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Sparkling Wine Serving Tips

It’s that sparkling time of year again.

Whether you are planning to drink Champagne, Prosecco, Crémant de Bourgogne, Franciacorta or any of the many bubbly wines that are available today in the U.S., here are a few tips on how to serve and enjoy the wine.

Stemware.

A few generations ago, it was popular to serve sparkling wine in a “coupe,” the kind of glass you only see now in old movies.

In the 80s and 90s, the flute took over as the vessel of choice. The idea was that the narrow aperture of the glass would concentrate the bubbles and aromas of the wine.

But today, more and more wine professionals and consumers are finding that the wines show better in white wine glasses with a wider aperture. Especially when you’re serving/drinking “toasty, yeasty” Champagne, the wider brim allows those aromas to open up as the wine aerates.

Prime your stemware.

In many homes across America, the holidays mark one of the few times each year that families break out their best stemware.

Often times, those glasses have been sitting in a china cabinet for a year and have collected some dust or might even still have some detergent residue from their last washing.

To “prime” your glasses, line them up in a row and pour a little bit of wine into the first glass. Roll the wine around the glass for a few seconds and then pour into the next glass. Repeat until you have primed all the glasses and then discard the rinse wine.

It’s important to do this with wine. There are two reasons for this. The acidity and alcohol in the wine will work more effectively to rinse the glass. And secondly, water, even just a few drops, can affect the taste of the wine.

The wasted wine? Think of it as a Roman libation, a sacrifice to the wine gods!

Pairing.

Avoid serving your sparkling wine with sweet food and sugary desserts. Nearly all sparkling wine is made with sugar. And sugar, whether grape or cane sugar, plays a major role in the aroma and the flavor of the wine. Sweet dishes and fruit will upset their balance and overwhelm their flavors.

In Venice, Prosecco is traditionally served with savory cicchetti, Venetian dialect for tapas, mostly seafood.

In Paris, Champagne is best served with salty dishes like caviar or freshly shucked oysters.

Savory dishes will always work best with sparkling wine, no matter how sweet the wine.

What a pity to serve an expensive bottle of Champagne only to have it eclipsed by chocolate cake!

Happy new year, everyone!

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2016.

Thanks for all your support in 2015.