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Pour Your Bubbly Like a Beer December 30, 2010

Posted by Alex Sawit in About Wine.

By Alex Sawit

30 December, 2010


It’s that time of year again, Cyrano friends, so get your New Year’s Eve party checklist ready.

Fireworks? Check.

Balloons and confetti? Check.

Champagne? Well, uh…

Okay, so I love the sentimental value of Veuve Clicquot if only because of how flamboyantly it’s mentioned in the movie Casablanca (“I recommend Veuve Clicquot ’26,” actor Claude Rains says famously). Nevertheless, there are lots of happy choices when it comes to sparkling wine that isn’t as outrageously priced as Champagne. You can get great value with Italian Prosecco or have delicious fun with Spanish Cava. Even England, whoopsie-daisies of all places, is now making reasonably priced bubbly that experts say rivals some of the finest Champagnes.

In other words, you don’t need expensive Champagne to toast the New Year.

But whichever you choose to pop open, allow me to repeat this simple, scientifically proven tip to help you fully enjoy your bubbly this New Year’s Eve. That is, when serving it from the bottle, tilt your glasses at a sharp angle and pour the wine like a beer.

I repeat: pour it like a beer. According to the scientists, that’s how Champagne and all sparkling wine should be served from now on.

This advice is still unpopular with conservative restaurateurs and hoteliers. These folks tend to resist scientific evidence that contradicts their artistic approach to fine dining, which is why they were annoyed when a group of French scientists published their controversial study earlier this year in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (study entitled, “On the Losses of Dissolved CO2 During Champagne Serving,” July 2010).

Even prominent English wine critics dismissed the findings of the French scientists (I find it funny, by the way, how many English wine critics love to display a title called “Master of Wine,” a peculiar British-invented credential that just sort of means, “I Studied For Three Years So I Could Be A Wine Lecturing Geek At Cocktail Parties Blah-Blah-Blah”).

“Pouring Champagne like a lager is seen as a really naff way to serve it,” scoffs British wine critic Tom Stevenson, who is labeled outside France as the world’s leading authority on Champagne. “You would not see a sommelier doing it in a million years.”

But those French researchers were merely following an age old hunch. Consumers have long suspected that the standard practice of pouring Champagne straight down a glass to create lots of mousse (foam), which is taught in every sommelier class, wastes effervescence and can even have an undesirable effect on the taste.



Image source: Decanter.com


“In champagne and sparkling wine tasting, the concentration of dissolved CO2 is a parameter of great importance,” wrote the scientists, whose tests clearly showed that the standard serving method results in an excessive loss of dissolved carbon dioxide. This, they said, causes sparkling wines to taste flatter and smell less fragrant.

Since sparkling wine retains better “mouth feel” and bouquet if CO2 loss is minimized, the scientists concluded that the best solution is to simply angle the glass and pour slowly along the side. In other words, use the “beer method” of pouring and it will taste better.



Image source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry


“The beer-like way of serving champagne is much softer than the champagne-like one,” says the study.

Hooray for the scientists. It’s silly that the wine world still has to suffer so much closed-mindedness in this day and age. No matter. Sooner or later, everybody from wine stewards to wine snobs will be following what the researchers have correctly advised. I’ll be happy to toast to that, then, Champagne glass in hand, with all Cyrano friends this New Year’s Eve.






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