December 30th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.
New Year's Eve is all about giving the ol' razzle dazzle: Sparkling garb, sparkling balls dropping, sparkling wine.
For the latter, many opt to toast to the New Year - and the subjective lyrics of "Auld Lang Syne" - with capital-C Champagne.
Daniel Lobsenz, the sommelier at Poste Moderne Brasserie in Washington DC, is one such appreciator of the razzle and dazzle of a bottle of bubbly - but it's a love-hate relationship, especially because Champagne tastes so darn exquisite.
Five Reasons To Not Like Champagne: Daniel Lobsenz
1. She tastes so good, it makes all others seem inadequate.
They invented the process of secondary fermentation in the bottle. I often make the comparison of mass produced Budweiser to a fine Belgian ale, one is carbonated through a means of mass production while the other is slowly fermented in bottle and the taste difference is obvious.
This process is a much slower and more expensive method, but it yields wines that have much more complexity; namely softer and finer bubbles, more complex secondary and tertiary aromas (brioche, crème brûlée, spice, etc.) and a longer finish.
As opposed to the simple fruit forward nature of something like prosecco, Champagne exhibits great fruit, but also minerality, earth, spice, and those interesting yeasty notes that can vary from fresh bread to very savory umami notes when the wine has aged a long time.
The thing is, we get so distracted by the bubbles that we tend to think of all bubbly wines as the same (we call them all champagne even when we know that Champagne is a regional designation). Most consumers notice a difference between the $5 California appellation 'red wine' and a good quality Napa Cab that may cost $25. However, for some reason, many consumers don't acknowledge this difference of quality when it comes to sparkling wine.
It’s up to the Champagne producers and other industry players like retailers, bartenders and sommeliers to show the market that difference. Of course, there are other good sparkling wines: Cava from Spain, Franciacorta from Italy, and many good sparkling houses in the US and Australia that make good traditional method sparkling wine."
2. Unlike beer goggles, Champagne makes everyone else seem uglier and beneath you when you drink it.
Champagne has long been associated with celebration and there are historical documents to prove that it was on the table when these major events in history occurred (in earliest cases, Champagne as it was then known, wasn't even a sparkling wine but the wines of the region had already created this reputation).
Today, this reputation is perpetuated through pop culture. And there is nothing wrong with it being associated as a celebratory drink. However, the wine has so much more to offer than just an indulgence a few times a year."
3. Once you get her to open up, she starts losing her bubbly nature by the minute.
As far as serving goes, I'm going to tell you a secret. I open Champagne at my house all the time, and I don't own a single flute. Flutes look nice, but they do not allow us to smell and appreciate the nuances of a great Champagne. I recommend a smaller wine glass that is more associated with serving white wines.
As far as keeping a bottle fresh, Frédéric Panaïotis, the Chef de Cave of Ruinart, put it to me like this: '1 bottle, 4 people, 15 minutes.'
While Champagne looks nice in your glass, it’s even more enjoyable in your mouth. If you want to save an open bottle, you can purchase champagne stoppers online which will buy you another day or two in the fridge (let's not forget, Champagne is also enjoyable with your eggs in the morning). You may lose a touch of carbonation, but if that CO2 is trapped in the bottle, it will help protect the wine from oxidizing.
If it is a special Champagne and or had a significant amount of age to it, finish it in one sitting among good friends."
4. She's so awesome and beautiful that other people try to pass on inferior product at the cost of her reputation.
In the US, plenty of labels like Korbel and Andre are labeled as Champagne. Even more esteemed houses, like Schramsberg, will label their wines Methode Champenoise. In 2006, the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) regulated that all US sparkling wine producers must use the term 'Sparkling Wine’ or ‘Traditional Method’ on their labels. However, if these houses were making sparkling wine before that, they have a grandfather clause exemption.
When looking for bubbles and true Champagne is not in the cards, my number one concern is production method. If it does not say ‘Traditional Method’ or ‘Methode Champenoise,’ then it is probably not bottle fermented, and in my opinion does not have the same quality and complexity."
5. She's like an unscrupulous call-girl, after a night of wining and dining and promises of the best night of your life, you still wake up in a gutter with an empty wallet and the world’s worst hangover.
For another great value, I enjoy Gruet from New Mexico. They have really seen some great market expansion over the last few years and definitely over deliver for the price. Most of these wines can be found in the $15-$25 price point.
When I am looking to spend on Champagne, my favorite houses are Ruinart and Taittinger. Ruinart has incredible finesse and food pairing versatility and has a great story behind it (It is the oldest operating Champagne House as a sparkling wine producer).
Taittinger also makes a very elegant style, particularly the Tête de Cuvée "Comtes de Champagne" which is made from 100% Chardonnay (yes it is pricey).
I am also a big fan of exploring the world of Grower Champagnes: These are wines made by the actual grape growers, and they tend to have a more unique character that better reflects the vineyard source and vintage.
Among producers that are big standouts for me are Pascal Doquet, who does a blanc de blancs from the Grand Cru of Le Mesnil, which is a great site for Chardonnay.
Gaston Chiquet is another producer who makes a "Special Club" which is basically the equivalent of a Tête de Cuvée for growers; this wine blew me away on my last tasting and is half the price of a Tête de Cuvée from a major house like Moët & Chandon (Dom Perignon).
The great thing about Grower Champagnes is that they over deliver for price. Major champagne houses spend unthinkable amounts of money on marketing and packaging. They need to make that money somewhere and naturally that brings the bottle prices for these big market brands up significantly. Growers can't afford to do this. When you buy grower champagnes, you are buying the wine and nothing else.
The best thing I’d recommend is for people to get out and try different brands. I too often get people who ask for a Champagne that we do not carry and just order a cocktail or still wine instead, because we don’t have the brand that they’re used to ordering. There is so much more out there and I encourage people to try more than just one brand because that’s what their friends or favorite celebrity drinks."
Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.
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Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb..
"When it's the wine that is drank"? Really? Is this the best writing CNN can buy?
I can't believe such an utterly sexist article is published on CNN, much less with the headline on the home page. Are you all drunk?
Heck, #5 could describe any relationship with any woman lol
Rude article, I am sure their are other things to comapare Champagne too. I am disappointed that CNN would put this on their website.
Much better with out the previous title.... Thanks : )
Does anyone else find this article shockingly insulting and sexist?
SEXIST, and by the way, from what I hear, most hookers; even high priced ones, are diseased. I guess drinking Champagne is like getting an STD.
PBR, Heineken, Mardesous Kwak whatever. It all tastes like PBR to me. Happy New Years!
Wow! Has the writer of this article even been to a champagne house in France?
Why is guy drinking red wine when article is about champagne and hookers? Stock photo fail?
Why is your picture on this article Rabbi Abramowitz??
I don't drink alcohol but this article will help me get some questions on Jeopardy :)
I wish champagne was more like call girls because for the same money, at least I would get more than one pop
This was one of the most pretentious articles I've ever read. The people responsible for it should be crammed in a bottle and left there to ferment.
Oh, and that suit makes you look like a public school masturbator whose father sells used Buicks.
right on...I can't stand it when poor people beitch and beitch...
how about 5 reasons the author of this article should never breed? And why he should be hit by a bus, dismembered, and fed to a bear?
All in the same time?
Of course not, the bear would get in the way of the bus :P
Ever hear of satire? Get off your high horse and enjoy life.
Sparklers are my favorite wines hands down. While they of course taste great, I also love them for the style and image. It's just so much fun to play extravagant by wandering around with a glass and switching later in the night to carrying the whole bottle. I don't recommend bottle swigging from the start though cause the time I tried that, I ended up spewing a 6ft fountain of foam thanks to the carbonation pretty much exploding into my mouth. Incredibly funny, but a waste of booze. Pour the first glass THEN drink from the bottle.
And no, I'm not some cretin who thinks Andre is the best, I do actually know a fair bit about wines, having worked for some time selling them. When I want to, I'm quite capable of tasting and enjoying as a normal person. But it's just so much more fun to pretend it's 1983 and partake in the debauchery expected.
Like a call girl? Was that an attempt at humor or just misogynistic commentary?
boeff (both)....and nutting rong w/ dat
Get a life! I've held multiple blind taste tests with friends and family over the years with many different kinds of "champagne"or "sparkling wine" from $300 bottles of Dom to $2 bottles of Andre. The truth is that most people have a very hard time telling the difference between any of them, and they rarely choose the expensive ones (including Dom and Schramsberg) (although the Schramsberg cave tour is great and I recommend it). Surprisingly, the winner of those blind tests has consistently been Cooks, which costs about $5 per bottle. Let me tell you, people who claim they have sophisticated taste when it comes to wine look pretty sheepish when they find out they like Cooks better than Dom!
I can believe people not tasting a difference between Dom Perignon and $20 bottles, but if you think it tastes the same as Andre, then you don't have any taste buds!
Agree w/ Igny here. Though Andre is fun for a quick, bubbly hooray, it has a very different taste. Not unpleasant, just not Champagne. For a very well-priced intro to relatively inexpensive "sparkling", I love the Gruet bottles. Great value, fabulous taste. Made in New Mexico of all places! Try that and see what your friends and family think. I suspect they will very easily tell that this is more complexand enjoyable than Andre.
going out to buy a saber lol there she blows !! imagine shaking before sabering fun fun
what happens if you freeze champaign, will it still be good if you let it thaw out?
if you freeze champagne, the bottle will break from the expanding frozen liquid
No, the water will begin to freeze and the liquid left over will be higher alcohol content destroying the composition of the champagne
We've frozen it accidentally, while chilling (& forgot about it until the next day :-P). Left it outside for an hour or so and it turned out fine. I wouldn't recommend it, but at the end of the day we enjoyed the bottle :-)
"at the end of the day we enjoyed the bottle"
I am translating this to: "We paid for the bottle so by God we drank it!"
If you froze it, you ruined it.
I believe this gentlemen is saying he freezes women and thaws them out for pleasure.
what happens when you freeze champaign, if you let it thaw is it still good?
Okay, maybe that's being a little harsh but I really hate it when people come up with a theme and try to force and article to follow it. If you're going to compare Wine and Women, at least do it in a tasteful/professional manner.
I could not agree more Pat... this suckas pimp hand is weak... shoulda asked an expert I drink my champagne from a chalice of gold and my ho's are mo' reliable than this fools booze.
relax people.....you're taking this way too seriously.
"5. She's like an unscrupulous call-girl, after a night of wining and dining and promises of the best night of your life, you still wake up in a gutter with an empty wallet and the world’s worst hangover."
This writer sounds rather experienced at this. After reading this article I see why.
LOL that made laugh. i was thinking the SAME thing! :)
lol it's just way too detailed...disturbingly so
No kidding... I had to cut that fool for skipping out on one of my girls.
CNN, if you hadn't let Eliot Sptizer go, you could have gotten his expert opinion on this.
what an utterly embarrassing attempt at humor
since crack news network won't let me like your post i must hit reply and agree 100% !
Thats what my girls said when he dropped his drawers... oh and the article isnt so grand either.
Great article, taught me a few very good points to remember. As a big fan (and mediocre home brewer!) of bottle conditioned beers, I can appreciate your view on Champagne/SW production, and I'll remember that next time I go to pick up a bottle. Thanks!
Randy, maybe the booze half of the article was useful but I am not following his advice on how to handle my stable... we did not have what he was looking for anyways... check that picture more closely that fool is drinking wine or adding grape soda to his champagne.
Stupid article. How about point to the fact that humans have used alcohol for thousands of years, and now corporations make the alcohol instead of small breweries. Old time beer was good for food, modern beer like budweiser has nothing healthy about it. Our health problems and addiction rates are so high right now...just saying..most people dont drink homebrews, but I do and they are much easier on your system.
How are champagne grapes like women? They were both stomped on for the writing of this article.
I prefer beer over champagne because unlike a call girl, when I'm done with my beer the empty can is still worth a nickel.
But when I am done, I never leave a call girl "empty".
lmao.... so tru brother
Even though I appreciate humor and pithy writing, I feel stupider for having read this. FAIL!
"Best way to open? WITH A SABER!"
This may become my motto from now on.