A December to Remember
Add a dash of style and sparkle to the holidays!
This December, and during the holiday season, treat yourself and your friends to a touch of decadence and a whole lot of exuberance with a sparkling party. Nothing says a night of fun like ice-cold bottles of sparkling, just waiting to be popped open! Just what will make that effervescent bottle of golden or rosy nectar sparkle? As a natural byproduct of the fermentation process, carbon dioxide is released into the liquid, making the wine fizzy. Sugar is then added after second fermentation, giving sparkling its sweeter taste. A riot of bubbles spring forth when the wine hits a dry glass, which is why a sparkling wine’s effervescence lasts longer in the open bottle. But that’s enough science for now, let’s get down to the fun stuff!
WineShop At Home believes in keeping it simple, and during the hectic holiday season this philosophy is even more appropriate. Create a sparkling wine bar with dishes of small fruits; herbs like mint, thyme or rosemary and carafes of fruit juices or Italian sodas. One area of the bar should be the designated spot where people can pick up a Champagne flute and pour themselves a glass, then, as they work their way down the table, guests can choose to add a splash of juice or a handful of berries for a festive and delicious touch.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning a holiday full of sparkling:
Baby It’s Cold Outside…but Chill Your Sparkling!
Fight the inclination to ladle something piping hot at every holiday party. Switch it up! Sparkling wines are all about bringing those frosty cool temperatures indoors. Sparkling wines are a treat to be served cool – poured straight from the bottle at a temperature range of 43 to 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Place your bottles in the fridge, or better yet, chill your sparkling wines tableside. Next to your stemware, fill a galvanized bucket or other nice container with water and ice. Sprinkle in some rock salt to reduce the temperature to below zero. One definite don’t: never place your wines in the freezer, unless you like cleaning up exploded wine bottles!
Popping the Cork
Remove enough foil from the top of the bottle to reveal the cork. You’ll see that a wire cage covers the cork. On the side of the cage, you’ll see a little section of wire twisted into a little handle. Pull the handle away from the side of the cage and untwist the wire. Point the bottle away from yourself and anyone else around you. That small wire is holding the cork in the bottle, and could release at any moment!
Once the cage is removed, keep a firm hold of the bottle and grip the cork with the other hand. Slowly turn the bottle (not the cork), until the cork emerges from the bottle with a small sigh, not a loud explosion. The louder the pop, the fewer bubbles you’ll enjoy. So pretend you’re in a library and go for the “quiet pop.”
A Pretty Pour
Simply elegant flutes are the way to go whether you’re pouring or having guests serve themselves. If you’re pouring, hold the bottle, placing your thumb into the dimple at the bottom of the bottle (the punt) and splay your fingers across the barrel of the bottle. This will ensure a firm grip of the bottle. Then take a white napkin and wipe the rim. Pour a small splash of wine into the bottom of each glass. Return to each glass, filling it half-way full. Then add a few of your favorite fruits or a splash of juice for a touch of sweetness and color. Here’s one of our favorite combinations:
Rudolph’s Ruby Sparkler
2 parts Petit Cadeau Semi-Seco Sparkling Wine or Grand Cadeau Rosé Sparkling
1 part cranberry juice
Splash of pomegranate juice
Small handful of raspberries, whole or muddled
Small sprig of mint or candied mint
Chill all ingredients. Pour a flute ½ full with Sparkling Wine. Add cranberry juice and pomegranate juice. Swirl gently to blend. Add raspberries and garnish with sprig of mint or candied mint.