Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Debate a Bubble - Plastic Corks in Champagne?

Debate a Bubble - Plastic Corks in Champagne?

Link to Debate a Bubble - Champagne News and Reviews

Plastic Corks in Champagne?

Posted: 24 Jul 2010 07:27 AM PDT

Corks 2

Last week a lady from New Zealand stayed at our Bed & Breakfast -  www.bedandbreakfastinchampagne.com 

Now, in New Zealand and in many other countries, more and more wine, even very high quality wines, are sealed with screw caps. Perhaps this explains why the lady in question told me she'd heard that the people in Champagne were thinking of introducing plastic caps instead of corks.

Personally I can't ever see this happening and certainly not for years and years and when you think about it this isn't surprising.

 Unlike most wines that are sold young so that the consumer ages them at home, champagne is aged in France before sale.

Sometimes the ageing period can be  5, 6, 7 years or even longer, so even if the champenois were to test plastic corks to see if they might be suitable, the tests would have to last at least 7 years to be sure that the results were reliable over the entire ageing period of champagne.

Then of couse there's the prestige image of champagne to consider. Who'd want to buy Dom Pérignon with a screw top?

Last but not least, the question of cost, which might be crucial for some wines that  sell at bargain prices, hardly comes into the picture when you're talking about champagne. The savings of a extra few pence per bottle for a plastic cork might be useful for the accountants, but it's not going to transform the results of the entire company.

So, seeing that they're with us for the foreseeable future, I thought we'd have a closer look at the humble cork, which we all take for granted, but without which champagne would hardly be the same.

Cork is a natural product made from the bark of a cork tree and over the centuries nothing, (until recently some would say), had been found that was better for sealing wine bottles. That's because the structure of the cork allows just the right amount of air to pass between the wine and the outside atmosphere. If no air at all could pass in to and out of the bottle the wine could not develop and mature properly - too much air, on the other hand, and the wine  would rapidly turn to vinegar

The problem with corks however is that they are susceptible to a type of fungus and if this gets into the cork it will impart an unpleasant musty smell to the wine. That's what is meant when a wine is said to be 'corked'.

To reduce the pecentage of 'corked' bottles wine makers have always sought to improve the quality of the corks they use and that  is what has driven the development of alternative closures for wine bottles.(There is a cost consideration too because cork is not cheap to buy).

There are many makers of corks and many different typesCorks5

When you open a bottle of champagne the cork has the characteristic mushroom shape that you know so well, but the cork didn't start out that shape.

When it's inserted into the neck of the bottle the cork is a straight-sided cylindrical shape and it has to be heated slightly (to make it  maleable) before you can get it into the bottle. Either that or a thin film of wax is applied to the cork . Here's a bagful of new corks so you can see what I mean

The  part of the cork that is inside the neck of the bottle stays compressed, whilst the part that is sticking out above the neck of the bottle expands and the bit in between is squeezed by the rim of the bottle and that where the mushroom shape comes from.

People will never stop experimenting with corks and indeed with other stoppers for champagne.

Here are a couple of more conventional types:

Corks3 The first one's an aglomerate. What's that?

Well, the main part of the cork is made of little bits of cork all compressed together. This is relatively cheap, but on the end of the cork - the part that's in contact with the wine - you need something of better quality, so you'll see that there are two circles of solid cork.

The second picture shows a type of cork that's made with with much smaller bits of cork dust, tightly compactedCorks 8

And now for something completely different....

It's called the Maestro and you see  what it's all about on the link. It hit the headlines about a year ago as being the way forward. It's ingenious because it's a device that retains the sound of a genuine cork popping even though the stopper is only plastic.

Inventive though it may be, the Maestro hit difficulties when it ran up against the legislation - there's lots of that in Champagne. The official definition of champagne is that it must be made by a certain method, within a given geographical area and sealed with a cork stopper.  Until and unless that changes, plastic stoppers would seem to be a 'No No' even if they ever pass the rigorous, long-term quality tests that would be required.

Next time you open a bottle of champagne, take a second to look at the cork and see if you can tell what type it is.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Debate a Bubble - A Rare Glimpse Into The Elegant World of Champagne

Debate a Bubble - A Rare Glimpse Into The Elegant World of Champagne

Link to Debate a Bubble - Champagne News and Reviews

A Rare Glimpse Into The Elegant World of Champagne

Posted: 23 Jul 2010 12:54 AM PDT

Hotel Moet I've just had some great news for champagne lovers and especially anyone who adores fine cuisine and would love a privileged glimpse inside the elegant world of a champagne maison.

In the world of elegance and luxury there's nothing much to compare with the style of the great champagne houses and there's no name in champagne that carries more prestige than    Moët & Chandon: 

- Spectacular old residences where guests are received - by invitation only.

- Outstanding food prepared by dedicated brigades of chefs whose skill equals, or even surpasses,   the Michelin starred restaurants open to the public.

- And above all a savoir faire when it comes to entertaining in real style.

Would you like to have a rare glimpse into this world?

Well now you can.L'Orangerie

A couple of weeks ago I made a request to some of my former colleagues at Moët & Chandon to film some interviews inside La Grande Maison and yesterday I had confirmation that it's been approved. Yippee!

It was touch and go whether or not I would be allowed to do this. Not many people get this chance, even former Moët executives , like me, with  connections inside the company, so this is great news for me and for you too!

First I'll be interviewing Yuka Gansser.

Yuka is a lady of great style who is Moët & Chandon's Heritage and Hospitality Director. What Yuka doesn't know about the art of entertaining with champagne is simply not worth knowing and we'll be sharing some of her amazing experience during the interview.

Next I will be with Pascal Tingaud, the chef at  the Château de Saran, a  sublimly elegant residence belonging to Moët and located in the vineyards just outside Epernay.

Chateau de Saran Pascal has been creating dishes to die for at Saran for many years, all matched with just the right bottle of Moët & Chandon or Dom Pérignon.

We'll discover from the man who knows better than anyone, just what are the secrets of matching food and champagne and you'll be able to pick up some advice that you will be able to put into practice at home - imagine what you'll be able to do for the next dinner party you host.

The interviews and many more too will be available to everyone who enrols on the Prestige course in MONICA which stands for the 

Madaboutbubbly ON-line Internet Champagne Academy  

Click on the link to find out more and to enrol NOW .
The first 10 people to enrol will receive a special free give sent to them direct from Champagne, so dont delay.

This is just a part of what you'll discover when you enrol on one of my on-line champagne courses so whether you're a relative champagne novice who wants to gain more confidence and feel more stylish when it comes to champagne, or whether you are already fascinated by champagne and want to really understand everything about it, you'll find the course for you

Go there now and check it out

Stay Bubbly

Monday, July 19, 2010

Debate a Bubble -

Debate a Bubble -

Link to Debate a Bubble - Champagne News and Reviews

Posted: 19 Jul 2010 12:43 AM PDT

What do you do about actually tasting the champagnes?

So let me tell you what or who MONICA is and why

A big hello to all champagnes lovers on a wonderful day here in Champagne


Today I'm going to tell you


·          How to double the enjoyment you get from every glass of champagne you ever drink from now on.


·          How to save yourself a stack of money by not buying bottles of champagne that disappoint you and you wish you'd never bought in the first place.


·        How to throw the most amazingly stylish champagne parties and dinners.


·          How to discover the confidence about everything to do with champagne that will make you feel sophisticated and stylish and turn you into the "host with the most" or "the hostess with the mostest".


·          In short, how to become a real champagne expert in a matter of a few weeks


Then I'd like to introduce you to MONICA


But before I do that I'd like to tell you a quick story about when I first started in the champagne business. I worked for Moët & Chandon for a number of years and part of my job was to travel to various countries and host champagne events.


Obviously it was Moët & Chandon that was served and I was expected to say a few words about the champagne - quite a few words actually. Well I'd had some initial training about the champagne but I was hardly an expert – just sort of thrown in at the deep end really.


Usually everything went fine mind you, but occasionally there would be someone who would make a remark, or ask a questions and I would not know how to answer.




 I assumed that the person in front of me must be an expert and here's little old me who is supposed to know the answer and doesn't! Aargh!


Well, after a few moments when I wanted the ground to swallow me up I would find something to say and sort of hope that I'd got  away with it and not too many people had really noticed my ignorance, but I was left with a bad feeling that I was a real dummy and frankly it spoiled what should have been a great occasion.


Perhaps something similar has happened to you and you've felt the same way?


It's a pity because champagne is such a stylish drink; there's nothing quite like it to turn an ordinary occasion into something really special.


If only it could have been you coming out with the knowledgeable comments. You would have felt like a million dollars and it would have been YOU who people saw as the expert!

You'd feel more confident, a lot more relaxed and you'd enjoy your champagne more too.


Since those days I've learned a lot about champagne. I've lived here for over 10 years in all and I've tasted hundreds of different champagnes, so I should do, and those types of embarrassments don't happen these days.


I tell you that not to show off, but just to show you that it is possible to learn about champagne.


What's more you can now do it in a way that won't take you 10 years, or anything like it, which will give you the confidence that will make you feel stylish, relaxed and sophisticated AND give you so much more enjoyment from every single glass of champagne your drink from now on.

That's where MONICA comes in



MONICA  lives in Champagne too, not very far at all from where I live as a matter of fact, and she knows all there is to know about champagne.


Both MONICA and I are dedicated to showing you all the amazing treasures there are in Champagne – not just the big houses, glamourous though they are, but anyone can visit them.


We want to take you to places you'd never find on your own and introduce you to people you'd never meet.


MONICA can answer all your champagne questions and solve all your champagne problems.......


Like shopping for champagne....


Wouldn't it be great if, the next time you go into a wine shop, you actually know what you are looking for and why, instead of just buying the same of brands because they're the safe choice or  just relying on what the shop staff tell you.


All too often all they say is something like " Well it's really well balanced and it's a good price."


 Hmm, that doesn't really help much does it?


You're none the wiser really and you realise that the guy in the shop  knows no more than you do, if that.


·           How would it feel if you could confidently buy brands you'd never tried before in the knowledge that they were exactly what you were looking for?


·           How would you feel it you knew instinctively that the price you were paying was the 'proper' price, that you weren't paying over the odds for a brand name that wasn't worth it,and could tell whether or not that ' cheap' champagne was actually any good?


·          You'd save an awful lot of money, not to mention a lot of frustration and disappointment

So what do you do to learn more about champagne?


 In the past learning about wine or champagne has meant finding a lecture to attend, booking  the date, putting a date in your diary and then juggling your social life so you're free that day or night.


Then you find that an hour before you're due to leave work, your boss gives you a bit of urgent work to do right now, or the baby sitter calls to say she can't make it, or the dog's ill etc etc...


So you can't go to the lecture after all...  money wasted and loads of frustration.


Sometimes even if you do make it to the lecture things sometimes don't work out as you had hoped.


When you're in a room full of other people most of whom you've never met before you can't help thinking that they all know more than you do, so it can be just too embarrasing to put  your hand up and ask a question.


So you keep quiet hoping that someone else will ask you questions or that there'll be time at the end to speak to the lecturer privately – usually neither of these things happen and you never do get to ask that question which is a pity when you paid a lot of money to attend.


In short it can be such a pain going to a wine lecture not to mention the fact that some of them are still just so formal and stuffy.

Besides, you often find that the person who is lecturing you isn't really a champagne specialist, more of a wine generalist, and the last time she went to Champagne was goodness knows how many years ago.


With MONICA that's all different. You'll find she's a very approachable gal, loves you to ask questions and is available to chat to anytime you're free.


Plus... did I mention this before?... she actually lives in Champagne. She's spent 10 years here and she pretty much knows everything you'd ever want to know about champagne.


She travels a lot too. In fact she'll be very happy to visit you at home

you'll enjoy getting to know her.




MONICA is the only on-line course dedicated exclusively to champagne, and brought to you in a series of 14  video presentations that you can watch at your leisure and which are designed to open up a world of champagne that you never knew existed


MONICA will take you on a journey of discovery through Champagne that is unlike any other


Each presentation is around 20- 30 minutes long. Long enough to contain plenty of information but never long enough to get boring


 Here are just some of the topics covered


·           How to taste champagne so as to get the maximum flavour and pleasure


·           How to store and serve champagne to get the best possible experience every time


·           How to find your way round the maze of hundreds of champagnes – simple tips for finding good quality and great value for money.


·           How exactly is champagne made and what makes champagne so different from other sparkling wines anyway.


·           What makes one champagne different from another and, more importantly, how to find the ones you like best.


·           Vintage champagne, non-vintage, rosé, dry or sweet, old or young – discover exactly what makes each one special.


·           A guide to some of the 'great little' champagnes – some suggestions about champagne to seek out to enjoy the true champagne experience


And lots, lots more besides

How do you know if you'll like MONICA?


If you're a Champagne 'Débutant'

 then you'll get on like a house on fire with MONICA.


Her Cuvée Course is perfect for you.


You'll find that you can journey through the wonders of champagne in a series easy-to-follow on-line presentations illustrated with

·         maps

·         pictures and

·         commentary


that will build your confidence and increase your knowledge at the same time.


PLUS MONICA is always available on e-mail and is happy to reply to any e-mail questions you send her about champagne.


So, you'll never be worried about asking a 'stupid' question ever again.

You can ask any questions you like.

With MONICA there is no such thing as a stupid question.


In no time at all other people will be asking YOU the questions... AND you'll know the answer!



If you  already know quite a bit about champagne and are looking to take your knowledge to another level then you'll want to join the

 Prestige Course.


You'll love the extra inside information you'll find in every part of the course, including fascinating secrets that you simply wouldn't find out from anyone who doesn't live in Champagne.


You'll quickly and easily go from being a champagne enthusiast to a real expert and here's why:


In addition to the full content of the Cuvée course, you'll have access to something unique in the world of champagne.


MONICA has been out and about recording a whole

series of video and audio interviews with some of the leading figures in Champagne.


Here's a sample of the people and topics you can watch and learn about


·         Terrence Kenny, Export Director at Champagne Pannier, talking about Cooperatives and the role they play in Champagne.


·         Yuka Lagrange-Gansser, of Moët & Chandon on the Art of Entertaining with Champagne*


·         Aurélian Laherte of Laherte Frères on Bio Dynamic champagne. What is it and why you should try it


·         Pascal Tingaud, Head Chef at le Château de Saran on cooking with champagne.*


·         Steve Charters MW on champagne and other sparkling wines


*  To be confirmed


And many more unique champagne characters on subjects they are passionate about


·         If you're working in the bar, or restaurant trade or contemplating a career in the on-trade or in wine retailing you'll find that the champagne knowledge you'll gain from MONICA's Prestige course will put you far ahead of your peers.


·         If you are fascinated by champagne and have always suspected that there's much more to it than meets the eye, then this is for you too.


Short of coming to live here in Champagne with MONICA ( and she's already taken ) there's no other way you can obtain such a detailed insight into champagne, the wine, the people and the region.


AND OF COURSE, you also get to take advantage of the question and answer support facility at any time


But there's more too.....


When you enrol in the Prestige course you'll have priority booking for any of the Mad About Bubbly champagne events held here in Champagne.


These are very exclusive short breaks for real champagne lovers which will introduce you to the real heart of champagne that you can only find by meeting ' the locals'.


These prestigious events are always popular and because numbers are so limited you'll find it's really useful getting advance notice before places are offered to the general public


You'll receive 3 exclusive gifts sent direct to you from Champagne.


Not only will these super gifts be super useful, you'll not find them anywhere except in Champagne and it's guaranteed that your friends will want them too when they see them


Talking of guarantees, you have my promise that if at any time, for whatever reason, you want to stop receiving the weekly videos and have your money back then you'll be sent a prompt refund of the entire amount you paid with no questions asked


You can enrol NOW on the course of your choice and receive the first part of the course within minutes and start discovering what 99% of champagne drinkers never know.


That's a great question and of course tasting is a key part in learning about champagne...



For anyone living in the U.K. you'll have the chance to purchase, and have delivered direct to your door, the selection of champagnes that MONICA has chosen to illustrate the various styles and types of champagne you'll learn about as the course unfolds.


U.S.A. & Australia

In these two conuntries and in as many other countries as possible we've contacted local wine merchants whose details we will give you so that you can arrange local purchase.


Other countries

In other countries you'll receive a list of recommended champagnes to purchase and a description of their styles so that you can find similar alternatives in your home market.




MONICA believes that she's got just what every champagne lover is looking for


·         No need to book up for a lecture on a specific date and time.


·         No need to go out, rush dinner, get a baby sitter, drive home after drinking the samples.... in fact there


·         No hassle at all – you pick the time when it suits you to sit down and give your full attention to the wonderful subject of champagne!


·         No need to feel embarrassed that you're only just a beginner. Ask any question you want and no one except MONICA will ever know


Learning about champagne with MONICA is different


·         she's a friendly gal that will go at your pace and is available whenever you are, just click on the link and watch the video on your own computer

·         When there's something you want to go back over, just play the video again

·         Anytime you have any questions you want to ask it's easy just send her an e-mail – you can't say that for a traditional classroom type course

·         Plus a selection of amazing champagnes that illustrate the many styles available from this great region, are available for you to purchase and have delivered to your door, together, of ocurse with complete tasting notes*



How do you enrol on a course with MONICA?


To join MONICA's CUVEE  COURSE and become a champagne expert in a few short weeks  is USD 119.97


The PRESTIGE COURSE  for current and future champagne afficionados is USD 197.97


Here's a list of the features that you can enjoy from each course


Joining couldn't be simpler.


Just click on the button of your choice below and you'll be taken to the payment page. Once the payment is completed you'll be directed straight back to get started on the first video.


 Tick5A ) Yes Please MONICA I'm fascinated by champagne and I want to learn more from someone who's on-the-spot and can show me the real inside story, so count me in for your Cuvée Course


Tick5B ) MONICA, I want to learn as much as possible about champagne so the Prestige course is the one for me)




She's waiting to make your acquaintance and remember that if you are not entirely satisfied at any time, for whatever reason, you can choose to stop receiving the weekly videos and have your money back with no questions asked.


MONICA and I are looking forward to having you on board




Friday, July 16, 2010

Debate a Bubble - Nothing to do with champagne

Debate a Bubble - Nothing to do with champagne

Link to Debate a Bubble - Champagne News and Reviews

Nothing to do with champagne

Posted: 15 Jul 2010 12:15 PM PDT

TDF Route Barrée Just for a change here's a post that has nothing to do with champagne - well, almost nothing - it took place in Champagne.

Last week a couple of friends came over to stay and one of them is a keen cycling fan so he persuaded me to go and watch the Tour De France with him.

It so happens that it was passing through Reims and Epernay this year so it was only a 30 minute drive away and off we went. Actually we went beyond Epernay to a village called Orbaye l'Abbaye to avoid the crowds and for a better view because there's a hill on the exit to the village and the riders would inevitably be going slower (a little) on this climb.

I had no idea what to expect, but I had a lot of fun and I think I could get quite interested in following the TdF in future. Got some good pictures too including one of Lance Armstrong - more by luck than judgement I have to say.

Before the riders come along there's a sort of procession by all the companies sponsoring the Tour. It's called 'La Caravanne'

They all send all sorts of weirdly decorated cars along, playing music, throwing out freebies and even spraying the crowd with water - that was the Vittel float. Here are a few photos to give you a feel of what it was likeSkoda Car

Skoda are the official TdF car suppliers

Not this particular model, mind you.

Panache Float

It was really hot so a cool drink would have been good. At least this guy had a parasol.


A chicken-shaped car!

And now to the business end of things - the riders:

TDF Lance Armstrong and Georges Hincapie

Lance  Armstrong and George Hincapie

The Yellow JerseyYellow Jersey  

and last but not least, let's hear it for a courageous supporter from Australia who, on a sweltering day, was walking around in a koala outfit.

Still, coming from Australia, he probably thought it was a bit on the chilly side!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Some more great links!!