Winespeed asks the question of whether you should dry your champagne glasses with a lint-free cloth. Here is her answer:
As a matter of fact, in order to maximize you Champagne’s effervescence, leaving a tiny bit of lint in your glass is paramount. As we all know, popping a Champagne cork reduces the tremendous pressure maintained in the thick bottle and releases the carbon dioxide dissolved in the wine. The gas molecules come suddenly out of solution and must collect together in order to form a bubble. Gerard Liger-Belair, a physicist (or “fizzisist”?) at the University of Reims and the world’s leading authority on bubbles, filmed Champagne using high-speed video and a microscope, and discovered that bubbles can form at a rate of 400 per second. Most bubbles form on imperfections or microscopic particles inside the glass, such as pieces of lint that floated into the glass or were left behind by a towel. Molecules of CO2 collect on the particle until together they become buoyant enough to detach and float to the surface as a single bubble. Another bubble of collected CO2 molecules then forms in its place, resulting in the telltale fine lines racing up through the wine. So for optimal effervescence, we recommend wiping Champagne and sparkling wine glasses with a clean, dry (but not lint-free) cloth before using them.
Totally on a different subject, one of my favorite chefs and restaurant owner, Cindy Pawlcyn of Mustard’s Grill in Yountville:
Chef Cindy Pawlcyn, a pioneer in the Napa Valley restaurant scene, lost 3800 cookbooks along with her home in the recent Glass Fire. Collected since she was a little girl, the international cache included rare first editions signed by Elizabeth David, Julia Child, and James Beard, as well as the only copy of her grandmother’s culinary notebook. Pawlcyn started cooking professionally in high school, and later turned Mustards Grill into one of the Napa Valley’s first destination-dining spots.
Do you think the English will celebrate Queen E’s Jubilee?
Ten percent of British are expected to drink a glass of English sparkling wine this weekend, June 2 to 5, to celebrate the Queen of England’s Platinum Jubilee (in honor of Her Majesty’s 70 years on the throne). The magazine Drinks Business reports that Londoners are expected to down 860 glasses of English sparkling every minute throughout the celebration. Less vinously chauvinistic, the Scots are predicted to celebrate with (considerably less expensive) Prosecco. I noticed big inventories of Proseccos while I was in Paris last month.
And what about the lowly corkscrew? The first written reference to a corkscrew appears in a 1681 English museum catalog that lists it as a “Steel Worme used for the drawing of Corks out of Bottles.” Most of those bottles probably contained beer or cider. Both sparklers required tight fitting corks driven deep into the neck of the bottle in order to keep the dissolved gas inside. While the exact date of the corkscrew’s invention is not known, it’s generally thought to have occurred between 1630 and 1675 in England. The tool took its inspiration from worms that were used for muzzle-loaded guns, muskets, and pistols.
From Tasting Table:
According to Decanter magazine, Champagne bottles can be stored upright for a month or two as long as the bottles are cool and undisturbed. Most wines that are intended for further aging and maturation in the bottle require they be positioned on their side to keep the corks moist. Grandes Marques & Maisons de Champagne indicates that every producer varies in their storage philosophy but suggests Champagne bottles have the advantage of containing an internal pressure due to the bubbles, which helps in preventing the corks from drying out.
Still, for longer storage and maturation in the bottle, store Champagne bottles on their sides just like the producers do in their underground cellars (via Rose Hill Cellars). Also, find a wine rack for your wine cellar that will accommodate the voluptuous shape of the Champagne bottle because most standard racks are made for a Bordeaux-style bottle that has straight, parallel sides.
For longer storage of Champagne, store your wines in a wine cellar or the coldest closet in your house. The optimal temperature range for Champagne is between 44 degrees and 50 degrees Fahrenheit with controlled humidity, per Decanter. Grandes Marques & Maisons de Champagne suggests humidity a bit lower than Wine Spectator, in the 60 to 70 F range. Few houses maintain this level of humidity, though, so look for a low-maintenance humidifier to augment the environment around your Champagne.
I try not to store any sparkling wines for champagne for more than 2 or 3 years. After all, there are reasons to celebrate!!