1. Food

Video:How to Serve Sparkling Wine and Champagne

with Jonathon Stewart

Whether you're celebrating or simply enjoying a good bottle of wine, here are the basics you should know about opening and pouring sparkling wine and Champagne.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Serve Sparkling Wine and Champagne

Hi, I'm Jonathon Stewart for About.com Food, and today, it's all about opening and pouring sparkling wine.

Now, everybody knows that when it's time to celebrate, it's time to drink champagne. Weddings, births, New Year's Eve, Friday... But if you're the one who's doing the serving, here are a couple pointers to help you out.

What is Champagne?

First, a pretty common question: Champagne, sparkling wine – what's the big difference?

Well, Champagne, which is actually type of sparkling wine, refers specifically to a region of France and the wine-making process developed there called Méthode Champenoise. As the saying goes, "Champagne isn't Champagne unless it's made in Champagne."

Drink Sparkling Wine in a Flute

Flutes are the glasses in which sparkling wine is best served. They reduce the surface area of the wine, limiting its contact with the air and potential loss of bubbles.

Always hold a flute by its stem, so that your hands don't accidentally warm the wine (assuming it sits in your glass long enough to get warm anyway).

Open Sparkling Wine and Champagne

Probably the biggest misconception about sparkling wine and Champagne, other than the name confusion, is with regard to how it's opened.

Now, while shaking up bottles, popping corks off into the night, and spilling bubbly all over the bow of your yacht may seem like fun on TV, there's just one problem - it's a waste of good wine!

Chill the Sparkling Wine or Champagne

Start by making sure your sparkling wine is chilled to the right temperature by either putting it in the fridge for at least an hour and a half, or chilling it in a bucket with ice for about 30 minutes. Never put your wine in the freezer.

Remove the Cage From the Bottle

It might be a good idea to have a towel on hand if you're a newbie to opening sparkling wine. Make sure your glasses are out and ready for action, and we're all set to go.

Remove the foil from the cork so that the wire housing called the "cage" is entirely foil-free. Flip up the wire ring of the cage, and turn it exactly six half-turns counter-clockwise, which should free the cage from the neck of the bottle.

Cover the Cork With a Towel

Some people will actually tell you to remove the cage at this point, but it's actually much easier to control the cork (which is the goal) by leaving it on.

It's also not a bad idea to cover the cork with a towel at this stage, but if you open your bottle successfully, you won't even need one.

Ease the Cork Out of the Bottle

With your thumb still guarding the top of the cork, turn the neck to a 45 degree angle and hold the bottle at the base. Now, while firmly holding the caged cork in one hand, slowly twist the bottle from its base. Do not twist the cork.

Take your time with this. The goal is to ease the cork out slowly, without a pop, which connoisseurs consider gauche, and is also less likely to break a window across the room.

Continue slowly twisting the base in half turns until the cork is fully released from the neck of the bottle. You might hear a small "whoosh" on the final twist, and then you're ready to pour!

Pour the Sparkling Wine or Champagne

Aim to fill the first flute about halfway full so the bubbles don't overflow. Try as much as possible to pour down the side of the glass, which will result in a smaller head.

At the top of the pour, give a little turn of the wrist and you'll avoid spilling even one drop of the good stuff. All that's left is to sip and enjoy.

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