What’s New Year’s Without Champagne?

Roberto Viernes
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Wednesday - December 28, 2011
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A delectable Champagne

I must say that I really looked forward to the neighborhood fireworks shows every New Year’s Eve. Alas, there will be no more of that, at least in Honolulu.

On the bright side, there won’t be any smoke and sulfur to ruin the aroma of my wine as I welcome the new year. In addition, those of us who spent our hardearned money on making smoke now have some extra to spend on some even nicer wines. My family and I were asking ourselves what we will do in place of fireworks this year. How about doing something completely different this year with wine?

Now you know that there is not a snowball’s chance in you know where that I would celebrate a New Year’s Eve without a great bottle of Champagne. Champagne could be considered a type of firework in itself. The wonderful noise of popping bottles and the beautiful sparkle that Champagne exhibits in the glass remind me of all the fireworks exploding in the sky.

Dom Perignon, Cristal, La Grande Dame and Krug are virtually household names when it comes to great Champagnes. But there are plenty of other Champagnes that get my nod of approval if you are looking to celebrate with something special.

Champagne is really not so different for some. What would be different is if you were to open it by sabering it! (Warning: Sabering Champagne can be dangerous!) Sabrage is a traditional form of cutting off the head of a Champagne bottle with a saber, originally thought to have come from Napoleonic soldiers. There are classes taught on how to do this along with some cool YouTube videos. I’ve done it for the past three years and still have all my digits, can still see out of both eyes and obviously can drink the Champagne afterwards. So it can be done safely. But it is fun, and your friends will probably think you’re cooler after you do it.

How about trying some blind tasting? Friends love to blind taste me on wine I’m not sure why. Throw your wines in a brown bag and see if your friends can figure out the grape type and county it may come from. If they are advanced, maybe they can try the vintage and appellation. And if they are simply awesome tasters, they should get all of that and maybe even the producer correct and the price. I don’t get them all right, but I wish you my rate of success. It doesn’t have to be serious at all. It’s all for fun and even my friends don’t try to take away my Master Sommelier certificate if I am incorrect. You may find that it makes you more keenly aware of what you taste, and in the end make you a better taster. Or you may realize that the wines you drink all taste quite similar. If that happens, then it’s time you try something new.

Lastly, have you ever wondered what the ideal temperature for serving a certain wine is? Here is your chance to find out. Take three glasses and fill them with the same amount of wine. Leave one at “room temperature” and taste it, put one in the fridge for 15 minutes and taste it, then leave the third in the fridge for 30 minutes and taste it.

See which one you like best. It will be different for white and red, but you’ll see that even reds taste better when they are cooler than “room temperature.”

And if none of that entertains you for a little while, sing some karaoke, laugh with friends and family, eat until you are stuffed and have a safe and wonderful New Year’s celebration!


Recommendations: NV Pierre Peters Cuvee Reserve ($59) Delectable, finesseful and joyous Champagne! 2000 Chateau Gombaude-Guillot Pomerol ($79) Rare to find Bordeaux with some maturity at this price. Rarer still that it comes from Pomerol. Absolutely oozing with complexity and richness.


Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier. E-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
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