (literally) brings a sparkle to any special occasion, yet when it comes to choosing one brand or another most people don't know where to start, so here's a quick guide to what makes all champagne brands different that will help you discover all sorts of new possibilities. When they buy champagne people tend to do one of three things: · Stick with a brand that they have tried and liked before. · Try someone's else's recommendation · Buy what's on the wine list in front of them If you always drink the same brand you will probably never be disappointed, but you might well get a bit bored of the same old thing. If you try what someone else suggests you may, or may not, be pleasantly surprised but don't forget that we all have different tastes so a champagne brand that another person thinks is the most wonderful thing they've ever tasted may just not be your cup of tea. Unfortunately when you take whatever is on the wine list you're letting someone else make the choice for you. That's the way a lot of the big brands get to be big. They are distributed everywhere and so, in the absence of a deliberate choice by a consumer, they get to sell an awful lot of bottles. There is another way and all it takes is to learn a few of the basics about champagne. Here's the first one - ask what grapes the champagne is made from. Sounds very basic doesn't it. After all, when you buy a bottle of wine you'd usually want to know which grape varietal was used, wouldn't you? Well you can and should do the same with champagne. Champagne is made from three types of grape: a white grape - Chardonnay and two black grapes - Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier (actually there are others but let's not over-complicate things. If you know these three that will cover 99% of all champagne that is made.) If you're wondering how you can make white champagne from black grapes don't forget that when the grape is pressed, the juice is always colourless, even if the grape skin is black. As a wine drinker you'll know that different grape varieties have different characteristics and produce wine with different tastes and flavours; champagne is no exception. A champagne maker can blend the three grapes in whatever proportions he/she wants just so long as they get the final taste they are looking for. Consequently the combinations that are possible are virtually infinite and it's this blending of the three different grapes that is one of the key things that makes one champagne brand different from another. Chardonnay brings flavours and aromas that are often described as being floral, or like citrus fruit. When wine writers talk of elegance, freshness and finesse, more often than not they are talking about Chardonnay. Another way of describing Chardonnay which I find helpful is to use an analogy from music and to say that Chardonnay provides the ' Treble' notes. Chardonnay-based champagnes then tend to be light, refreshing, clean and often quite dry. They are great as an aperitif and with delicate food such as sushi and shellfish. Pinot Noir on the other hand brings fullness, power and body to the champagne. Typical aromas associated with Pinot Noir are red fruits such as strawberries and blackcurrants. Champagnes with a high proportion of Pinot Noir are a good match with full-flavoured food. If we use the same musical analogy as above, Pinot Noir provides the ' Bass ' notes in the composition. The third grape variety permitted in champagne is Pinot Meunier and whilst the other two are well-known outside the Champagne region, Pinot Meunier is almost unheard of elsewhere. Used in a champagne Pinot Meunier can bring intense fruitiness with aromas of white-fleshed fruit such as apples or pears. It's easy to drink and difficult to dislike. So before you buy your next bottle of champagne ask the retailer, or waiter, what the blend of grapes is and that will give you a good indication of the style. If you really want to impress then ask to know what the 'assemblage' is ( pronounced assomblarge). That's the French word for blend.