A Practical Guide to New Year's Bubbles: How to Chill It, Open It and Serve It
Paul Einbund is the wine director of the Slanted Door restaurant group including Out the Door Bush Street and Westfield Centre as well as Heaven's Dog. He also runs the beverage program at Frances, and has worked at Coi and more. Look for him here every Tuesday. Follow him on Twitter @pauleinbund.
Was that a gunshot or someone opening a bottle of sparkling wine? Before the clock strikes midnight, there are a few things you should know about serving the bubbles.
1. Temperature matters
If the wine is too warm, it’s going to explode all over everything. Fun, but you wont have much left to drink. If the wine is too cold, then you wont taste it. Sparkling wine should be served a little colder then most white wine - let’s call it 55 degrees. A little colder is ok, but some people like to bury their bottle in ice until it’s too cold to touch, which just aint right.
2. Open me!
Use a napkin when you open the bottle. I know you feel like a fancy waiter when you do that, but there is a reason for it. Actually, there are two reasons: The napkin will help you to grip the cork, still in it’s cage, and also prevent the cork from flying anywhere – like into light bulbs. You’ll want to loosen the cage around the cork. At this point I always expect the cork to fly out of the bottle, so if it does I’ll be ready for it. How? By having the napkin over the cork. I leave the cage around the cork and use the napkin to grip them both. Then I slowly twist the bottle while holding the cork as steady as possible. You will be able to feel when the cork is coming out – though sometimes it just decides to fly outta there. Hold the bottle at a 70 degree angle so there is more surface area for the pressure to diffuse.
3. Make little sound
You don’t want to hear the cork exploding, even if it does sound cool. Try to make as little sound as possible. The more noise when opening a bottle of bubbles, the less bubbles left inside. Plus you also run the risk of having more wine on the floor then in your glasses.
4. To flute or not to flute?
Whether it is nobler to use a tall, skinny glass is in one’s perspective and desires. If it is true beauty thy doth seeketh, then the flute is for you. If you are looking to get as much flavor and aroma out of the bottle, I say use a white wine glass. My absolute favorite type of glass looks something like this, but you really don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a good glass for the sparklers.
Of course, you could be 17 sheets to the wind by time you get to the bubbles, and all this will be gone from your mind – in which case you should ignore rules 1-4. But if you want to open a nice bottle before you get to ‘that point’ of the evening, remember my words and all shall be merry.
Happy New Year!
Drink well, eat well, have fun, and drive safe. Or better yet, take a cab!