Champagne…the word alone elicits excitement and celebration!

Whether for a wedding or New Year’s Eve, college graduation or special birthday, Champagne is a veritable party in a bottle.

To be truly worthy of the label, Champagne must come from that magical region southwest of Paris known as Champagne. If the bubbly comes from anywhere else it is called sparkling wine, Prosecco or Cava. Sparkling wines are any bubbly wine originating outside the Champagne region of France. Prosecco is from Italy. Cava comes from Spain. Of these, Champagnes usually carry the highest price tag; however, sparkling wines, Prosecco and Cava are wonderful and often cheaper to purchase by the case!

 No matter the source of the wonderful bottle of bubbly you choose, the same etiquette applies.

Champagne can be served:

  • At any time of day without fear of impropriety.
  • At brunch with fresh squeezed orange juice.
  • At lunch with a splash of St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur.
  • As an aperitif before dinner.
  • Paired with caviar to ring in the New Year.
  • With dessert.
  • Après theater or a midnight feast. Why not?

Champagne and sparkling wines are always be served ice cold. Take care to hold glassware by the stem only. You don’t want to warm the bubbles with the palm of your hand!

Speaking of glasses, there are three styles used to serve this timeless elixir. Each has a history and purpose:

The flute helps maintain bubbles and holds a bit more liquid. Flutes also accommodate champagne cocktails such as the French 75, Bellini, and many others. Look them up for your party.

The coupe is said to have been inspired by the shape of a woman’s breast. Coupes are popular at weddings and for building champagne towers.

The tulip is the favored vessel by aficionados because its shape helps maintain longevity of the bubbles and the flare at the top opens up more surface area to allow the sparkling wine to perfume the senses and tantalize tastebuds.

 Dieters rejoice! Sparkling wines contain less calories than most wine or beer. A standard flute of bubbles has roughly 80 calories, opposed to wine which has approximately 120. Champagne and sparkling wines also contain resveratrol, which is an important antioxidant derived from grapes that may help prevent damage to blood vessels and reduce bad cholesterol. Champagne is said to help stave off Alzheimer’s. All the more reason to keep a bottle at the ready in your refrigerator or cellar.

Giving champagne as a gift to a host or hostess this holiday season is a lovely gesture. Don’t forget to include a champagne stopper! Nominally priced, champagne stoppers help keep your bubbles bubbly in your ice bucket or refrigerator.

Here a few of my personal favorites:

  • Laurent Perrier Cuvee Rose Brut Champagne $74
  • Veuve Clicquot Champagne $50
  • Chandon Brut Classic Sparkling Wine $24
  • Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava $11
  • CupCake Prosecco $10

The Queen mother is said to drink at least three glasses a day – the last shortly before bed.  Sweet bubbly dreams!-

Ellen Lenore Wolter is a writer and mom who lives in North Carolina.

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