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  • Tuesday, December 28, 2004 9:00pm
  • Life

From romantic sipping to festive New Year’s toasts, for many people sparkling wine makes the occasion.

The January-February issue of Coastal Living magazine features guidelines for choosing and enjoying a bottle of bubbly.

“Champagne” refers only to sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France. Otherwise, the effervescent drink is known as “sparkling wine.” The name “cava” denotes sparkling wine produced in Spain. “Sekt” is the German term, while the Italian word is “spumante.”

Tips for enjoying the wine, no matter what you call it:

* Make a careful choice. Sparkling wines vary from very dry (brut), slightly sweet (extra sec), medium sweet (sec), sweet (demi-sec), to very sweet (doux). The spicier the food, the sweeter the sparkling wine should be.

* Chill an unopened bottle for 3 hours in the refrigerator or 30 minutes in a bucket of ice and water.

* Get flutes ready for serving, making sure they’re spotless. These tall, thin glasses have the best shape for preserving and showing off the rising bubbles.

* To open a bottle, remove foil and twist off wire cage, holding your thumb over the cork. Cover cork with a kitchen towel. Point bottle at a 45 degree angle and away from everyone. Pull out cork, twisting bottle slightly.

* Pour slowly into flutes, with the glasses tilted at an angle of about 20 degrees.

* Store carefully. Unlike still wine, champagne and all other sparkling wines may be stored upright. All wines, still and sparkling, should be kept in a cool, dark place away from vibration.

How to feed a crowd

Here are some tips from Foodnetwork.com.

* Remember that not everyone is going to eat everything.

* People eat more starches and meats than vegetables at parties.

* If there’s anything fried, it’s going first.

* Don’t forget the buffet rule: people feel the pressure of others behind them, so they move along swiftly and won’t take a whole big chunk of food on the first trip.

Herald news services

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