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Archive for the 'Champagne' Category

How To Save Summer Herbs for a Winter Cocktail

Friday, July 13th, 2012 at 11:21:37 AM
by Jacqueline S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Summer is one of the best seasons for fresh ingredients. However, once the Winter chill is upon us it’s easy to start missing those aromatics. One of my favorite ways to battle these blues is to make simple syrup from herbs in the Summer and freeze it for cooking and cocktails during the Winter.

I always have leftover basil and lemon-thyme from perusing farmers’ markets in my flip flops as they’re my favorite Summer scents. It’s great chopped and frozen into ice cubes or to make the below simple syrup. Once it’s prepared and sealed you can forget about it in the back of your freezer until the snow falls. Add a few drops to Prosecco for a refreshing Aperitif or even pour it over a snow ball for an icy treat to bring back memories of lush gardens in July.

What are your favorite Summer herbs? Tell us in the comments below!

Basil/Lemon-Thyme Syrup


  • 1 Cup Water
  • 2 Cups Demerara Sugar (Sugar Cane Extract) or Brown Sugar
  • 3 Fresh Lemon-Thyme Sprigs
  • 3 Fresh Basil Leaves
  • 1 Lemon Peel
  • Plastic Tupperware


  1. Bruise herbs with the back of a wooden spoon to release oil.
  2. Bring all ingredients less the sugar to a boil in a small pot.
  3. Once bubbling stir in sugar until it is completely dissolved.
  4. Take off the heat and let cool.
  5. Pour contents through a sieve and into tupperware. Wipe rim to avoid stickiness from the syrup and store in freezer.
  6. Forget about it.

For more information on farmer’s market cocktails check out our Farm-to-Table Cocktails piece from the August issue of the magazine.

4 Simple Tips to Maximize Your Champagne Experience

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011 at 4:58:13 PM
by David M., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Why wait for a special occasion?Fusion Infinity

Champagne can be enjoyed all throughout the year.  Whether it’s complementing brunch or a midnight snack, here are some simple tips to make the most of your Champagne experience.

1) Enjoy chilled. Would you want to drink warm Champagne?  I certainly wouldn’t. If  Champagne is not at the ideal temperature its delicate flavors will be masked by the heat.  Secondly, warm Champagne creates excess foam when you open the bottle which results a loss of Champagne.
Champagne should be colder than white wine.  42-45 degrees is the ideal serving temperature. For a rapid Champagne-chilling process,  place the bottle in a bucket of ice and add a bit of water to it.  After about 20 minutes, you should be good to go.

2) Utilize proper opening techniques. Loosen the wire cage around the top of the bottle and turn the bottle (not the cork) with a towel covering the neck.  Using a towel ensures that you catch the popped cork and cleans up any spillage. It also helps your grip.

3) Pour slowly. Now that you have impressed your friends with your opening technique, you’ll want to start pouring!  Start off slow.  Tilt the Champagne flute and pour a small amount in the glass, trying to avoid excess head (This isn’t beer, people!)  Once the initial foaming stops, continue to pour until the glass is about 2/3rds full.

4) Hold the glass by the stem. If you plan on savoring the nectar, hold the glass by the stem as your hand will warm the Champagne a bit quicker.

Practice makes perfect!

Wine Wisdoms #49: Grower Champagne

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010 at 1:38:57 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Champagne ToastMost Champagne is from large Champagne houses which blend together wine from multiple vintages to create a distinct blend. These houses buy grapes from growers. Grower Champagne is an emerging trend in France that involves smaller, artisanal producers who craft Champagne from their own grapes. Grower Champagne is also referred to as “Artisanal” or “Estate-Bottled” Champagne.

As lovely as a great bottle of luxury Champagne is, it often commands a hefty price tag, while the lesser-known grower Champagnes can offer great value. Like any wine, Champagne is only as good as the fruit that goes into it, so the attention-to-detail that goes into Grower Champagne can pay off, both in the bottle and in your pocket!

Wine Wisdoms #12: Champagne 101

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008 at 2:20:51 PM
by Erika S., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Champagne Toast

Though traditional Champagne is made as a white wine, it is made from a blend of red and white grapes including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. The juice has no contact with the grape skins so despite the red Pinot Noir grapes in the blend, the final result is a white wine.

There are 7 basic steps to making Champagne by the Traditional Method, also called Fermentation in Bottle or Methode Champenoise:

1)  First Fermentation: a still wine is produced from each grape variety that is to be a component of the Champagne (usually Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier).

2) Blending: still wines are blended together from different grapes, vineyards or perhaps different vintages to create a consistent style.

3) Liqueur de Tirage: a blend of wine, sugar, yeast nutrients and a clarifying agent is added to the blend to set off a second fermentation in the bottle and create the sparkle. After the liqueur de tirage is added, the bottle is sealed temporarily.

4) Maturation: the bottles mature horizontally while CO2, yeast and alcohol build inside. An important process called yeast autolysis also occurs in which the yeast digests and interacts with the wine, creating unique flavor components. This process can last as long as ten years!

5) Riddling: the bottles alternate from horizontal to vertical positions to move the deposit of yeast up to the neck of the bottle, so it can be removed. In the past, a skilled person did this work by hand but recently Champagne houses have started to use mechanical techniques. A further period of aging typically occurs after riddling.

6) Disgorgement: the neck of the bottle is frozen so that the yeast deposit can exit the bottle in a clean way. During disgorgement, the pressure inside the bottle from the CO2 releases the deposit fully from the bottle.

7)  Dosage: a small amount of wine is lost during disgorgement so some more wine is added along with liqueur d’expedition (mix of wine and sugar). This process is called dosage and will vary depending on the desired sweetness of the resulting Champagne. Further aging can be done after this depending on the producer’s needs.

Finally the Champagne is sealed and dressed with a label and foil covering. Sparkling wines can be made in a variety of methods but traditional Champagne from France must be made in this method in order to be called “Champagne.”

Learn the best vintages and regions in Roger Voss’s “Champagne’s Brightest Stars”

Find affordable Champagne and sparkling wine at

Shop great Champagne accessories like our beautiful Fusion Infinity Champagne flutes 

From all of us at Wine Enthusiast Companies, have a very Happy New Year!