New Year’s Eve is the perfect opportunity to dazzle your friends with these must-know fizzy facts. And, of course, you will have to taste along as you learn.
1. There are about 250 million bubbles in a standard bottle of Champagne!
The house of Moët et Chandon has studied the fascinating matter of bubbles size, shape and number – just because!
2. Danger: Cleanliness can kill!
Detergent residue can coat the surface of your flutes and hamper bubble formation! Give your glasses a good (hand) wash with dish soap, and then rinse at least twice with very hot water so ensure that all detergent is gone. Polish with a microfibre polishing cloth (you should never be without one!) for immaculate glasses. Available at the New District Dunbar Wine Shop for $5.99 or wherever fine glassware is sold.
3. Limoux is a region in southern France that made sparkling wines before Champagne was deliberately bubbly
Featuring the local Mauzac grape with a smidge of Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc allowed, Blanquette which means ‘small white’ in the old Languedoc dialect (say blahn-ket), is the nickname of the Mauzac grape. Antech Blanquette de Limoux shows off the grassy, apple, floral charm of Mauzac. Available at the New District Dunbar Wine Shop for $29.99.
4. Germans drink more sparkling wine than any other country
They get the record for popping the cork on over 46 million cases of fizz a year (France lags behind at 30 million cases). Sekt is the main style of bubbly made in Germany.
5. Weighty matters
The pressure in a bottle of Champagne is around 90 pounds per square inch (like a truck tire) and that can send the cork shooting out at over 45 kilometers per hour (or more depending on temperature and pressure). The distance a champagne cork can travel, once popped, is about 55 metres!
6. James Bond’s champagne of choice is from the house of Bollinger
A handshake deal between the Bolly owners and Albert (Cubby) Broccoli in 1978 formalized this enduring relationship. Full-bodied and seductive, this could be your secret weapon.
7. Spain got in on the bubbly action in the late 1700s
And they are the fourth largest producer of sparkling wines behind France, Italy, and Germany. Look for the word ‘Cava’ for a lovely bottle of fizz produced in the bottle-fermented method, just like champagne. Usually made from local white grapes they are well priced and well worth exploring. For the most elegant choose Parés Baltà Cava Brut Organico for $23.99.
8. The champagne house of Ruinart seems to be the first to bottle and sell a rosé Champagne.
These days pink champagnes still represent just a fraction of production, but offer a gorgeous red berry experience that you can try in Champagne Geoffroy Rose dé Saignée. This deeply coloured wine is made from all-Pinot Noir, with the seldom used skin contact - or saignee - method. It’s pricey ($95), but a stunner. A budget fizzy pink made from a five grape blend is Charles de Fere’s Cuvée Jean Louis Rosé with soft, creamy mousse for less than $15. Both available at New District Dunbar Wine Shop.
9. It’s more than okay to have breakfast bubbles!
On a Sunday morning, along with waffles, peach compote and fluffy whipped cream, try some bubbly! Gomba Boschetti Moscato is on the shelf at New District Dunbar Wine Shop for $21.99.
10. Prosecco is a lifestyle
Though not as complex as traditional bottle-fermented sparkling wines, Prosecco is beloved by many for sheer drinkability and value. Made in the Venetian region, the Glera grape brings peachy, apply flavours with a whisper of sweetness. For under $20, you can toast every day with Luna Argenta Prosecco, available at New District Dunbar Wine Shop.
11. Farewell to the flute?
Many sparkling wine producers are now recommending a tulip-shaped glass (like a slim white wine glass) so that you have a little room to gently swirl the good stuff and inhale the toasty, nutty aromas and let the wine open up. Gérard Liger-Belair, a physicist at the University of Reims, who’s made it his life’s work to study bubble science says that ‘the spherical shape of the glass, which also encourages vertical movement, respects the role of the mousse’. Trust Riedel to make just the perfect (and yes, pricey) shapely stem.
12. British Columbia is committed to the bubble game!
At least 60 of our wineries make spectacular fizz, like Fitz Brut 2013. From one of the the Okanagan’s newest producers, Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards, it’s seriously aged and brimming with brioche and apple flavours. Another B.C. fizzy favourite is Okanagan Crush Pad’s Narrative Ancient Method - made in an age-old way. Toasty yeasty lemony flavours are a pure expression of vintage and vineyard.
This article was originally published as 12 fizzy facts about champagne to boost your bubble IQ for Daily Hive Vancouver, now adapted for this blog post.