Many of us like to celebrate New Years Eve with festivities including Champagne, but very few of us drink enough of it to know much about it. Although it is a wonderful and food friendly wine suitable for any occasion where wine is appropriate, it often remains shrouded in mystery and as New Years approaches people often start asking questions about it. Here are five of the most common questions I hear.
1) What is the difference between French Champagne and other Champagne?
This is a common question with an easy answer. All Champagne is from France. There are other wonderful sparkling wines from other areas of the world, but they do taste different even if they say "Champagne" on the label. You can however celebrate New Years or any other event with any kind of sparkling wine you'd like, or even a beer or nonalcoholic beverage.
2) Can I open Champagne before midnight?
I am amazed how often this question gets asked, but of course you can. You can open a bottle whenever you would like. I usually have a glass with dinner on New Years Eve, and another one at midnight, but it is up to you. There are no rules other than drinking responsibly.
3) How much do I need to spend?
If you are buying the real stuff, you will spend about $30 or more. If there is a type you know and like, you can get that or ask for recommendations at the wine store. You can buy very good non-French sparkling wine for much less. For example a good bottle of Spanish Cava will set you back $15 to $20 on average, sometimes less.
4) Is expensive Champagne worth it?
If you are an experienced, yes, absolutely. If however you just turned of age, have never had any before, and want to buy a bottle of Dom Perignon, you are wasting your money. But a few bottles of less expensive yet excellent sparkling wines first.
5) How cold should it be served?
In general, most is served too cold. Ice cold is too cold. I like to put it in the fridge for a few hours, and then take it out approximately 30-45 minutes before popping the cork. As you drink it, it will warm up further and the flavors will also open up, and if it gets too warm for your taste you can briefly put in one ice.