Pop around the clock

Posted On November 3, 2006

Filed under Festive Wines
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How to open a bottle of bubbly >

• Make sure the bottle is cold (45 to 55 F). To chill a bottle, immerse it in an ice-water bath for 20 minutes.

• Remove and discard the foil covering over the cork.

• Place a cloth napkin or kitchen towel over the cork and cage. Tilt the bottle away from yourself and others at about a 45-degree angle. Brace the bottle against your body.

• Gently untwist and loosen the wire hood so that it will not catch on the lip of the bottle. (You can also remove the hood at this point.)

• Grasping the hood and cork with the napkin or towel, bottle still tilted away, slowly twist the bottle, not the cork.

• As you turn the bottle, the pressure from the bubbles will push the cork out. Keep a firm grip on the cork. It should come off with a whisper, not a loud pop.

A glossary of bubbly terms >
Sparkling wine
is the generic term for wines that have bubbles. Sparkling wines from the Champagne region of France are the only ones that can be called “Champagne”, although many sparkling wines are produced using the same method.

Besides where and how they are made, sparkling wines are classified by how much sugar they contain, ranging from very sweet to no sweetness at all. Generally, those toward the sweeter end of the spectrum go better with food.

CAVA: Spanish sparkling wine, usually made using methode champenoise.

CHAMPAGNE: Strictly speaking, a sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France using the traditional methode champenoise.

CHARMAT METHOD: Sparkling wine is bulk-fermented in vats to create bubbles.

CREMANT: A less-bubbly bubbly that some people prefer with food.

FERMENTED IN THE BOTTLE: This phrase means the second fermentation occurs in the bottle, but then the wine is filtered and rebottled.

FRIZZANTE: Means “lightly sparkling” in Italian.

METHODE CHAMPENOISE: Traditional French Champagne-making method. The second fermentation, which creates natural carbonation, occurs in the bottle in which the wine will be sold.

SEKT: German sparkling wine.

SPARKLING WINE: Generic term to describe wine with bubbles. People also call it bubbly or a “sparkler.”

SPUMANTE: The Italian word for sparkling wine. Prosecco is a popular grape for Italian sparkling wine.

SWEETNESS: Terms to describe sweetness also reflect what are called dosage levels, the amount of residual sugar in the wine. The sparklers with the highest sugar content are called doux (extremely sweet). From there, the sugar amounts and sweetness go down: demi-sec (very sweet), sec, dry (noticeable sweetness), extra dry (slight sweetness), brut (no perceptible sweetness), brut nature (bone dry).

VINS MOUSSEUX: French sparkling wines from other regions.

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