Putting a sparkle on Valentine’s
Continuing our previous article on sparkling wine for Valentine’s Day wining, here are the facts on this fizzy celebratory drink so fitting a special occasion.
The alcohol in Champagne is approximately 12.2% which compares to 12.5% for red wine and 18.8% for dessert wine.
That Champagne you’re popping will get you drunk much quicker than you could have imagined, as bubbles intoxicate you faster than a flat beverage would.
Bubbly drinks also bring on a killer hangover – you have been warned!
Sparkling wines have 6 to 20 grams of sugar per litre of wine (the residual sugar range will be in the 0.6 to 2.0% per litre). So sparkling wines with the lowest levels are extra dry sparkling wines – think brut.
A 150ml pour of brut sparkling wine has less than 2 grams of sugar which is the equivalent of about 1/2 teaspoon.
A standard glass of sparkling wine contains an average of 80 calories. A 750 ml bottle of sparkling wine contains between 495 and 600 calories.
The best news is Champagne has fewer calories than both white and red wine (120 calories).
You should store your sparkling wines the same way you would your still wines, on their side, and in a wine fridge, if possible. If you have a wine fridge, store sparkling wine at a temperature of between 40 and 55 degrees.
These cool temps keep the carbon dioxide intact and prevent the bottle from unexpectedly popping open.
As to how long you can keep unopened sparkling wine, it has similar longevity to red wine and can generally be enjoyed between 2 and 3 years past its listed expiry date. A quality bottle of Champagne should last 3 to 4 years unopened, going up to 10 years the finer the quality.
Once opened, sparkling wine can keep for 1 to 3 days in the fridge with a sparkling wine stopper.
Sparkling wines lose their carbonation quickly after opening. A traditional method sparkling wine, such as Cava or Champagne, will last a little longer than a tank method sparkling wine like Prosecco.
Although it is not the norm to put sparkling wines in the freezer, the good news is that the frozen wine is not ruined. Once the bottle has thawed, it’s still perfectly good for cooking or drinking. Just thaw it out in the refrigerator and drink it within a few days.
If your bubbly has no bubbles, it’s probably past its prime. And if you notice the colour has gone a little too golden or smells sad and sour, it’s likely not at its peak.
The practice of adding ice cubes to sparkling wine has become fashionably popular in the South of France where it’s become known as la piscine which means “swimming pool” in French. Some wineries are even beginning to release wines designed to be served with ice, like the Moet Ice Imperial Rose NV.
Adding fresh fruit and herbs
It may sound odd, but fruit and herbs are the perfect way to enhance your drink. Adding strawberries, mint, citrus or rosemary is also a healthy way of sprucing up your sparkling wine.
Pairing with food
Sparkling wine is extremely food-friendly, because the bubbles and acidity refresh your palate. A rich Champagne can accompany a fancy meal, while a lighter Spanish Cava pairs well with tapas and appetizers. Bubbles also have an affinity for fat, salt and crunch, hence go well with fried chicken, French fries and even popcorn.
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