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Two Women on Wine: Champagne -- a sparkling touch to entertaining

Here are some choices to make a special impression

Posted: December 17, 2009 12:59 p.m.
Updated: December 18, 2009 6:00 a.m.
Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier
Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier
Half the fun of serving champagne or sparkling wine is sharing its equally effervescent story with guests. Whether giving as a gift, serving as a stand-alone or mixed as a holiday cocktail, we have found some wonderful wines with legendary tales that will leave a special impression on friends and family this holiday season. Chill and enjoy!

Heidsieck & Co. Monopole Blue Top
Best known as the official champagne aboard the ill-fated Titanic, several bottles were recovered when the ocean liner's wreckage was salvaged a few years back. Legend has it the bubbly still tasted delicious. Blue Top has the added distinction of being recognized by kings, emperors and aristocrats during the company's two-century old existence. Tsar Nicolas II ordered 400,000 bottles of this bubbly for his personal cellar. Long considered a great sparkling wine by connoisseurs throughout the ages, we're sure this will be at the top of everyone's holiday wish list.

Comte Audoin De Dampierre
Count de Dampierre is an eccentric aristocrat with a passion for producing exceptional champagne for those with a taste for luxury. In his constant quest for quality, he utilizes only Grand Cru and Premier Cru grapes producing a range of cuvèes. With an aristocratic disdain for the new-fangled, the Count is one of the very few producers in the world to continue the "art de ficelage" the old method of tying the cork onto the bottle by hand with waxed twine. Cuvèe des Ambassadeurs Premier Cru is served in 42 embassies around the world, and at receptions held for the occasional king and queen, president and prime minister. In spite of the sheer luxury of these fine wines, some remain quite affordable.

Kir Royale
In late 19th-century France, the mayor of Dijon, Felix Kir, wanted to promote the region's wines. So he concocted a drink that combined white wine with crème de cassis, a sweet liqueur made from black currants (raisins). The "Kir," as it was known, became the rage of Paris cafés. The Kir Royale is a variation with champagne. It's simple and tres chic! Splash about ¼ ounce crème de cassis into a flute and add champagne. Voila!

This luscious, peachy brunch cocktail was created with Prosecco, the Italian sparkling wine, and pureed peaches about 70 years ago in Venice, Italy. It's named for the famous 15th-century Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini. Since peaches are out of season during the winter holidays, we substitute with peach nectar or you can use peach schnapps. Combine 2 ounces peach nectar (or peach puree, juice or schnapps) with 4 ounces Prosecco or champagne.

An ordinary brunch cocktail becomes a classic with a dash of Triple Sec and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Splash about ½ ounces Triple Sec in a flute, then add 1½ ounce orange juice and 3½ ounce champagne. Garnish with a thin slice of orange. You can also garnish with a maraschino cherry.
Champagne cocktail
This is as much fun to make as it is to drink. Start with a sugar cube placed in champagne flute. Then add a dash (and we mean a dash!) of Angostura bitters. Add about ¼ ounce Grand Marnier, 1 ounce Cognac (or brandy) and 6 ounces champagne. Garnish, if you wish, with an orange slice. Elegant!
If you opt for holiday cocktails, here are a couple tips you'll find useful:
- Keep it simple. Add a minimum of ingredients.
- Construct the cocktail so the champagne is added last.
- As you add the wine, tilt the glass slightly to keep from bubbling over.
- Don't stir.
- Make sure the wine is nicely chilled.

We wish you a happy holiday season and a prosperous new year! The Vino 100 staff looks forward to helping make your holidays bright. Cheers from Lil, Shari, Chris and Sarah.


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