Champagne High

Like wine, champagne has a complex science to it. But that shouldn't intimidate you from popping a bottle and enjoying a bottle or two (hic*). Here are four things to consider when picking your bubbly of choice.

Like wine, champagne has a complex science to it. But that shouldn't intimidate you from popping a bottle and enjoying a bottle or two (hic*). Here are four things to consider when picking your bubbly of choice.

Brand-Conscious
Over the years, sparkling wines have hailed from countries like Italy, South Africa and the US. The best though remains to be those from a region in northeastern France bearing the same name. Unlike most wines, which are named after chateaus or vineyards, champagne is named after the house that produces them.

In Due Time
Wine tastes better with age. That isn't necessarily the case with Champagne as it should be consumed within two years from the time it has been released for purchase. Champagnes don't differ much in quality as they are often blended–80% of the grapes harvested on the vintage year and 20% of the other years.

Size Matters
Champagne comes in a wide range of sizes, allowing you to purchase only as much as you need. Don't get lost with numbers; just consider these three varieties: half-bottle (slightly more than two glasses), bottle (perfect for a group of four), and magnum (for big parties).

High and Dry
Due to the region's cool weather, grapes from Champagne have low sugar content. Thus houses adjust the dryness or the opposite, sweetness of the finished product by adding rock sugar and yeast during its second fermentation.

Champagne can be quite a costly indulgence. For cheaper alternatives, resort to these "spin-offs" of the classic sparkling wine.

Cava, a type of white or pink sparkling wine, is produced mainly in and around Catalonia, Spain. Aged at least nine months, it is available in varying degrees of sweetness– brut nature, brut (extra dry), seco (dry), semiseco (medium), and dulce (sweet).

Cremant refers to sparkling wines produced in French regions outside of Champagne. Among the more recognized ones is Creamant de Loire, produced in the Loire Valley. Grapes are harvested by hand and aged for at least a year for this type of wine.

Cap Classique is a South African sparkling wine traditionally made with Sauvignon blanc and Chenin blanc grapes in the regions of Cape. The initial cuvee or whole bunch pressing is used to make the Cap Calssique's base, stored in dark cellars for at least a year.

Asti is made from Moscato grapes harvested in Piedmont, Italy. Usually served as a complement to dessert, Asti comes as a fully sparkling wine (Asti Spumante) or a frizzante, semi-sparkling wine (Moscato d'Asti).

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Now, the thing with champagne is that once you pop, you can't stop! If you feel like hitting up a few places to get your champagne (or sparkling wine) fix, then try the places listed below. If you feel like putting a twist in your champagne of choice, then whip-up a Kir Royal (see image above) for you and your friends: pour the Creme de Cassis (blackcurrant liquor) first, then top-off with champagne.

Cheers!

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