Saturday, November 29, 2008

Après Champagne and Turkey

Ah, the day after Turkey Day.  Weighted down by insane portions of stuffing and corn casserole and bread pudding and apple squares and pumpkin pie....all so wonderful in the moment.  Yet, this morning, my body was a bit angry with me for participating in this yearly food marathon.  I didn't want to offend the hostess, my sister, who worked so hard on the meal.  So, eat we all did.  

This year was a bit different however.  It was the first time that all the 'cousins', my daughters and my nieces were able to participate in the obligatory champagne drinking.  Six extra champagne flutes all waiting to be filled throughout a six hour get together.  That accelerated the consumption and contributed to going through a whole case of the bubbly.  Today, some of us are feeling better about all that drinking than others.  One of my daughters and I decided to just continue the celebration.  As we made our way through the crowd of humanity on Michigan Avenue this afternoon, we decided midway through our errands to sit at our favorite little champagne bar, Pops For Champagne and just keep drinking.  After all, it is the holidays--all holly jolly and such.  As we sipped away I thought Champagne would be something good to post about what with all the celebrations you might be celebrating over the next month or so. No serious details here--just some fun, helpful information that you may or may not know. 
Champagne is the only wine that leaves a woman with her beauty.
-Madame de Pompadour

Yes, Champagne is a wine albeit a sparkly one that initially was thought to be inferior as man struggled to make a still wine.  A Benedictine monk, Dom Pérignon, living at the Abby of Hautvilliers, has been credited with perfecting the machinations required to increase the bubbles and make a great tasting Champagne wine.  One cannot give him all the credit as this drink of the gods has a history as far back as Roman times.  While there are 'sparkling wines' made throughout the world, two elements work together that allow bubbly wine to be called Champagne:
  1.  It must be made in the region of Champagne, located on a mere 85 hectares of land    about 90 kilometers outside of Paris, near the Belgian border and
  2.  All Champagnes are a blend of separate wines made with three types of grapes;  Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, the pinots both being red grapes.
Some fun facts to know and impress your friends with: 
  • The word Champagne comes from the Latin word campagnia, referring to the countryside north of Rome.  
  • If you are watching your figure this holiday, a 5 ounce glass has about 104 calories.  I'd pass on the cookies. 
  • Silence is golden.  A loud POP on opening wastes bubbles and is not the way to go.  The cork should be eased out of the bottle and according to a Frenchman in the know, a Champagne bottle correctly opened should, 'make no sound greater than that of a contented woman's sigh'. He didn't mention which woman.  Lots of ways to go with on that one, indeed!
  • While the verdict is still out on having a different shaped glass for the vast array of wines out there, Champagne should be drunk out of a flute.  The reason being:  the carbon dioxide rubs against the side of the glass with the resulting friction causing the gas to burst into bubbles.  The increased pressure at the base of the flute encourages long thin trails of tiny bead like bubbles to float to the top. 
  • The tinier the bubbles the better the Champagne.  You do not want to see soda sized bubbles going up your glass.   
  • Do NOT use a coupe (those saucer shaped glasses you might see at weddings) to drink your Champagne from.  Legend has it that this type of glass was invented in a porcelain version by Marie Antoinette who used her left breast (closer to her heart) as a mold to drink her champagne from.  Terrible for the bubbles.  
  • To assess whether the vintage you are giving or receiving is worthy outstanding vintage years for Champagne were 1982, 1988, 1990 and 1996.  Very good years were 1985, 1989, 1995, 1998, 1999 and 2002.  
Here are some brands that would be considered the superstars in the Champagne world that you might splurge on for special events or the upcoming holidays.
  1. Bollinger
  2. Krug
  3. Moët & Chandon
  4. Mumm
  5. Piper-Heidsieck
  6. Taittinger
  7. Veuve Clicquot

Finally, as I look forward to Christmas when the same family that was together for Thanksgiving regroups with the addition of east and west coast relatives to celebrate the arrival of Santa and sit around in warm holiday pajamas watching White Christmas for the ump-teenth time (we can recite whole scenes from memory), I need to really plan how many bottles of the yummy stuff to have on hand.  Since we went through a case yesterday, I'm thinking lots.  Here's a breakdown of bottle sizes to fit all needs:
  • Split=about one and a half glasses.  Hardly suitable for much of anything. 
  • Half-bottle=two and a half glasses.  A bit better.
  • Bottle=about five glasses.  
  • Magnum=2 bottles or about 10 glasses
  • Jeroboam=4 bottles or about 20 glasses 
  • Methuselah=8 bottles or about 40 glasses
  • Salmanazar=12 bottles or about 60 glasses
  • Balthazar=16 bottles or about 80 glasses
  • Nebuchadnezzar=20 bottles or about 100 glasses. Ooh La La!
Not sure how I am going to get that great big ol' Nebuchadnezzar home with me.  Maybe Santa will put it under our tree.  

Additional information:  The Wine Bible 

Photo credit:  .hi3photo@flickr, tanakowho@flickr, wikipedia

1 comment:

Phivos Nicolaides said...

I can understand how much you like wine Kim! Cheers my dear :)