Champagne for Every Budget

Continued (page 4 of 4)

• Ensure the wine is well chilled before opening: 20 minutes in ice water works best, but an hour in the fridge will do, too.

• Remove the foil and wire casing from the top. Keep one hand firmly on the cork while turning the bottle with your other hand. The pressure inside the bottle will start to push the cork out; it should emerge with a sigh, not a pop.

• Serve Champagne or sparkling wine in a flute—a long, narrow glass—to preserve the fizz and concentrate the aromas. (FYI, there are 250 million bubbles in each bottle—a desperate doctoral candidate counted them.) Even though saucer-shaped coupe glasses were molded after Marie Antoinette's breasts, they allow Champagne to go flat. For a festive touch, throw one or two ripe raspberries—or strawberries—into each glass.

• Use a Champagne stopper to preserve your bubbly for several days. The carbon monoxide in the wine is a natural barrier to oxidation.

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