Sparkling etiquette

Article By: Bryony Whitehead

Champagne, sparkling wine, Methode Cap Classique, whatever your preference, drinking bubbly is associated with good times and celebration, and since it’s nearing that time of the year when we dust the fluted glasses off, and put on our party hats, it’s worth going over those finer details for quaffing a glass or two of sparkling.

What to choose?

With the large choice of sparkling wines lined up on the retail shelves these days, the natural thing for anyone to do is to stick to what you know. And while it’s certainly good to have favourites, there are a few great local sparkling wines worth popping the cork over. Look out for names like Krone, Simonsig and Pongraz Bruts to name only a few. These three are usually well-priced and are all fantastic wines.

Know your MCCs

While these names may be slightly more expensive, consider that you are paying for a genuine sparkling wine. This means the wines go through a long process requiring two fermentations and ageing to ensure the wine not only bubbles, but is also crystal clear. Developed in Champagne, France, in the 18th Century, this method is known as Methode Cap Classique or MCC in South Africa. Alternatives to MCC or Champagne are artificially carbonated.

Ice cold

Once you’ve chosen your wine, slip it into the fridge overnight to ensure that it’s well-chilled and ready to enjoy. If you want to drink it on the same day, try popping it into the freezer for an hour or so. Mind you, don’t forget it there, as freezing the bubbly can ruin it.

Open with care

Unless you are as ecstatic as Michael Schumacher after winning a Formula 1 race, don’t shake the bottle. Or pop the cork. Opening a bottle of sparkling is similar to arriving at a party: do it gracefully. Ease the cork out of the bottle and try to avoid the loud pop. You should hear a hiss as the cork is worked out of the bottle. This is so that you keep all those pretty little bubbles inside the wine for you to enjoy, rather than forcing them out all in one go. Of course, that’s only if you’re aiming to quaff at a specially chosen bottle or two.

Do go ahead and pop the cork if you’re into the effect it has on a good party.

Pouring

The next important step in sparkling wine etiquette is how to get sparkling wine into a glass. A lot trickier than it seems. Three clever tips to pouring a perfect glass of bubbly every time are these:

Easy does it. Pour a smidgen of the wine into the bottom of the glass first, wait for the initial fizzy head to bubble down, and then pour the rest.

Don’t tilt the glass. Rather, hold it upright, or let it stand on a table and pour the wine directly into it. The swirl and turbulence of a tilted glass can cause the wine to bubble up and over.

Don’t over-fill the glass. It’s a sure way to send all that precious liquid cascading over the edges of the glass. Think ‘less is more’ when filling a glass with wine. And with a bottle of bubbly, it’s always better to go back for a refill from a chilled bottle than to sit with the wine getting warm in your glass.
Fluted glasses

They look good. Really, they do. But seriously, this long-stemmed wine glass was developed for two more reasons. Firstly, that long stem offers a place for you to grip the glass without warming that perfectly chilled wine. It’s one of those ingenious inventions that is right up there with the wheel and fire. Secondly, the width of the glass helps the sparkling wine to retain its sparkle as it has a smaller area from which to escape compared to a wider rim.

FAST FACT: A fluted glass should have a pin-prick engraved inside it from which the bubbles can stream. This is to create that steady, but delicate, column of bubbles that trickle up to the top of the glass. Just like diamonds.

When to mix

Any time is a good time to mix really, but bear in mind that the standard ‘champagne and orange juice’ is probably not a good idea for that vintage bottle of genuine sparkling wine. Rather, look at mixing your chosen ‘everyday’ champers – whether it is carbonated or MCC.

Sparkling wine offers a great way to punctuate a celebration with a special toast and with a bit of etiquette, it can turn a special occasion into that memorable event. Cheers!

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6 Responses

  1. those thick and heavy borosilicate wine glasses are the best but they are very expensive ‘`- `-:

  2. most wine glasses have very thin structure and i bet that they break easily not unless they are made of quartz glass “-;

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  4. Perfect piece of work you have done, this site is really cool with superb info about Sparkling etiquette Bubblesonwine's Blog.

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