Monday, June 6, 2011

Champagne Service

Champagne Service
The art of pouring a glass of Champagne is truly a sight be behold. It looks as elegant as a romantic moment in life and certainly could be part of that memory. You can tell that I am passionate about Champagne as one should be. Champagne is passion as it brings out our inhibited emotions. If you want to loosen someone’s feeling fast then it is Champagne which will do it.

The reason Champagne gets you feeling so good so fast is that it is the fastest way to deliver alcohol to the blood stream from a beverage trough the mouth. The natural carbonation (carbon dioxide, CO2) occurring in the Method Champagnoise process (a double fermentation) of producing Champagne increases the rate of absorption of alcohol.

This is the reason Champagne is used at receptions, for pre-dinner drinks and especially on first dates. You will start to open up and talk to guests and dates very easily.

Opening the bottle of Champagne is easy if you know how and poring is just as easy with the proper training. The whole idea is to serve Champagne with style. The first measure to be taken is the chilling of the bottle. Champagne needs to be chilled to about 6 to 8 degrees C if it is a younger Champagne and a vintage Champagne is perfect at 9 to 10 degrees C. Over chilling could freeze the wine and destroy it. Having the wine too cool will also not allow the release of its aromas and flavours.

The best way to chill a bottle of Champagne is in a ice bucket, in a mixture of water and ice for 20 to 25 minutes. This will bring the Champagne to the right temperature.

There is a very good reason for chilling the wine other than it is white wine and should be chilled. The expansion of the CO2 in the bottle is pushing on the bottle much more at room temperature then when it is chilled. In fact the Champagne bottle is designed to withstand 17.7 atmospheric pressures (1.8 MPA, megapascals) due to the explosiveness of the CO2. At 20 C the pressure in the bottle of Champagne is 5.5 atmospheric pressures and chilled it is closer to 5 atmospheric pressures. Chilling the Champagne compresses the CO2 and the liquid. This is the difference which causes the Champagne to rush out of the bottle if not chilled properly. So make sure the bottle is chilled.

Because of the pressure in the bottle the cork is wired down to the lip of the Champagne bottle by a cage to prevent accidental popping of the cork. It is important to loosen the bindings after taking off the metal foil covering the cork. Make sure to hold the cork with your thumb while using your other hand to loosen the cage. To allow for a rush of CO2 you should tilt the bottle on a 45 degree angle. Using an napkin to hold the cork firmly with one hand and the middle of the bottle with the other hand. The next step is to twist the bottle while wiggling the cork. Make sure to aim the cork away from anyone in the area. Finally, you will hear a “fizz” or slight “puff” of CO2 being realised from the bottle and the cork is off. It is not good to have a loud pop as Champagne could escape with the CO2 and you loose some Champagne. Not good for the person who is paying for it.

Now to pour the Champagne. Most Champagnes have a punt at the bottom of the bottle. The punt is the depression under the bottle. You use the punt to hold the bottle by sticking your thumb in the punt and your four fingers on the outer bottle and doing this with the label showing upwards towards the host and guests. With Champagne there is no tasting only approving of the bottle ordered at first. If there are bubbles then the wine is good to serve. Guests are served first and the serving etiquette is used. Pouring Champagne takes a steady hand and some strength as the bottle is made of thick glass and full with Champagne which can be a little tricky. The best thing to do in order to have better control is to pick the glass off the table and pour the Champagne into a tipped glass angled at 30 degrees and lifting the angle upward as the glass fills. Adjust your pour rate so as to keep the Champagne from bubbling over the glass. Place the full Champagne glass below the water glass to the right of the guest. Repeat the process till the host is served. Remember one bottle of Champagne will fill 5 five ounce glasses to the top.  If one bottle is ordered for 7 people you should pour just over half a glass to make the all the 7 glasses. Presenting your skills makes you look professional and professionals get bigger tips! 

Champagne goes with every course of the dinner and is a great recommendation by the server.  The price will also pad the check and increase your potential tip.

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