A glass of bubbly in hand is always a welcome thirst-quencher, whatever the occasion may be, and with festivities abounding this December, Carrol Boyes Wines' winemaker, Hendrik Snyman, has given HuffPost SA four tips on how to pick the perfect bubbly for any event:
1. Be able to tell the difference between a sparkling wine, MCC or Champagne.
Not all sparkling wines are Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) or Champagne. Many sparkling wines are "still" wines that have been carbonated, in the way that a soft drink is made. An MCC refers to a wine that has been fermented in the bottle.
While the fermentation process is somewhat similar to that of a Champagne, there' s a difference in the selection of grapes. Champagne is made from certified grapes, which only come from a specific region in France, which allows them to maintain their exclusive rights to the name "Champagne".
2. Sweet or dry?
The amazing range of sparkling wines, MCC and Champagne on offer means there is something to fit every occasion. For a dry taste, look for "extra brut" on the label. For something dry plus a little sweet, look for "brut" or "demi-sec" –- that's even a bit sweeter instead. Depending on the occasion you can serve one type for pre-dinner drinks and another at dinner.
3. The appearance of the wine is also important.
What you should really look for is the appearance, particularly the colour of the Champagne, and size and finesse of the bubbles. High-quality Champagne has a light gold or pale yellow appearance and will be crystal clear, with defined bubbles. Younger champagnes will be lighter, while older ones will be darker.
The smaller the bubbles, the better the champagne. Smaller bubbles mean you get a nice smooth consistency which means it's light on the palette and a more pleasant experience.
4. Chill, serve and relax.
There are many stylish ways to serve Champagne, but what actually best enhances the flavours, bringing the best of the bottle into the spotlight? The answer is a tulip glass or flute with enough space for the aromas, but not so much that you lose all the bubbles. It's essential to chill the bottle for four hours minimum so the Champagne is served at six to eight degrees.
When opening, twist the bottle, not the cork, at a 45-degree angle, and tilt the glass to stop the mousse rising.