Showing posts with label Champagne. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Champagne. Show all posts

Jun 16, 2017

Wordology, Muselet

It comes from the French: myz.le. It derives its name from the French museler, to muzzle and is a wire cage that fits over the cork of a bottle just below the annulus, of champagne, sparkling wine, or beer to prevent the cork from emerging under the pressure of the carbonated contents. The muselet often has a metal cap (plaque) incorporated in the design which may show the drink maker's emblem.

                 muselet and plaque

Muselets are also known as wirehoods or Champagne wires. Another term sometimes used is agrafe. In Champagne, this was a large metal clip used to secure the cork before capsules were invented, typically during the second fermentation and aging in bottle. A bottle secured with this clip is said to be agrafé. Some French refer to muselet as an agrafe (French for staple), a cork, and a disk. Corks have been used as stoppers since about 1718.


When opening a bottle of champagne you need to remove the muselet that sits on top of the cork. It is loosened by removing the foil and turning the wire counter-clockwise. It takes exactly six turns, or three 360 degree turns to remove the muselet.

It is unclear on who invented the muselet, but is is clear that Dom Perignon and Adolphe Jacqueson made important contributions. Dom Perignon is believed to have made important improvements to the production process of champagne. Including a wire caging on the cork. At that time many bottles were lost during production because the cork or the bottle was unable to withstand the pressure of the Champagne. Dom Perignon’s invention made it better. During 1844 Adolphe Jacqueson made the muselet in the shape and form we know today.

Incidentally, collecting the caps of Champagne and other sparkling wine is called Placomusophilia. The small, dome-shaped, often colorfully decorated metal cap that protects the outer end of the cork are called 'plaque' or 'plaque de muselet'.

Dec 4, 2015

Apple Brandy vs. Calvados

Fall is the time when apple harvesting is at its peak. Along with that comes fresh apple cider (and usually fresh warm doughnuts). Apple cider is a drink made from crushed apples, and sometimes fermented (hard cider).

randy is distilled from fruit, but if it is made from anything other than grapes, it is specified so, like apple brandy. US guidelines say this drink must be made from at least twenty percent apple brandy that has been stored in oak for no less than two years. To create a lighter profile, apple brandy is blended with a neutral spirit.

Like tequila and champagne, the French have Calvados, a legally protected appellation, which means that it must come from a specific geographic location, this is the Lower Normandy region of France. It also must be aged in oak casks for at least two years. Calvados tends to taste 'oakier' and slightly less apple than its American counterpart.

Jul 17, 2015

Cava, Champagne, Cremant, and Prosecco

These are currently the four most popular sparkling wines, although there are many others. Sparkling wines are made using a secondary fermentation of the wine in the bottle to create carbonation. In 2013, Prosecco outsold champagne around the world.

Cava comes from Spain, primarily around Barcelona and the sparkling wine can be extremely high quality. Cavas are made in the 'Traditional Method', and many are aged longer than Champagne is. The principal grapes used are Xarello, Macabeo and Parellada.

Champagne is made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. Only grapes grown in the Champagne region of France can be used for Champagne, which is produced in that region using a specific 'Traditional Method'. Although its history dates back many hundreds of years, Champagne only got its sparkle in 1668 when Pierre Dom PĂ©rignon, cellar master for the Benedictine Abbey was developing new ways to make wine more enjoyable and stumbled on the method by accident.

Cremant is the sparkling wine made in the same way in any French region other than Champagne. There are 23 sparkling wines made in France and each region may use different grapes, such as Chenin Blanc, Cabernet, Pino Gris, etc.

Prosecco is made from the Glera grape in the Veneto region of Italy. It is made using the ‘Tank Method’. Prosecco is perhaps America’s favorite bubbly, because it is not aged “sur lie” as Champagne is, the flavors of Prosecco tend to be simpler and less complex. Think white flowers, apple, and pear. Some even have a bit of sweetness. Sur Lie is the method of adding extra flavor to the finished wine by letting it sit on the lees (decomposing yeast and grapes) in order to extract more aromas and flavors.

Bottom line, all Champagne sparkles, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne. Champagne is perceived as a region for luxury wines, so it can command higher prices than the others, which can be as or more enjoyable. As with all wines, trust your tongue and not the advertising.

Oct 3, 2014

Coupes, Flutes, and Tulips

During the 19th century, champagne glasses were wide and shallow, not at all like the flutes we use today. They were called 'coupes' and legend has it that they were modeled after the shape of Marie Antoinette's left breast.

The coupe eventually gave way to the 'flute', the tall, narrow glasses out of which most of us currently our bubbly. The flute both displays and preserves champagne bubbles, and makes it easier to drink.

Many champagne lovers say the 'tulip' is the true way to enjoy the beverage. The glass is tall, but curves outward to within a couple inches from the mouth, then curves inward to the mouth. This design allows a little more space for swirling, and focuses the aromatics.

May 30, 2014

What's in a Name Sherry

This fortified wine is named for the Anglican version of its town of origin, Jerez de la Frontera in Spain. Like champagne, sherry is a Protected Designation of Origin, and only wine from that area of Spain can be labeled sherry in Europe.

Apr 25, 2014

Arousal Ice Cream

Not a joke. Ice cream maker Charlie Harry Francis of 'Lick Me I’m Delicious' has a new flavor called the Arousal. The flavor combines two key ingredients, Champagne and Viagra. It is dosed with 25mgs of Viagra and is flavored with bubbly champagne. The presentation picture says it all.

Other flavors from Charlie include Chocolate Rhubarb Macaroon, Glow in the Dark Ice Cream, and Salted Whiskey Caramel Cupcake, among others. There is a Facebook page and the official website boasts, "We specialize in making the most delicious incredible frozen treats your mouth will have the pleasure of melting."  Yes, he is serious and he obviously loves his job.

Jun 29, 2012

Belfast Sparkling Cider

This drink found in many Chinese restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area, dates back to the Gold Rush of 1849. According to the story, gold prospectors and sailors would frequent San Francisco’s bar scene in search of a good time.

The sailors treated the bar girls to what they thought was French champagne, but which was actually Belfast Sparkling Cider, a lightly sweetened drink introduced to the region by Irish refugees who immigrated to the US during the potato famine.

Ship captains apparently paid the bar girls to play along and watched their sailors become intoxicated to the point that it wasn’t a struggle to get them back to sea.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, it can be found in almost every large Chinese restaurant in San Francisco and to retailers throughout Chinatown. Belfast is especially popular in the month of the Chinese New Year.