At some point this festive season we all had a bit of bubbly, hopefully you did it the right way.
1. You're fooled by flash and familiar names
Most Champagne is the less-expensive non vintage stuff that blends vintages to achieve a consistent taste and style. That way you'll know what you're going to taste when you open a bottle of Roederer or Veuve Cliquot.
But you'll almost always get more bang for your buck by picking a bottle with a vintage date on it. (Krug Grande Cuvée is one exception.) That means avoiding the stuff you're familiar with, like non vintage bottles of Moët, Ruinart, Taittinger, Bollinger, etc. (all make splendid vintage-dated cuvées, by the way).
For vintage Champagnes, grapes must come from a single harvest, the year on the label. They're made in small quantities, usually only in top years, and are aged longer before release.
As a result, the wines have more distinctive personalities, with deeper and fuller flavors. They cost a lot less than a Champagne house's flashy prestige cuvee (such as Dom Perignon), but many people actually prefer them.
2. You're buying just a couple of bottles
Buy a case or two. Demand for Champagne skyrockets during holiday season, but at the same time prices drop sharply. A few years ago, Fivethirtyeight.com estimated the average price of a bottle was 18 percent lower at holiday time than during an average week.
The site cited research from two University of Chicago economists that explains why the usual supply-and-demand model doesn't hold-because seasonal Champagne buyers are also super price-conscious, and retailers lower prices to reel them in. Maybe they'll fall in love!
3. You're getting regular-size bottles for a party
I don't know about your friends, but mine aren't satisfied with only a glass or two of bubbly. If you plan to entertain more than four people, spring for magnums (the equivalent of two regular bottles). The big size shouts celebration, makes you look incredibly generous, and, besides, you won't have to open so many bottles.
4. You're storing Champagne in the refrigerator
A refrigerator is not some wine-preserving cryogenic chamber. Three or four days in a food fridge before popping the cork is fine, says Moët & Chandon's wine quality manager, but the conditions are too cold and too dry for longer-term storage. They dry out the cork, which lets in air that flattens a wine's flavors and causes it to lose its sparkle.
Should you stand the bottle up in your refrigerator door or keep it horizontal? Opinionated fizz maker Bruno Paillard insists it will lose bubbles if you store it upright.
In general, take the bottle out about 15 minutes before serving. Like the porridge in Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the temperature should be just right. Serving the wine too cold blanks out the aromas, and if it's too warm, it loses the bright crispness that perks up your taste buds. The ideal temperature is 8 C° to 10 C°.
5. You're casual about opening the bottle
The pressure in a Champagne bottle (because of the bubbles) can shoot out a cork at nearly 25 miles an hour. Flying corks can and do cause damage to lamps, guests, more.
Remove them properly, the way the pros do. No, that doesn't mean hunting down a Champagne saber and learning how to slash off the top of the bottle.
First, take off the wire cage over the cork. Tilt the bottle so it's pointing away from anyone and put a towel over the top. Grab the top of the cork with one hand while you twist the bottle with the other until the cork starts to loosen and gently pops out. Pour slowly, so the bubbles don't overflow the glass.
And don't you dare shake before opening.
* The Washington Post