Know Your Champagne Before New Year's Eve: An Expert Gives Us the Low-Down on Bubbly
Oh champagne -- just saying it makes us feel fancier already. While bubbly is always a requisite for celebrating the life fantastique, it's the last two weeks of the year that are the most popular for this golden elixir. You might be familiar with names like Dom, Krug, Bollinger, Veuve, and Cristal, but that doesn't mean you really know about the drink.
For instance: although there are plenty of bubbly blancs, a beverage can only be called "champagne." if it originates from the Champagne region of France. Prosecco is from Italy. Cava is from Spain. To learn more before popping the cork on NYE, Short Order reached out to Jamie Futscher, a wine buyer and champagne aficionado at South Miami's Sunset Corners, to share her wisdom.
Click through for a champagne Q&A:
New Times: What do you think is the biggest misconception about champagne?
Jamie Futscher: People's tendency to reserve it for holidays and celebrations when in fact champagne pairs exceedingly well with a variety of foods. We all should celebrate life a little more and pop out the bubbly on a regular occasion. My favorite quote is from Madame Lilly Bollinger: "I drink champagne when I'm happy and when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it -- unless I'm thirsty."
For those of us buying bottles for NYE, how much should we plan to buy?
It depends on how long the party is and what else you will be offering -- general consumption is about 1 drink per person per hour. So if your soiree is from 8 p.m. until after midnight, you may need more than you think. Also figure that if you are doing a champagne toast you may need a little extra for that as well, since even those imbibing in something else will need a glass of bubbly to ring in the New Year! Just remember: A (regular-sized) champagne bottle will fill seven champagne flutes.
How should we store it before chilling?
Put it in the fridge the day before. Be careful about chilling down too quickly, and if you must, then be careful when opening and always point the bottle away from yourself. There is 2-3 times more pressure in a bottle of champagne, and upon opening the cork can pop out at speeds from 40-100 miles per hour.
How many kinds of champagne do you carry at Sunset Corners?
We carry about 150 different champagnes and about 250 if you include other "sparkling wines" from around the world.
What's the most expensive bottle in your shop?
Some of the most expensive bottles come from the house of Krug Champagne. We recently sold their 1998 Clos du Mesnil (from a less than two-hectare vineyard and made from 100 percent chardonnay) for $800 per bottle and their even rarer 1995 Clos d'Ambonnay (100 percent Pinot Noir and one-third the size of Clos du Mesnil) for $2,500 per bottle. Here in the store, our most expensive bottles in stock are Laurent Perrier Cuvee Alexandra Rose, on sale for $299.99, or 2004 Louis Roederer Cristal Brut on sale for $195.00. My favorite premium champagne is Jacques Selosse Brut Initial Blanc de Blanc for $169.99.
The good news is that you don't have to break the bank to enjoy some sips. As Jamie let us know Sunset Corners currently have the lowest price in the country for Tattinger ($32.99). What happens if you have leftover champagne? It makes perfect mimosas and bellinis.
But you'll want to store it properly, Jamie says: "Champagne stoppers are the way to go. They keep the bubbles fresh." And as for the day after drinks, this expert prefers an Aperol Spritz.
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