I was more than a little surprised to be served champagne out of both white glasses and plastic goblets during my visit to Bermuda during the America’s Cup World Series sailing event last week. Moët & Chandon has been a sponsor of America’s Cup since 1987, so you’d think they’d know how to properly serve their champers – and they do.
According to their European rep who I chatted up, their wine maker believes the flute isn’t the best vessel for bubbles. You want to treat champagne similar to white wine and serve it in something that’s got a larger mouth. You’ll want to swirl it (not too vigorously now) and sniff it as you do other wines, but the coupe that was so popular in the 1920s has too much surface area and the bubbles go flat quickly. No need to replace those flutes that break so easily when entertaining. Simply switch over to white wine glasses instead.
Champagne on Ice
Sneakily I sometimes add ice cubes to my wine if: my whites (including champagne) haven’t been properly chilled and I’m impatient or red wine is served too warm, which happens a lot here in North America, but then I try to fish out those ice cubes quickly. According to the Moët lovelies I spoke with last week, there’s actually a long history of serving champagne over ice especially in the South of France. What a relief that I’m not completely gauche! To accommodate these cool customers, Moët has developed Ice Imperial, a slick white bottle of champagne that’s made to be served on the rocks.
It’s refreshing, effervescent and slightly sweet. It doesn’t have that strong yeasty taste so many champagnes do (which is why I often prefer prosecco). Serve Ice Imperial with three large ice cubes in big goblets because you want it chilled with a slight dilution, but not too watered down. Plop in some fruit to make it look even prettier. It tastes terrific with either red berries or citrus and a sprig of mint.
And a final tip, it’s pronounced Mo-et, not Mo-eh. The two dots over the E (called the trema in French and umlaut in German) is your tip off to pronounce it like it’s spelt.