Toasting Your Wedding

The use of toasting flutes filled with sparkling champagne is not only traditional, but an integral part of a wedding celebration, and there is an art and etiquette to the process.

Domestic wine producers actually are using the term “champagne” in a broad sense for their sparkling wines (although in Oregon this is banned). Technically, wines produced exclusively within the Champagne region of France are the only ones that have the right to be called champagne. A second fermenting of the wine within the bottle, by adding varying amounts of sugar, cause the carbonation, or bubbling effect, that sets champagne apart from regular wine. Bottles are then corked with a wine collar that prohibits the pressure from inside the bottle to “blow the cork off.” In the mid 1700s laborers in France wore special “catcher’s masks” to prevent injuries when the bottles would spontaneously burst from the pressure.

Different types of wine
Depending on the year of production, the term “vintage” vs “non-vintage” differentiates the quality of wines. Vintage refers to the year when the grapes were exceptional. Non-vintage are usually blends of vintage years with current years, or simply the current year alone. The best quality wine is referred to as the cuvée de prestige, top of the line for that particular wine producer.

Celebration wines or champagnes are usually either white or rosé. You may want a sweeter wine, a red or white wine, or a dry wine, depending on the type of meal it will accompany, or if you are serving it with a meal or simply as an aperitif.

The right selection for your celebration
Of course, you can always choose whichever type of wine you wish, but the basic rule of thumb is that you serve red wine with red meats and white wine with white meat or fish.

A dry red wine, burgundy or Italian red wine would go well with beef, steak or lamb.

A dry, crisp white wine, or a fruity red wine that contains no tannins would do if you were serving fish. Wines with tannins tend to produce a metallic taste when combined with the fish.

Poultry, pork and veal meats tend to follow the rule of white wine. If you wish to use a red wine when serving chicken you would do best in choosing a fruity variety. Turkey, since it contains a large amount of both white and dark meat, would be the exception. You may want to choose either a red or white wine that is fruity and tart for best taste reactions.

With spicy foods, the fruity variety of sparkling wines without tannins do the best.

Opening Champagne bottles
Popping the cork and producing a gusher of wine may be visually appealing, but you are wasting a lot of good wine. The correct way to “pop the cork” is with a whisper, not a bang.

Hold the bottle at a 45 degree angle. Using a corkscrew for anchor, rotate the bottle – not the cork. The cork will then ease out easily, thus avoiding a possible injury from a flying cork.

Serving Champagne
Wine cooling buckets can keep the champagne at the ideal drinking temperature of 43-48 degrees. You can gift that to the couple, or get a personalized wine bucket and fill it with ice.

Champagne is usually served in a Toasting flute, a lovely glass that can be personalized or left blank. They come in a variety of longs stems holding a narrow bowl. The design of the bowl allows the bubbles to froth, which tickles the nose and starts your guests giggling.