A Bit of the Bubbly
Put a Personalized Twist on the Traditional Champagne Toast.
When the first glasses of sparkling wines from Le Champagne region of France were poured, the light effervescence was a pleasant byproduct after the pressing of the grapes. It wasn’t until the secondary in-bottle fermentation was perfected in the era of Dom Perignon (a Benedictine monk erroneously credited with the drink’s invention) that the delicate bubbles became a signature of the beverage simply called Champagne. The wine was, in fact, so renowned that it quickly grew to be the beverage of choice to serve during the coronation ceremonies of kings. The drink quickly developed an association with luxury and special occasions. Now more than 300 million bottles are sold annually and over a billion are aging at any one time.
Weddings are the perfect opportunity to enjoy fine champagne. Ranging in taste from extra dry to dessert-sweet and in color from pale gold to rose, champagne’s taste is determined by the addition of sugar after the second in-bottle fermentation. To mark their wedding day with a one-of-a-kind toast, many couples combine the classic drink with flavored mixers and fresh fruit for the marriage toast.
To create your own champagne mixed drink, experiment in advance with a fresh bottle and a variety of fruit juice mixers. For best results, put mixers into champagne flutes first then add the champagne. Because champagne and sparkling wines bubble, layering drinks in this order reduces overflow. When adding fruity mixers, classic brut or extra dry champagne will provide the perfect base. For a sweeter drink, experiment with champagne or sparkling wines with the demi or doux classification. To honor your new marriage, put your own spin on these classic and innovative combinations:
1 tablespoon Crème de Cassis (black currant liqueur)
5 ounces brut champagne
Chilled berries for garnish
Fill champagne flute with Crème de Cassis and top with champagne and berries. Stir gently. (To make Kir, fill wine glass with Crème de Cassis and top with white wine.)
2 ounces orange pineapple juice
3 ounces champagne
Colored rimming sugar
Dampen rim of champagne flute and dip into rimming sugar. Shake off excess. Fill glass with juice and champagne. Stir gently. Top rim with orange wedge. For deeper color, add a splash of cranberry juice.
1 tablespoon Midori (melon liqueur)
5 ounces brut champagne or sparkling wine
Skewer of cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon balls
Fill champagne flute with Midori and top with champagne. Stir gently. Arrange skewer of melon balls and serve.
1–2 tablespoons peach puree or crème de peche (peach syrup)
4 ounces champagne or Prosecco (sparkling Italian dessert wine)
Dip flute rim in water; shake off excess. Rim with sugar. Add peach purée to flute, top with champagne. Stir gently. Garnish with spearmint leaf. If fresh peaches aren’t available, canned cling peaches in light syrup may be puréed.
Few drops of Angostura bitters
5 ounces champagne
This champagne cocktail is a centuries-old classic. Soak the sugar cube in the bitters and add to a flute of champagne. Rub rim with lemon twist and enjoy.
by Michelle Valigursky
Originally published in HM bliss 2009