Happy New Year! Time to Break Out the Bubbly…But Make Sure It’s Really Champagne

 When I think of New Years Eve and special events, I immediately associate them with champagne. But every time you pop a champagne cork, you are creating a celebration of life.  You really don’t need any reason to drink champagne, but New Years Eve is really the time to break out the bubbly.

I love champagne.  There’s something just so exciting about bringing out elegant champagne glasses, chilling a bottle of champagne in an icy bucket, then popping the champagne bottle open (you want to remove the cork slowly, not make a big  noise), and slowly pouring the precious liquid into the glasses. You can toast the end of the new year, or the beginning of a new one, or just celebrate nothing special at all, other than being in the moment.

However, did you know that  not every wine that bubbles or sparkles isn’t genuine champagne?  For your wine to be real champagne, the grapes and the creation of the wine must come from the champagne region of France, which is a clearly defined region located about 90 miles northeast of Paris.  Everything else, despite what it might claim on the label, is just champagne style or sparkling wine.

Champagne is a French treasure,  but you don’t have to be a millionaire or a jet-setter to drink the real thing. You can find genuine champagne in every taste preference, and budget, from precious bottles than run upwards of hundreds and maybe thousands of dollars for rare vintages, to delicious champagnes that are under $20.00 a bottle.

If the last time you had real champagne was years ago at your cousin’s wedding, and you didn’t really love it, you might just have tried a wine that wasn’t to your taste. Like most wine, champagne can be crafted in a variety of styles from earthy to smooth, fruit forward, mineral, and more. It can be dry, or medium dry, or quite sweet. The most popular dryness category of Champagne is “Brut”  which allow for up to 15 grams of residual sugar. This is known as “dry” champagne and it doesn’t leave a sugary taste in your mouth. But some people like the sweeter versions, especially mixed as a punch, or with fresh fruit such as peaches or strawberries floating langoursely in the glass.


Ready to serve champagne? Here are some tips from Remy USA and the Advice Sisters that you should know to help you get the most out of every sip.

1.  Pick the right glass.  The saucer or “coupe” glass was popular in the 1920’s, but today the flute shape is more popular. However, at the Champagne event, more than one representative from the famous champagne houses, suggested that their favorite glass for champagne is more like a white wine tulip shaped glass (the most popular shape for white wine).  I’m assuming it’s because in the couple, the bubbles “mousse” dissipate too quickly in the air, and in the flute, you can’t really enjoy the fruity aroma of the wine. The tulip shape is neither too flat nor too thin.

2.  Chill out.  We usually think of champagne chilled to nearly ice, in a bucket filled with the stuff. But like any great wine, if you chill it too much, you lose the aroma and with it, a lot of the pleasure and taste. Keep your champagne cold, but don’t freeze it so much you can’t taste it.

3.  Look at what you’re drinking.  Just because something is bubbly and cold doesn’t mean you should guzzle it like soda or beer. Hold the glass in your hand by the stem, and look at the wine. Enjoy the color. Watch the energetic bubbling.  Some champagne is very pale, others are golden, yet others, pale rose to nearly red.

4 & 5:    Swirl and sniff  the wine. Swirling looks like an affectation, but actually, it helps to oxegnate and therefore, release the aroma.  Half of what you are tasting, is smell!  Then smell the wine. Try to pick out select notes or note categories, such as fruits, minerals, and toast.

6.  Savor the experience.  Even if you don’t know a lot about wine, take note of what you are sipping. fruit, body acidity, alcohol, longevity of bubbles, how long the finish is, etc.

Just remember as you are sipping your champagne, that Champagne’s climate, chalky soil, and lineage of wine making combine to produce a sparkling wine that can only be made in one place: Champagne, France. There are many sparkling wines produced around the world, but Champagne only comes from Champagne.  In 2011, according to the Champagne Bureau USA (the official U.S. representative of the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne, a trade association which represents the grape growers and houses of Champagne, France), an organization that helps to protect the champagne name, in 2011, Champagne shipped  more than 19.3 million bottles to the United States,  making the United States Champagne’s largest export market outside of Europe.

 For more information, visit the Champagne Bureau online at http://www.champagne.us/ Follow them on Twitter at @ChampagneBureau.


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Alison Blackman Dunham aka. “Advice Sister Alison” and “The Advice Sisters” is a writer, photographer, online advisor, and lifestyles consultant. She has built her reputation offering readers a unique perspective on life, in print, in person and through the camera lens. Her focus is on advice, beauty, fashion, lifestyles, relationships and things that help make life easier, more successful and more fun. Please follow Alison on Twitter @advicesisters and check out her other web (advice-related) sites: leatherandlaceadvice.com & leatherandlacespice.com


  1. I’ve tried quite a few and surprisingly my absolute favorite is Freixenet’s Extra Brut Cordon Negro! Thanks for the visit today on Ascending Butterfly! And Happy New Year!

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