While you're frying up some eggs and bacon, we're cooking up something else: a way to celebrate today's food holiday.
Everything’s better with bubbles! December 31 is National Champagne Day.
It’s no coincidence that National Champagne Day falls on New Years Eve; the two are probably one of life’s more obvious pairings. In France (and New Orleans), the new year is ushered in with a lavish Réveillon feast where extravagant dishes like lobster, foie gras and escargot are served.
Because Champagne has long since been associated with celebrations, it’s no surprise it was, and still is, the drink of choice for the festivities. Since then, the tradition of toasting the year to come with Champagne can be found worldwide. But, not all countries can rightfully claim to be serving or producing Champagne.
By law, to accurately be called Champagne, the grapes used in the production of the wine must come from the Champagne region of France. Anything else simply isn’t Champagne. Italians call their bubbles Prosecco and Spain has Cava, while in America it’s mostly called sparkling wine.
Another stipulation of calling Champagne by that name is that a second fermentation must happen inside the bottle. Méthode Champenoise is a complicated process. Champagne is typically made from pinot noir and/or chardonnay grapes. The second fermentation creates the bubbles, and the smaller the bubbles, the finer the Champagne. Some wine makers have tried adding carbon dioxide to wine, but the result isn’t authentic. The second fermentation takes place with the addition of sugar and yeast to the wine. When the Champagne is ready, some producers add a sugar syrup to sweeten the wine.
Outside of New Year’s, sparkling wine is perhaps most popularly drunk at brunch in the form of a Mimosa. But, don’t skip over the bubbles portion of the wine list the next time you’re out to dinner; Champagne pairs very well with rich or oily foods. Fried chicken and shrimp and grits are two of my favorites. Pizza also pairs well.
To all those celebrating with (or without) bubbles tonight, have a safe and happy 2013.
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njoy the drink
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