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The Wine Cellar: All About Champagne

There are some great Italian sparkling wines like Prosecco and Asti Spumanti, but this is the the one time when the French champagnes are actually best:  Moet, Louis Roederer, Nicholas Leuitte ($50 price range); if $50 is too much, try the Korbel, I happen to like it, and that comes from a person that has had the 1990 Vintage of Dom Perignon, not only did I not care for the taste, its obviously $100 more even if it did taste slightly better... try teh Louis Roederer, it scores a 91 rating from Wine Spectator Magazine, and you can get it for $35-40.  Just some trivia for you, there are an estimated 45 million bubbles in a single bottle of champagne.  

How to open the bottle?  No, you dont pop the cork so it goes flying across the room, those corks can travel more than 60 MPH, so not the best idea if you are in a crowded room.  You simply take a towel or your hand and slowly twist the cork from the bottle left to right, upward till you hear a "pop", its a bit more classy and elgant rather than the cork going flying across the room, breaking something, getting lost and/or injuring someone.

Asti/Asti Spumante: A sparkling white wine made from the Moscato grape produced in and around Asti in the Piedmont region of northern Italy. It is sometimes referred to as the "Champagne of Italy".

Bottle: Glass bottles are the best way to store wine for long periods of time because it does not affect the taste of the wine in any way.  I doubt you will ever see wine come in plastic bottles, and those that come in "boxes" that actually have plastic liners are to be avoided, even for use in sangria.

Brut: The driest type of champagne or other sparkling wine.

Carbonated Wine: Wine that is artificially injected with carbon dioxide to make it sparkling, obviously this happens in lower qualit wines and should be avoided.

Champagne: Only 75 miles northeast of Paris, the region has over 300 villages and produces the best-known sparkling wines in the world. Only wines produced here can legally be called champagne.

Charmat Process: The process of producing sparkling wine in a tank rather than a bottle, it is used to mass-produce inexpensive sparkling wines.

Clean: A wine with no offensive odors or tastes.

Cork:  The protector or guardian of a bottle of wine, it is a hard sponge-like insertion which is actually from the bark of the cork tree.  Today, you will see synthetic corks whic some prefer because they are easier to remove and re-insert to a bottle of unfinished wine.  Many are purists and feel that only natural cork should be put in bottles, but there is now a cork shortage.  Additionally, sometimes there is a fungus on the cork which can ruin a bottle of wine (some refer to this as the wine being "corked or corky" as in bad, and/or a person who has had too much wine to drink and is drunk).  While it is very rare corks go bad, (perhaps 1/1000), I personally have never encountered this problem.

Crackling: Used to indicate a wine that is mildly sparkling.

Crisp: Often refers to a white wine with good acid balance that is fresh and lively.

Demi-Sac: Champagne or other sparkling wines that are semi-sweet.

Filtering: Elimination of the deposits formed in a sparkling wine during its second fermentation in the bottle.

Fizzante: An Italian word meaning semi-sparkling wines.

House: A term used for producers of Champagne.

Lambrusco: A fizzy, usually red, dry to sweet wine from northern Italy, made from grape of the same name.

Non-Vintage Champagne: A Champagne containing the juice for grapes of different years.

Prosecco: The Italian version of champagne

Sparkling Wine: Wines containing bubbles of carbon dioxide gas (a byproduct of fermentation).

Spumante: Italian term for sparkling wine.

Vintage Champagne: Champagne made from grapes from a single harvest rather than a blend (Cuvee) from several harvest years.

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