Champagne and…

If you think about what might be the most luxurious beverage in the world, you pretty much have to go with champagne. At least according to some wine snobs, the first thing you need to know about it is that it’s not just any sparkling white wine. Champagne has to be from grapes grown in the specific region of France for which it is named, and it must be made under the strict rules of the m├ęthode champenoise.
That is not to say that there aren’t plenty of perfectly delightful sparkling white wines from all over the world, particularly California, Australia/New Zealand, and Spain, just that technically they’re not champagne, no matter how much you and I might insist it tastes just like it. Similarly, there is lots of very fine brandy that tastes as good any made wherever grape juice is distilled into 80 proof liquor, but you can’t call it cognac unless it actually comes from grapes grown in France’s Cognac region.

Of course, once you’re drinking champagne — or really good Brut sparkling white wine from wherever — you may want to add to it to it a bit. The most famous traditional food accompaniment to champagne is Russian caviar. And, indeed with your champagne wishes you may want wondrously expensive kaluga caviar dreams. It also goes nicely with fruit, most desserts, poultry, and cheese.
Another way to gussy up champagne is to make a champagne cocktail. Few drinks are simpler as all it is is champagne with the addition of a sugar cube soaked in aromatic bitters, usually Angostura and a twist of lemon if you want to get fancy. The sugar adds a very slight additional sweetness and the bitters bring a bit of extra flavor, but it’s extremely subtle as you are not to attempt to mix the soaked sugar cube into the drink.
In a proper champagne cocktail, you let the sugar cube sit on the bottom. As the cube dissolves in the liquid, bubbles rise and the overall level of carbonation increases somewhat. Indeed, some say that you can revive a flat champagne by making it a cocktail. It’s not exactly as exciting as having it with beluga caviar, but it doesn’t cost you $150.00 an ounce extra either.

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