bubbly sparkling wine

There is an art to pouring a glass of Champagne or sparkling wine. Image: George Desipris/Pexels

New year’s fizz: How to chill, open and serve bubbly like a pro

Nothing signals New Year like a bottle of champers. Here’s hoping you stocked up before the new restrictions.

bubbly sparkling wine

There is an art to pouring a glass of Champagne or sparkling wine. Image: George Desipris/Pexels

Bubbly conjures up images of special-occasion celebrations, elegant dining and romance. Champagne became associated with European royalty in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, and has maintained its classy status ever since.

Champagne is made from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France and produced using the Méthode Champenoise. Real Champagne usually comes with a hefty price tag, but other bubbly like prosecco, cava, MCC and sparkling wine are widely available and also provide the perfect pop when needed.

Whether you are drinking Dom Perignon, cava from Spain, prosecco from Italy or just some garden-variety sparkling wine this New Year, here are top tips for chilling, opening and serving your bubbles.  

Make Sure the Bottle Is Chilled

champagne bubbly
At the end of a surreal year, there are still a few things worth celebrating. Image: Cottonbro/Pexels

Bubbly should be properly chilled to around 7˚C. If the bottle isn’t cold enough, the pressure inside will cause the cork to release very quickly. This causes the celebratory “pop” of the cork, but it can cause a geyser of liquid too, which is a waste of good tipple!

Top tip: If you want to cool your bottle of bubbly quickly and keep cold bottles very cold, place them in an ice bucket half-filled with ice and half with water for 20 minutes.

Choose the Right Glass

There has been much debate around the best glass to serve bubbly in. Source: Pexels

Bubbly is most often served in flutes, but a new generation of experts says that’s not the optimal shape. According to them the narrow opening of a flute preserves the drink’s effervescence, but doesn’t let in enough oxygen to “open up” the bubbly or expose enough surface area for the aroma to reach the nose.

Champagne coupes are another classic choice for sipping bubbly. Nothing says Hollywood glam like the wide-mouthed coupe or champagne saucer, but these glasses let the effervescence and aroma dissipate too quickly, and are too shallow to allow the wine to aerate properly.

Champagne, it seems, is best enjoyed in a tulip glass, which is tall enough to allow the bubbles and aromas to develop to the full.

Whatever glass you choose to use, the one hard-and-fast rule when it comes to serving sparkling wines is to use stemmed glasses.

Top tip: Always hold the glass by the stem, rather than by the bowl, so the drink stays chilled.

Uncork Chilled bubbly Properly

Follow these steps from delishably.com to uncork bubbly like a pro.

  1. Carefully remove the foil from around the top of the bottle.
  2. Loosen the wire cage around the cork by holding the wire loop and untwisting its six twists. Leave the loosened cage in place over the cork.
  3. Cover the top of the bottle with a cloth napkin as a safety precaution. Holding the base of the bottle in your non-dominant hand, tilt the top of the bottle away from you and anyone else, and anything breakable at a 45-degree angle.
  4. Still holding the base of the bottle firmly, grasp the cork (still covered with the loosened wire cage) through the napkin so the cork can’t pop off prematurely, keeping either your thumb or palm over the cork.
  5. Putting some counter-pressure on the top of the cork with your thumb or palm, twist the bottle counter-clockwise at a slow, constant speed until the cork loosens and comes out of the neck. You may hear a small amount of air escaping just before the cork comes out. If you do this correctly, you should hear almost no sound. 

Top tip: Always twist the bottle, not the cork. Popping the cork may sound festive, but the lost fizz diminishes the taste.

Pour bubbly Correctly

bubbly sparkling wine hold
Put your thumb in the dent at the bottom of the bottle and spread your other fingers over the base to hold it. Image: Adobe Stock

There is an art to pouring bubbly. The aim is to reduce the amount of foam while pouring, so keep the flow slow and steady to encourage the bubbles to collect around the sides and settle there before you finish pouring.

  1. Grip the base of the bottle firmly with your dominant hand. If your hands are small or you lack sufficient grip strength to hold the bottle securely, press your thumb into the dent underneath the bottle for better stability.
  2. Holding the glass by the stem, tilt it toward the bottle at a 45-degree angle and raise it to just under the mouth of the bottle.
  3. Slowly tilt the bottle so the wine slides down the side of the glass as you pour.
  4. Do not fill the glass more than two-thirds.