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Posts Tagged ‘Champagne’

Valentine’s Day Champagne Choices

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Special Day with a Special Person

Valentine's-Day-2015Most people either love or hate Valentine’s Day. The lovers say, “Qui, qui. Bring It On!” while the haters say, “It’s nothing but a retailer’s scheme to have you part with your hard-earned money.”  Love or hate, it is a perfect excuse (if you need one) to savor a wonderful bottle of champagne with someone special to you.

Most Americans only drink champagne on four occasions-Christmas, New Year’s Eve, weddings and Valentine’s Day. So, if you’re in this crowd it’s time for a toast. It doesn’t matter if you sip a glass with your significant other or with a close friend.  Nothing says, “Special” like a bottle of bubbly.

So if you’re looking for great champagne to share, I’ve done a bit of the legwork for you. These are my “can’t-miss” selections. And if you plan to “pop the question”, you should kick it up a notch by selecting a vintage bottle.


NV Billecart Salmon Brut Rose, Champagne $40

Immediately, you’re hit with that classic brioche and vanilla on the nose. Then, it brings in fresh-picked orchard apples and pears.


Perrier-Jouët NV Grand Brut, Champagne $45

This starts with a floral nose and tastes of juicy apricot, white peach and Washington state cherry. Wonderful minerality.


2007 Louis Roederer Rosé Brut, Champagne $70

You’ll think I’st summer when you open the bottle. It’s filled with a flower blossom nose. Summery white peaches fill your mouth, followed by orange marmalade. It has a refreshing, lemon-lime finish that makes it ideal for the dinner table.


Pol Roger 1999 Extra Cuvee de Reserve Vintage Brut, Champagne $75

The beautiful ruby color is your hint of the strawberry flavor that dances on your tongue. This is a rich wine that will stand up to a dinner that includes a cheese course, beef entré and dessert.

Single or coupled, remember these song lyrics, “Love the one you’re with.”


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Why Drink Champagne?

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Champagne, the Perfect Mate

A Glass of Rose Champagne

Drink Champagne – Often

Ah, Champagne. For me, there is nothing quite like it.  And nothing better.  I could drink champagne every single day of my life and never tire of it.  And if not for my budget and my liver, I probably would do so.  So instead, I preach the gospel of champagne to anyone who will listen. And my message is clear; drink champagne all year.

The summer wedding season is about to begin.  There will also be a host of graduation ceremonies over the next two months.  So get ready to hear that wonderful, sweet, distinctive sound of champagne corks popping.   I don’t think champagne deserves to be labeled worthy of opening only for New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day or reserved for only the most special of occasions. I doubt the champagne house sales rep gush as much about champagne as I do.

Champagne at a Special Occasion

Champagne typically Relegated to Celebrations

So why should you drink champagne? And why do I love it so much?  It’s simple. Champagne is the perfect date/mate.  You can bring it to a party and won’t have to worry about it not fitting in since it matches flawlessly with any food or occasion.  Also, due to champagne’s varying styles, it is like a well-rounded date who can hold her/his own during a conversation on any number of topics.

You won’t have to stress about champagne engaging in inappropriate behavior at the company party.  Champagne knows how to mingle and hold its own.  So you can return to work on Monday morning without fear of reprisal from your boss or HR.

Serve Champagne throughout Dinner

Champagne Pairs Beautifully with All Foods


In addition, champagne is produced in varying levels of sweetness, which helps to support my claim that it’s a perfect date, I mean drink. This allows for some wonderful pairings with a wide variety of foods.

Start your meal with an appetizer, move on to a soup, then savor your main course.  Next comes the dessert; and if you are really having an over-the-top, decadent meal then finish with a cheese course.  With each of these courses, champagne is a faithful companion, adding food-pleasing elements such as acidity, balance, crispness, body and of course off-the-hook flavor.

So whenever you are unsure of what you should serve with a meal, reach for a bottle of good ol’ champagne or at the very least a bottle of Cava or sparkling wine.  When you drink champagne, the world magically becomes better.  So, don’t be surprised if you fall madly in love (with champagne).  And don’t say I didn’t warn you.


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Champagne Terroir is Acknowledged

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The Terroir of Champagne is Unique

Map of China

Map of China

This may be your last chance to buy Chinese Champagne.  Thank your lucky stars for that.

China has finally recognized Champagne as a protected region. Really?  Champagne has been around only since the 17th century. The Chinese government has agreed to use the name and process “Champagne” only when discussing the sparkling wine made in France’s Champagne AOC region.


By agreeing, China will stop labeling their sparkling wines with the word “Champagne”.  How big of them. It’s about time they got on board.

Champagne is truly special.  Champagne may only be labeled as such if it is grown and produced in the distinct region of the same name, located about an hour east of Paris by train.  In addition, the only grape varieties that can be used are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.  However, it may be produced in different styles.

France's Unique Champagne Region

France’s Unique Champagne Region

Blanc de blanc champagne is made from the region’s only permitted white grape, Chardonnay.  Blanc de noirs is produced from the black grape varieties, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.  Rosés are made by blending red and white base wine.

However, there are a handful of sparkling wine producers who are allowed to use the term.  In 2006, the United States and the European Union signed a wine trade agreement stating that no new producers would use the term on bottles.  However, if a winery was granted permission prior, they were grandfathered in, meaning they may continue using the term champagne on their labels.

The French are serious about their wines and their terroir, the special name given to describe the unique characteristics of the soil in a specific region.  Sparking wines produced in other parts of France must label bottles as cremant, even though most are produced in the exact method used by Champagne producers.  And, it’s been this way for a very, very long time. How long?  Since 1919.  That was when the Treaty of Versailles was signed, ending WWII.  The French were thinking way ahead and got a limitation on the use of the word.  They knew they had something special.

Black Couple Toasting Champagne

Couple Toasting Champagne

Many war veterans returned home with a taste for French champagne, my father included.  My dad was stationed in Europe.  Before heading home, he bought a bottle of champagne. When got his orders to return stateside, he cradled this bottle home to share with my mom.  Unfortunately, my grandfather got to to the bottle before my parents had a chance to drink it.  He was not very sophisticated and took one sip and poured it bottle down the drain.  It wasn’t funny at the time but my mom laughs about it to this day.

Champagne and Champagne Flutes

Champagne and Champagne Flutes

This long-awaited action by China brings them into compliance with other nations who promise to recognize the distinct characteristics and attributes of a specific wine region or spirit production area. China also officially recognizes to Napa Valley, Scotch and Cognac. Four down, hundreds to go.  The rest of the wine-producing nations have been on board for some time.

The Italians have their own style of sparkling wine called spumante or prosecco.   If you’d like a glass of sparkling wine when visiting South African , you should ask for Cap Classique.  Spain and many United States wineries produce  sparkling wine in the same, more expensive method as champagne.  Spanish Cava comes from an area just outside of Barcelona in the Penedès region of Catalonia.  Producers use two black grapes called Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada, the only white grape variety authorized.

Try an experiment.  By a bottle of cava, a California sparkling wine and a French champagne.  Cavas are quite inexpensive and there are several responsibly priced California sparking wines available. Taste then side by side, taking time to look at the color, voraciousness of the bubbles and of course the mouth feel.  Write a comment and share your experience.  See if you can taste the terroir from each region.

China is an awakening consumer giant, but I guess sometimes even giants must take baby steps.



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Location is key ingredient to Mardi Gras, just like in wine

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Mardi Gras is a holiday founded on ritual, tradition, and prestige, and of course, delicious delicacies served on Fat Tuesday. So why shouldn’t one hold their celebratory beverages to the same standards? And to receive an unparalleled Mardi Gras celebration, one heads to New Orleans.

Location matters when you celebrate a traditional Mardi Gras just as much when one considers the perfect Port or Champagne.  These are wines that embody the traditions of the lands where they originated, yet they are frequently imitated by manufacturers that use grapes that are not from these regions. Read More >

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Champagnes to enjoy on a Special Occasion

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These French Champagnes say “Je t’aime” (I Love You)

Nicolas Feuillatte champagne

Nicolas Feuillatte champagne

I attended a champagne tasting at The Wine Encounter and the guest winery was Nicolas Feuillatte, a champagne house from Epernay, France that I was not familiar with prior to the event.  But now, I’m a fan.  And if you’re into the point ratings, don’t fret because the various point-granting folks have awarded this house’s bubbly 90 or better on the points scale.

Any of Feuillatte’s champagnes would make an excellent dinner companion for your special night with your special someone.  They have a bottle for all tastes, ranging brut to rosé to demi-sec.  And they offer price points for those on a budget or for someone looking to splurge.

Here’s what I tasted, in order: Read More >

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Top 5 Champagnes & Sparkling Wines for Everyday Drinking

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Champagne brings a celebratory joyousness to any occasion and not even the finest wine can compete with the euphoria people feel when drinking champagne.  And I believe a key element in being a Fine Living Enthusiast is acknowledging that everyday is special; and therefore, worthy of celebration. For example, my wife and I popped open a bottle of champagne simply because it was 09-09-09.  How’s that for using any excuse to celebrate?

Drinking champagne doesn’t have to be a budget buster. And you don’t have to sacrifice flavor either. Read More >

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