Traditionally, champagne is meant to be sipped out of flute glasses to celebrate big occasions. Or, maybe, it can be mixed with orange juice for a Sunday-brunch treat.
But, does champagne belong poured over ice in a cocktail glass? The answer is yes, according to some of the world’s most prestigious bubbly brands.
In 2015, world-famous champagne maker Veuve Clicquot announced the release of RICH, a variety of bubbles that’s – gulp – made for mixing.
The RICH variety is not nearly as dry as orange-label stuff we’ll splurge to enjoy on special occasions. It’s a sweeter style than what we’re used to, and it’s meant to be served in a wide-mouthed glass with plenty of ice. When Veronique Gonneville, the national brand manager for Veuve Clicquot at Charlton-Hobbs, led a tasting at Edmonton’s North 53 a few months ago, some simple lessons were offered on how to enhance the champagne experience.
Spicing Things Up
The first option was to slice bell peppers and put them in the glass with a ice, then pour in the sweet champagne. The bite from the peppers counteracted the sweetness, and you could sense a fire-and-ice thing happening. In fact, I think this would work even better with a spicier variety of pepper.
Another option was to pour the champagne through a net filled with Earl Grey tea leaves.
Will champagne made for mixing find a market in Canada? Gonneville said the first shipment sold out quickly.
“I am glad to say that the reaction has been amazing,” she said.
At Wildflower, bubbly is mixed with candied ginger for its Platinum Ginger drink. But even more complex is the Elderberry Fizz, which features port, St-Germain (an elderflower liqueur), Campari and Summerhill Cipes Brut, an Okanagan sparkling wine. Remember: If it’s not from the Champagne region of France, you can’t call it champagne.
The champagne and port together create a dark, sweet cherry taste, with a hint of grape Crush. There’s dangerously little bite from the alcohol. It’s the kind of cocktail that sees sips turn into fairly large gulps.
Earl Grey Champagne
Courtesy of Veronique Gonneville, national brand manager, Veuve Clicquot
1 bar strainer
Loose leaf Earl Grey tea (tsp for every 4 oz.of champagne)
Fill a large glass almost halfway with ice. Place the loose leaf tea in the strainer and hold it over the glass. Pour the champagne slowly through the strainer and into the glass. Follow Gonneville’s advice: “The slower you do it, the more flavours you are extracting from the cold infusion.” The same tea leaves can be used for three or four glasses of champagne.