Grab a glass of our Finke's Widow American Sparkling and read up on these little-known bubbly facts.
1. Dom Pérignon isn’t just a luxe brand of bubbles carried by sparkler-clad bottle service girls at the club. French Benedictine monk Dom Pierre Pérignon, alive during the 17th and early 18th centuries, is credited with developing the basic principles for making the Champagne region’s namesake wine.
2. People often fall into the trap of only thinking about bubbles during celebratory occasions. And yes, bubbles are a great way to commemorate special events (and perhaps splurge on a fancy bottle) but such wines are also great to drink every day, especially since they pair so well with a wide variety of foods. Believe or not, one of the best food-beverage pairings in existence is fried chicken and bubbles. While fried chicken is a far cry from caviar, Champagne’s best friend, the reason this duo works so well is that the crisp acidity and minerally nature of many bubblies cuts through the oily richness in a piece of fried chicken, swiping the palate clean and preparing it for the next fatty bite.
3. When it comes to bubbles, there’s no better display of cool dexterity than the act of sabering—an ancient practice used to open a bottle by slicing off the tip of its neck. While some choose to saber with a sword (or large sharp knife), others reach for a plain old butter knife. Though dramatic, this technique is actually simple to accomplish. The trick is to find the bottle’s seam along its neck (after removing its cap and case), then run a blade positioned at a 45° angle quickly along the seam to catch the top lip of the bottle and pop it off. But make sure to plan for a shower of fizz!
4. When it comes to bubbles, not all are created equal. Champagne enthusiasts believe that the smaller and finer a bottle’s bubbles, the higher the juice’s quality.
5. Picture this: You’re at the club, and a firework of lights brightens the dim room as a parade of half-naked bottle service girls prance by in procession, bottles of bubbly held high on display. Most likely those bottles are Champagne—perhaps Dom, or maybe Cristal if you’re rolling with a certain set. Bubbles have been secured as cool-kid juice, the stuff to splurge on if you want to feel like a rockstar.
6. Champagne is Pinot Noir. Though wines made from the Pinot Noir grape are commonly red, Champagne can be produced from that grape, too. In the Champagne region, sparkling wines are mainly made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier or a blend. If a Champagne is made from 100% Chardonnay, it’s called a blanc de blancs, while if it’s made from 100% Pinor Noir, it’s called a blanc de noirs.
7. One of the most iconic sparkling wine cocktails out there is the French Kir Royale. To make it, add one part of crème de cassis (a syrupy-sweet liqueur made from blackcurrants) to five parts of bubbly.
8. You’ll often hear people discussing wine vintages — the number listed on a label which refers to the year in which the bottle’s grapes were harvested. But not all sparkling wines carry a vintage, what’s up with that? While many sparkling wines do list a vintage, some are stamped with “NV” instead. NV stands for “non-vintage,” and indicates that the juice in a given bottle is made from a blend of wines bearing different ages (because remember, sparklers are made from blends of wines). The idea here is that if a certain year doesn't yield juice of a sufficiently high quality (often due to weather factors) to merit its own vintage, a producer can age the wine to make it better, then mix it with others for a final NV bottle.
9. Ditch the flutes. To fully experience the beautiful bouquet of a bubbly bottle, reach for a white wine glass. Many believe that drinking bubbles out of a larger rimmed wine glass enhances a wine’s flavor since the glass’s bowl is more open and allows additional oxygen to enter, likewise helping the imbiber smell the wine’s aroma.
10. Do bubbly wines get you drunk faster? While the rate at which one absorbs alcohol can vary, on average people do tend to absorb alcohol from bubbly drinks more quickly. While the science here is inconclusive, some believe that carbonation pushes alcohol more quickly from the stomach to the small intestine (where alcohol seeps into the blood).
Illustrations by Yoshié Hozumi