Enjoying Millennium Champagnes

Stretching your champagne dollar when good champagne is in short supply

As the Millennium approaches, the world is expected to consume about 200 million extra glasses of bubbly, making champagne makers happy. The extra demand has led to reports of champagne shortages throughout the world. Champagne maker Perrier-Jouet agrees there will be some shortages of vintage supplies but the champagne maker is also offering tips on how to enjoy that premium bottle of bubbly should New Year's Eve partygoers find one.

According to Perrier-Jouet's website, vintage-dated champagnes will be the ones that are in short supply. The company says it will also be hard to find tête de cuvées because of the its much smaller production and limited supply. Perrier-Jouet admits its premium champagne such as the Fleur de Champagne will be in short supply.

But for those partygoers who are planning to make an event out of cracking open a premium vintage of champagne on New Year's Eve, here are some tips:

- According to Perrier-Jouet, the very best champagne producing years in the last century are 1966, 1969, 1971 and 1973.

- If opening all those bottles for a New Year's Eve bash gets boring, think about buying by the Magnum (equivalent to two bottles), Jeroboam (four bottles), Methuselah (8 bottles), Balthazar (16 bottles), or Nebuchadnezzar (20 bottles)!

- Champagnes must be kept at cooler temperatures than most wines. Ideal storage involves a controlled temperature that avoids fluctuation. Store bottles upright (corks pointing upward) in a dark place at about 40° to 50°. Do not store in a kitchen, or a closet situated against an exterior wall. Kitchens are generally too hot to provide an ideal environment, and refrigerators are too cold for long-term storage.

- Champagnes should always be served in tall slender glasses. The glasses known as "flutes" are ideal because their small surface area allows fewer bubbles to escape and presents more of the wine's fragile bouquet. The old-fashioned "saucer" glasses allow both effervescence and bouquet to escape much too quickly.

- Chill Champagne for no longer than 2 hours to preserve its delicate flavors. Champagnes are best enjoyed quite cold, between 39° and 50°. Less expensive Champagnes should be served in the colder range - vintage Champagnes are better at 45° to 50°. Champagne can be chilled down very quickly by submerging the bottle in a bucket filled with equal parts ice and water.

Source: Perrier-Jouet

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DATE: 8/17/99

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