How to Drink Champagne

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Holiday parties are awash with champagne though most of us are unaware of proper champagne drinking etiquette. Despite all those movie scenes where the leading man pops the top off and releases gusher of champagne, you should not be wearing more than you have drank by the end of the night. To get on track ahead of the holiday season, here are a few tips on the correct way to open and drink champagne.

  1. Start with a quality bottle or two. Ask your local wine shop for recommendations and choose based on your preferences.
  2. Don’t over chill. Too cold champagne will not be able to release its aromas and flavor. Instaed champagne should be chilled but just slightly. Rather than sticking in the freezer, drop it into a bucket of half part ice, half part water for about 20 minutes or place on a lower shelf in the refrigerator for about an hour. Aim for around 48F for a younger champagne and 50F for a vintage bottle.
  3. When popping the cork, loosen the wire cage and with it still one, place your hand over the cork and twist the bottle. Do not try to twist out the cork, it should come out easily. An aged wine will show a narrow cork while a younger, livelier champagne will have a cork that splays out.
  4. Forget the champagne flutes – they are too narrow to allow the wine to breathe. Instead go for a regular white wine glass and pour about half full. Give the liquid a few moments to aerate, then smell the bouquet. A great champagne will have hints of fruits or flowers and richer, deeper notes of vanilla or spices. What can you detect? Try a sip or two and savor it to suss out the composition of the champagne. Is it full bodied and complex? Or delicate and smooth?