The Wine Merchants since 1802
CHAMPAGNE: OPENING & BOTTLE SIZES (AND BIBLE CLASSES)
Opening Champagne can sometimes be principally about spraying everyone in sight in true racing driver style but if you appreciate the liquid on the inside rather than the outside then proceed as follows. Make sure the bottle has settled and has not been subject to agitation before opening. Although Champagne is delicious chilled, a large difference between the bottle temperature and the room may lead to more lively proceedings than are ideal, and an uncontrolled cork can come out at a high velocity - enough to cause injury, so one should never point the cork at people. Remove the foil that surrounds the wire cage (this was once lead lined and had the practical purpose of preventing mice from gnawing through the cork) and then carefully remove the wire cage or muzzle. Put the palm of your hand - or certainly your thumb - over the top of the cork to prevent it flying off unexpectedly and then with one hand over the cork and the other on the base of the bottle twist the bottle slowly and gently whilst gradually easing the cork from the top of the bottle. The cork should not come out with an explosive bang but with a gentle maiden's sigh!
CHAMPAGNE BOTTLE SIZES
If proof were needed that Champagne was originally made by French monks, the bewildering bottle size terminology certainly leaves no doubt. This conjures up a whole new meaning for Bible Classes!
NABUCHODONOSOR - this is the Latinate spelling (King of Babylon)
NEBUCHADNEZZAR - this is the anglicised equivalent.
20 Bottles (15 Litres)
BALTHAZAR (Regent of Babylon)
16 Bottles (12 Litres)
SALMANAZAR (King of Syria)
12 Bottles (9 Litres)
MATHUSALEM (Biblical Patriarch)
8 Bottles (6 Litres)
REHOBOAM (King of Judah)
6 Bottles (4.5 Litres)
JEROBOAM (Biblical Founder of Israel)
4 Bottles (3 Litres)
MAGNUM (Just well er Big)
2 Bottles (1.5 Litres)
(0.1875 or 0.20 Litre)
EIGHTH of a BOTTLE
It is as well to note that, apart from bottles and magnums, suppliers tend to decant from bottles into other sizes rather than maturing the Champagne directly in the larger or smaller bottles.