Dec 11 2012

Christmas Morning Champagne (Theresa)

Theresa

 

Nothing says it’s Christmas morning quite like the pop of a freshly opened bottle of champagne…… well, nothing says it quite so eloquently or romantically anyway.

All the girls at Alpha Dog Food are going down the route of champagne with peach or apricot juice this year (depending on what we can get hold of in Ireland in December!): the Bellini made famous by Harry’s Bar in Venice and adored by all women. If you are looking for romance on Christmas day, you couldn’t get off to a better start than serving this up.

1. For the best bubbles try holding the glass at an angle while you fill it, rather than pouring the champagne straight down.

2. Corks from champagne bottles can erupt at speeds of up to 60 mph (97 kilometers per hour). At that speed, a cork in the eye can put a serious damper on any Christmas day romance you had in mind. The damage can range from corneal abrasions to retinal detachment. Ouch.

3. If you’ve navigated the cork-popping successfully, you’ll soon find yourself in bubbly bliss. In fact, champagne owes its flavor to these bubbles, which carry aromas directly to the nose.  In research published in 2009, scientists found that each bubble carries tens of aromatic compounds — compounds that appear in heavier concentrations in bubbles than in the liquid champagne itself.

4. The word champagne is now reserved for sparkling wines coming from the Champagne region of France, but bubbly was first produced in England in the 1500’s.

5. One of the biggest consumers of sparkling wine and champagne are Californians. In 2009, the state consumed 2,938,370 9-litre cases of bubbly.

6. Blood-alcohol levels rise faster in people drinking fizzy champagne compared with people sipping flat stuff, according to research conducted in 2001 at the University of Surrey in England. Forty minutes of drinking bubbly sent people’s blood alcohol to 0.7 milligrams per milliliter, compared with 0.58 milligrams per milliliter for people drinking the beverage flat. No one knows why bubbly has this effect, but it may be that the bubbles somehow influence how fast the alcohol gets taken into the digestive system.

 

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Somehow seduction and champagne have always been linked. Perhaps it’s down to 18th century royal courtesan Madame de Pompadour (favourite mistress to Louis XV). She was the first beauty to drink champagne at royal court. Her favourite brand Moet is still the number one selling champagne around the world today and the current face of the brand is sultry screen star Scarlett Johannson.

Or maybe its thanks to twentieth century cultural icon James Bond, still just as popular with global movie audiences today as he was back in the 1960s. The world’s most sophisticated and sexy secret agent 007 is renowned for his love of employing champagne as a favourite weapon of seduction – whether he happens to be using Dom Perignon, Taittinger Comtes de Champagne or Bollinger Grande Annee, we just instinctively know that choosing the right champagne for the moment means James always gets his girl!

By the late 1700s in France the connection between seduction and champagne was well and truly established. Legend has it that the saucer-shaped champagne glasses called coupes were modelled on the the breasts of another famous French royal: Marie-Antoinette, who was the wife of Louis XVI

They were a saucy lot back at the court of Louis XV and XVI, but in fact the earliest reference to the magical seductive qualities of champagne was by an Englishman called Sir George Etheridge as long ago as 1675.

And remember what another Frenchman said about champagne. This time it was a famous gourmet from the 19th century by the name of Brillat-Savarin: “Burgundy makes you think of silly things; Bordeaux makes you talk about them, and Champagne makes you do them.”

 

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You’re probably going to want something to eat with your champagne, so what’s it to be?

Well, strawberries and chocolate are two delicacies that spring immediately to mind and, apparently, scientific tests have shown that all three have a clear beneficial effect on your state of mind. If you saw the movie Pretty Woman you’ll remember that Julia Roberts used to love to drop a strawberry right into her champagne glass. Champagne purists might turn their noses up at this but, if you enjoy it, go for it, but I’d recommend using rosé champagne rather than white champagne.

For one thing the colour of rosé is enticing and romantic in itself, but the other reason is that rosé is a better complement to the strawberries.

This is partly due to the matching colour, but also because rosé champagne often contains a higher proportion of red grapes, particularly Pinot Noir, than the equivalent white champagne and it’s these grapes that give the champagne those lovely aromas and flavours of red fruit, including strawberries, so the two together are a match made in heaven.

What about chocolate? Well, I hate to be a kill-joy, but chocolate and champagne really aren’t that great a combination. It’s down to you of course, but I think you’ll get much more pleasure if you eat and drink them separately.

The reason for this is that chocolate is rich and creamy in texture and can be quite sweet to the taste. On the other hand, most of the champagne we drink is brut meaning that it has a low sugar content and is fairly crisp and fresh on the palate. These two opposites are best enjoyed on their own.

If you’re absolutely set on eating chocolate with champagne here are a couple of tips that are well worth trying:

  • Try white chocolate instead of dark chocolate      with champagne
  • Try a demi-sec champagne rather than a      brut champagne

Demi-sec is richer in sugar and makes for a much more satisfying, smoother combination with the sweetness of the chocolate. You’ll find demi-sec champagne on sale in most good wines stores.

 

Whatever you decide, have a great Christmas and a very romantic New Year in 2013.

 

Merry Christmas,

Theresa