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Champagne Resources

Posted by Reese On December - 30 - 2009

I’ve been tantalizing you with Champagne cocktails all week but haven’t really been pointing you in any specific direction on the choice of Champagne.  Let’s see if we can’t rectify that with this post.  I’m going to offer you two paths.  The first is to do your homework, understand the basics, seek some advice and then make an educated decision.  The second path is way simpler, just use my suggestions and happily enjoy.

Champagne Cocktail

Path One

While this is the more complex path I’m going to keep it relatively simple for you.

Step 1 - Do some basic research.  I’d start with a quick read of Wikipedia, as any good geek would suggest.  There is a lot of great info on there about growing regions, naming requirements, etc.  Given that wealth of information, I’d recommend you focus on a few facts.  One, if the wine isn’t from the Champagne region of France it’s not really Champagne.  One-B, despite this regulation, there are some great “Champagnes” from other places around the US and the world.  Two, there are a range of sugar contents and each has an associated name.  For most mixing I’d stick with Brut.  It’s a dry option which will allow you to adjust the sweetness of your drinks as you see fit.  For drinking straight I also lean towards Brut, but there are other options depending on your preferences.  Three, there are a variety of Champagnes that are classed based on their grape composition.  For example a “Blanc de Blancs” is composed completely of Chardonnay grapes, whereas a “Blanc de Noirs” is a combo of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes.  That said, a lot you find simply won’t say, and that’s fine too.

Step 2 – Okay, now you’ve got the basics down, how about some suggestions?  Well, naturally you can go lots of places to seek this advice.  My personal suggestion is to first talk to friends and family.  Chances are, if they’re wine appreciators they’ll have some suggestions for you.  As a second option here are some resources that know more about wine than I do.  Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV has a number of episodes about sparkling wines.  This episode is one of my favorites and covers a huge range, both in style and price.  Ben Carter of Benito’s Wine Reviews put up a post last year on some of his personal recommendations.  Finally, I’ll point you to a series of posts on Fredric Koeppel’s blog Bigger Than Your Head where he covers a lot of sparkling wine options.

Path Two

Okay, here’s the compressed, ADHD version for the attention challenged among us.

Mixing – Gruet Brut.  It’s fairly cheap, my bottles were on sale for $12.49, usually $16.99.  Better still, it’s good stuff.  I’d drink it straight and it blends well in cocktails.

Drinking Straight – Schramsberg Brut Rose.  Although my personal choice is the Rose their Blanc de Blancs and Blanc de Noirs are also very good.  These are more expensive choices, about $40.  You could certainly use them for mixing, but I’d say just drink they alone in a flute instead.

So there you have it.  Some guidance on education and selection and the quick approach to the problem.  Let me know if you have any great recommendations to share with everyone.

Real Drink Costs

Posted by Reese On December - 29 - 2009

Have you ever sipped an $8 Gin and Tonic and felt like you were somehow getting screwed?  Well, chances are good that you were.  Drinks are a very high profit item for restaurants and bars.  To give a better idea of the true costs check out the Cocktail Calculator that Rob whipped up over on Cockeyed.  I have to admit I spent about 20 minutes playing with different combinations to see the results.  True geek fun.

To give an example, one of my perennial favorites the Gin and Tonic contains about 36 cents worth of ingredients when made with well spirits.  That’s even cheaper than my budget recipe that rang in at 83 cents.

Champagne Cocktails

Posted by Reese On December - 27 - 2009

Fellow cocktail enthusiasts, I’m back from a relaxing week and ready to talk cocktails.  With New Year’s Eve and Day coming up quick I thought it would be good to look at some Champagne cocktails this week.  Before we get rolling too quickly, I’d like to clear something up.  I’m going to use the term Champagne for these posts.  That said, I’ll likely be mixing with slightly cheaper domestic sparkling wines.  I know it’s “technically” incorrect to use the name Champagne for these wines, but it’s just a lot simpler.  So, in this case, my laziness wins.

Here’s a quick overview of the week.  I’ve got a book review for you on a title dealing exclusively with Champagne based recipes. I’m going to cover a couple cocktails, obviously. :)  Finally, I’m going to point you to some good advice on Champagnes for your parties.

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To kick the week off and get you, and me, in the right frame of mind, I want to point you to a cocktail that I covered about a year ago.  The French 75 is definitely my favorite Champagne cocktail that I’ve mixed thus far.  It combines gin, which you know I love, Champagne, which I’m also a huge fan of, and some citrus for freshness.  It’s truly a fantastic drink and you definitely need to mix one up.  In fact, I’m sipping one right now for some motivation.  I think this drink would be a great addition to a New Year’s party.  They’re quick to mix, can be customized easily by switching up the syrup and are a great way to switch up the traditional Champagne.  A word of warning that is echoed in my previous post.  These drinks pack a punch.  Serve and enjoy in moderation.

Happy Holidays!

Posted by Reese On December - 21 - 2009

I’m going to take a break from cocktail blogging this week and enjoy some time with friends and family.  Fear not, I will definitely not be taking a break from cocktail drinking! :)

I have a couple interesting tidbits to post and I’ll be back in full force next week with some Champagne cocktails to get your New Years party started right.

Review Week!

Posted by Reese On December - 13 - 2009

Usually I try to fit my product reviews in to the week’s general topic (eg a gin review during the week of a gin cocktail).  That leaves me with great products that don’t get reviewed in a timely manner.  So, since we’re on the eve of a giant gift giving season it seems like an appropriate time to review some products!