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A Sommelier's Secret:

It’s All About the Bubbles.

Once again it’s that time again, out with old in with the New Year. Among our preparations of what to do on the 31st is what Champagne to buy.

Personally, I prescribe to the philosophy of the late Madame Bollinger. “I drink it when I’m happy or when I’m sad… Otherwise I never touch the stuff, unless I’m thirsty.” In other words, it can be enjoyed anytime you normally would have a bottle of wine. To let you in on a Sommelier’s secret it’s the ultimate pairing or saving grace, depending on the situation.

Speaking of pairings, what goes with what? Seafood goes well with a crisp clean style of Champagne, unless you’re having a rich fish like salmon where a creamy all Chardonnay blanc de blanc will make your mouth water. More of a carnivore? Have a ros‚. The short maceration of the two red grapes, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, gives the wine a salmon like color, tannin and flavors of cherries and strawberries.

Dessert styles of Champagne are getting harder and harder to find, however, there are still some demi-sec on the market for those with a sweet tooth.

If you want to be completely decadent, drink it all night long. Start with something crisp for the initial toast, a ros‚ for the meal and a half bottle of demi-sec to enjoy with dessert.

Now which champagne house are you going to buy? The well known, big names usually have a good and consistent wine, but some of my favorites are from the smaller producers. Houses like Gaston Chiquet, Charles Ellner, Pierre Gimonnet, and Jacquesson offer truly comparative value for the money at equal to or better than some of the larger houses. Each one of these houses have a Champagne in the multi-vintage category will cost some where between 20 and 30 dollars.

Life may be short, but you can find delicious “cheap” Champagne. Happy Holidays.

December 9, 2002
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