Drinks

How to Open, Pour, Drink, and Store Your Sparkling Wine


Slideshow: Non-Champagne ChampagnesAaron Dyer for Bloomberg BusinessweekSlideshow: Non-Champagne Champagnes

Stand it up  
It’s best to keep most wines in a cool, dark place on their sides to prevent corks from drying out. But sparkling wine should be left upright, because carbonation produces enough humidity to keep corks damp. A study commissioned by the French government found spoilage can occur in fizzy bottles kept on their sides, as their flared corks shrink from too much moisture and allow in oxygen.

Cool it down  
A chill keeps bubbles small. Too warm, sparkling wine gets frothy. Too cold, aromas and flavors disappear. Two hours in the fridge is ideal.

Hiss, don’t pop  
The sommelier-approved way to serve sparkling wine is to secure the cork with one hand and slowly twist the bottle with your other hand, applying downward pressure as the cork rises. You should hear a little hiss, not a loud pop, as gas exits.

Sip, savor, repeat  
Sparkling wine works alone as a celebratory aperitif, but the crisp carbonation and bright acidity make it an ideal match for fatty foods like cheese, roasted duck, or tempura-fried vegetables. With each sip, the bubbles will refresh your palate.

If you must show off  
To saber, start with a cold bottle and remove the foil, wire cage, and paper label at the neck. Standing outdoors, hold the bottle near its base in the palm of your nondominant hand at a 45-degree angle, pointed away from people. Find the vertical seam on the glass and hold a long chef’s knife (or sword) flat against it, with the dull edge aimed toward the top. Swiftly run the blade along the seam and strike the neck’s ring, which will come off clean. Follow through.

Finish the bottle  
Sorry, but you shouldn’t save any for later: Food scientists have concluded the old spoon-in-the-neck trick to be bogus.

Benn is a Bloomberg Businessweek contributor.

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