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Serving Champagne

How to hold the bottle

There is an art to pouring a glass of Champagne. It is a ritual as important for the enjoyment of the wine as the ceremonious opening of the bottle itself. When pouring from a standard-sized bottle, the classic method is to hold the bottle firmly around the middle as you would any other wine. Alternatively, particularly when pouring from a magnum, cradle the bottle in one hand, with your thumb placed in the punt (the indent in the base of the bottle) and the other fingers closed firmly around the body of the bottle. The other hand meanwhile should lightly clasp the neck of the bottle. A sommelier can do this keeping one hand behind his back, though this is a technique probably best reserved for professionals.
Whatever method you use make sure you show off the Grande Marque label so your guests can see this is not just any old Champagne.

Avoid filling the glasses ahead of time or grouping them together on a tray (except when serving a crowd). Hand each guest an empty glass, holding the glass by the stem to avoid warming the wine, and fill each glass in turn. Give every guest your full attention as you do the honours — make them feel as special as the occasion itself.

Another option when pouring a magnum is to use a pouring cradle: two (usually) silver-plated rings with an attached handle, one around the neck and one around the base of the bottle. Larger bottles are best served by tucking the base of the bottle in the crook of one arm, meanwhile supporting the neck with your other hand

Swizzle sticks were once popular as a means of stirring up Champagne to kill the precious bubbles. Decanting is not quite that bad, but close. It may have looked stylish but it was mainly a device to conceal the identity of the Champagne and smooth out some shortcomings in the taste.
Champagne wines these days have nothing to hide and are decanted purely for show. Decanting is part of the art of prolonging the pleasure, pouring the wine slowly and carefully into the decanter so as to give your guests plenty of time to admire the credentials of a great Champagne.

Filling the glasses

Hold the bottle directly above the glass, pouring carefully to encourage the bubbles to form a ring around the sides (the cordon) and prevent excessive foaming. When serving several guests it’s best to pour a small amount of Champagne into each glass then continue filling by stages, leaving the bubbles to subside between each pouring.

Avoid filling the glasses more than half or two-thirds full but top up as often as required to keep the bubbles dancing in the glass. An empty glass is a sad sight but so too is a glass filled to the brim: "in medio stat virtus". A half-full glass concentrates the aromas, while an overfilled glass leaves them no room to breathe. It also increases the risk of the Champagne overflowing, causing what little wine is left in the glass to warm up too quickly to allow for a leisurely tasting experience — which as every aficionado knows, is the only way to enjoy Champagne.
When serving more than one Champagne at a meal, remember to change the glasses when you change the Champagne and pick your moment carefully. If for instance there is a rosé Champagne to go with the sweet course, hold off pouring the wine until the pudding has been served and your guests have settled down.

In fact timing is crucial when serving Champagne.You want every bottle to be at just the right temperature when the time comes to pour. Drinking a toast with Champagne is a case in point. If possible, pick a moment when the speech is being delivered: not so early that the Champagne loses its chill but early enough to fill all the glasses starting with the speaker’s.

Resealing an unfinished bottle

If for some reason you find yourself with an unfinished bottle all is not lost by any means. An uncorked bottle will keep its sparkle for a few days if immediately resealed with a Champagne stopper: typically a metal stopper with an airtight rubber sealing ring, held in place by two metal latches that grip the sides of the bottle neck. Contrary to popular belief, placing a metal spoon in the Champagne does not keep it bubbly and serves no practical purpose whatsoever.