Q: What's the difference between Champagne and sparkling wine?
A: Both are sparkling wines, but Champagne is produced only in the Champagne region of France.
Q: What varieties of grapes may be used to make Champagne?
A: Pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier.
Q: Where do the bubbles come from?
A: One of three ways:
By a secondary fermentation of the wine with yeast and sugar in the bottle, known as methode champenoise, that gives off carbon dioxide gas. The bubbles are very small.
By charmat, heating the wine with yeast and sugar in a glass-lined tank.
By pumping carbon dioxide into the wine, like soda pop. The bubbles are large.
Q: What is one way to judge quality?
A: The size of the bubbles: the smaller the better.
Q: Why do sparkling wines tickle the nose?
A: When the gas bubbles reach the surface, they collapse and shoot a little wine into the air.
Q: What is the key ingredient in the oldest and most classic Champagne cocktail?
A: Angostura bitters made from alcohol flavored with bitter herbs, citrus and other plants.
Q: Who supposedly said, "Come quickly brothers, I am drinking stars."
A: The Benedictine monk Dom Perignon.
Q: How fast can a popped cork travel?
A: Between 40 and 100 mph. The pressure in a bottle of champagne is typically 80 pounds per square inch, about three times that in an automobile tire.
Chilling champagne reduces the interior pressure and the propensity to "explode" out of the bottle.
Q: What is the best way to open a bottle of bubbly?
A: Never push the cork out with your thumbs -- dangerous and wasteful! You want a whisper or a sigh, not a pop.
Remove the foil and the wire cage quickly, using your thumb to hold the cork in place. Then hold the cork with one hand and gently twist the bottle with the other. Try to release the cork as slowly as possible.
Q: Why are ships christened with a bottle of Champagne or wine?
A: The custom began with the ancients, when blood and later wine were used as a sacrifice to the gods of the sea. Champagne came into popular use as a "christening fluid" at the end of the 19th century. The teenage granddaughter of the secretary of the Navy christened the bow of the Maine, the Navy's first steel battleship, with champagne at the New York Navy Yard on Nov. 18, 1890.
Q: What holds the title as the oldest bottle of Champagne?
A: In 2009, a bottle of 1825 Perrier-Jouet Champagne was opened at a ceremony attended by 12 of the world's top wine tasters. Guinness World Records declared it as the oldest bottle of Champagne in the world.