My Nana is 95 and she loves a drink, years of routine has her body clock set for a tipple at 6pm every day. She has varied her favourites over the years, sherry, rum and coke, brandy on ice, but as far as aperitifs go she’s never enjoyed sparkling wine. It’s just too bubbly.
I know what she means, gulping down a glass of liquid and gas can make you, well... burpy, and that’s not very ladylike. So I was interested to hear about a new trend in France to decant Champagne which calms the sometimes aggressive bubbles. The method is simple, take a carafe, make sure its squeaky clean, open your bottle and pour in slowly. Mellowing the fizz is one benefit but this method of serving also helps the characters of the wine to express themselves more, in the same way a carafe aids a big red wine. It may sound a little pretentious but I got to try it for myself and it works.
We had two bottles of Billecart Salmon Vintage 2004, and tried a glass from one bottle that was decanted and compared it with a glass from the other bottle that was not. The decanted version was all pain au raisin and caramel with a rounded velvety texture in contrast to the glass served straight up which was fresher, leaner and more minerally in style. As tasting notes go they’re explicit in the fact they indicate when each version would be best served; the more developed with food and the more austere as an aperitif.
And that was exactly the point. Champagne needn’t be exclusively reserved for the start of a gathering, for the ultimate pomp and ceremony, decant it and serve it at the table.
Handily, Billecart Salmon created a carafe specifically for this purpose and you can buy it in Harrods in a beautiful gift set for £150. If I had my time again, I’d pop it on my wedding list. If you’re still a little sceptical then get it for a friend this wedding season, you never know they may invite you over to try it for yourself.