Celebrate the Summer with Champagne!

One of my favorite drinks is champagne. I would have a glass of champagne any time of the year, but I have to admit that a glass of champagne on a warm summer day, it's just perfect. 

At home, we buy champagne from time to time to celebrate special events, but also just for the fun to drink a glass of champagne.  For instance, last Sunday, my husband bought a bottle of Spanish Cava (which is the name that we give to sparkling wines in Northern Spain) because we were hoping to celebrate the victory of Argentina in the final of the World Cup. Unfortunately, as wel all know now, Germany won the final, so we did not have any Cava on Sunday night. 

But, a bottle of Cava doesn't last for too many days in our fridge. My husband and I did drink our bottle of Cava a few days after to celebrate not a big event, but just the fact that we were together that day!

History of Champagne

Those who know me, probably know that I love history. This morning, I was thinking, how much do I know about this bubbling drink called Champagne or Cava? How it differs from other wines? 

Well, I did a little research this morning and found a couple of interesting articles regarding the origins and processes associated with the light sparkling wine called Champagne. Most of the information below comes from a great article (click here to read it) posted in Flamboyant Eats. It's a great article, I highly recommend you read it.

Champagne is only made in the Champagne region of northeastern France which includes the area around Reims and Epernay. In the early years of Champagne production, grapes were only planted in an area covering 84,000 acres around those cities. Today, cities as far north as Burgundy have been authorized to plant the fine grapes that make the famous French wine and call it Champagne.

Of all the grapes that commonly used to make wines, there are only three that are used to make Champagne. Each one bears its own characteristics:
  • Pinot noir: strong body
  • Pinot Meunier: mildly spicy flavor
  • Chardonnay: delicate aroma, fruity flavor
Chardonnay is the only all-white grape of the three. If you’re a Champagne drinker, you may have noticed that most of them are white. That’s because the pulp of dark or black grapes is actually white. These grapes are pressed gently to extract the juice before they have matured enough to produce darker juice. This gently pressed juice, coupled with the naturally white Chardonnay, results in a white wine called Blanc de Blancs (white of whites).
Although most Champagnes are white, there are also rosé or pink versions of Champagne. Winemakers use more of the skin from the black grapes to give the wine a pinker hue. Depending on the producer, a fully matured red wine may also be added to the blend before the second fermentation to make a Champagne rosé. Its colours range from pale pink to a rusty yellow.
Here is another interesting thing about Champagnes. Apparently, if you can remove the wire in five and a half twists, you are about to open a top quality bottle- "the real thing".  Another thing, it's not necessary to remove the wire in order to pop the cork.  Simply loosen the wire and grip the head of the cork with the opener, then gently twist back and forth. 

Some words about the Spanish Cava

Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine similar to Champagne that is almost exclusively produced in the Northern Spanish region of Catalonia. Although Cava may not be referred to as the Spanish champagne, some people still refer to the drink as 'champán' or 'champaña'. Cava has become an important part of Catalan and Spanish family traditions and tends to be consumed on special occasions from weddings to parties. Cava is also very popular in Latino America where is also consumed around Christmas.

According to some experts, the types of Cava may be classified by the amount of sugar added to them, leading to the following classes:
  • Brut Nature - up to 3 grams of sugar, not added sugar
  • Extra Brut - up to 6 grams of sugar per litre
  • Brut - up to 12 grams of sugar per litre
  • Extra Seco (extra dry) - between 12 and 17 grams of sugar per litre
  • Seco (dry) - between 17 and 32 grams of sugar per litre
  • Semiseco (semi-dry) - between 32 and 50 grams of sugar per litre
  • Dulce (sweet) - more than 50 grams of sugar per litre

Things Not To Do with Champagne or Cava
  • Do not over chill it.
  • Do not under fill the ice bucket: you'll wind up chilling only half the bottle; add cold water to ice cubes to make sure the bottle is well submerged; this also makes it easier to put the bottle back into the bucket.
  • Do not try to chill two bottles in a bucket; it is better to leave the second bottle in the refrigerator in an insulated container.
  • Do not chill the glasses ahead of time; it will have a negative effect on the release of the bubbles and the bouquet of the champagne.

Now, that you know a little bit more about all that you need to do is enjoy a glass of your favorite Champagne or Cava...and, Santé! Salud!

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