No other drink sums up both the desire to celebrate and the means of celebration quite so universally as Champagne – or, to speak more generally, sparkling wine. Here's our 'how to' guide for Champagne beginners
Cellaring and Serving
Check the vintage: Non-Vintage Champagne is a blend of several different batches of wine from different years to make a more consistent product. It is produced to drink now, but will keep two to five years if the cork and storage conditions are ideal. Vintage Champagne, made when there is a great season and a vintage year is declared, can keep for five to 10 years (some say more), depending on the cork and storage. These rules also apply to all New Zealand sparkling wines fermented in the bottle.
Chill out: Chilling the wine keeps the aromatics of the bubbles, maintains bubble size and prevents frothing/ foaming, but too chilled takes away aromatics. A couple of hours in the fridge is a good guide. Alternatively leave an unopened bottle in an ice bucket filled with half ice and half water for about 30 minutes
Stop it up: How long your bubbles last depends on the wine and how much is left in the bottle – the fuller the bottle the longer it will last. A stopper in the top will help it last till the next day.
Stand tall: The best glass is still a tall, narrow flute as it preserves the bubbles, although a tulip glass, with a slightly wider tip is also ideal. There are varied opinions though, with other Champagne – and glassware – gurus saying a glass with a wider bowl such as a chardonnay glass will allow the wine to breathe. The trick to avoid losing the fizz with a wider glass is to drink it slightly faster than standing around chatting usually allows.