What better way to add that extra sparkle to your Christmas or New Year celebration than with champagne?
Connoisseur George Hadjikyriakos, the Managing Director of Spectus Wine & Spirits Merchants, recently shared some of his expert advice with The Cyprus Weekly, suggesting quality champagne as the best complement to any festive meal.
“A champagne with a good, full body is definitely the best way to start off,” Hadjikyriakos said, adding that a quality champagne could be used throughout the meal.
A more crisis-conscious choice would be a sparkling white wine, again with attention paid to a full-bodied variety, he continued, adding that this was also the most important criterion when it came to the selection of non-sparkling white wines.
“For those who prefer red wine at this time of year, I would suggest Bordeaux or Burgundy varieties. Burgundy wine in particular is known as having been a favourite of the aristocracy,” Hadjikyriakos noted.
Italy also provides excellent choices, he continued, while New World wines were another attractive alternative, encompassing possibilities from Argentina, the USA, Chile and Australia.
Port would make an excellent accompaniment after dessert and particularly if quality cheese such as blue cheese is being served.
Rose varieties are also considered to be particularly festive and when it comes to a gift for your host and hostess, Hadjikyriakos once again recommends champagne.
“Here at Spectus we have something for every pocket from under €10 to €10,000,” he said, adding that a beverage’s lower price did not necessarily mean it lacked quality.
Hadjikyriakos also noted that the Cypriot palate had become more refined over the years.
“Different wines suit different dishes, you will not serve the same thing with gammon as you would with the traditional souvla so this is something to keep in mind,” he said.
Hadjikyriakos also noted that while there were many good Cypriot wines, they shared many similarities, meaning hosts would do well to consider exploring makes from across the seas to find an alcoholic beverage to best suit the rest of the meal.
Did you know?
Champagne was a region long before it was a sparkling wine. The region lies at a crossroads of northern Europe – the river valleys leading south to the Mediterranean and north to Paris, the English Channel and Western Germany – and thus has been the setting of many dramatic events in the history of the French nation. As a convenient access point, it has been for hundreds of years, the chosen path of many invaders.
The monasteries in Champagne with the economic assistance of the crown, were to make wine production a serious venture until the French Revolution in 1789.
Before the mid-1600’s there was no Champagne as we think of it. For centuries the wines were still wines and were held in high regard by the nobility of Europe. But the cool climate of the region and its effect on the wine making process was to play an important part in changing all of that.
The bubbles in the wine are a natural process arising from Champagne’s cold climate and short growing season. Out of necessity, the grapes are picked late in the year. This doesn’t leave enough time for the yeast present on the grape skins to convert the sugar in the pressed grape juice into alcohol before the cold winter temperatures put a temporary stop to the fermentation process. With the coming of spring’s warmer temperatures, the fermentation is again underway, but this time in the bottle. The re-fermentation creates carbon-dioxide which now becomes trapped in the bottle, thereby creating the sparkle.
To be called champagne, a bottle must come exclusively from the Champagne region of France.
Bubbly from all other regions in the world is simply referred to as “sparkling wine”, though there are many regional specialties. Spain’s sparkler is called Cava, Italy’s bubbles come in Prosecco and Moscato d’Asti, and French sparkling wines from everywhere outside Champagne are referred to as Cremant.
Burgundy and Bordeaux are also both regions in France as well as referring to the variety of wines made in those regions.
Bordeaux is best known for its reds, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot-based wines, blended with support from Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.
White Bordeaux, or Bordeaux blanc, is primarily a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. There are also Sauternes, dessert wines that come from Bordeaux.
Burgundy is known equally for its white and red wines. The main grape varieties are Chardonnay (white Burgundy) and Pinot Noir (red Burgundy).
Port wine, also known as Vinho do Porto (and often simply port) is a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal.
It is typically a sweet, red wine, often served as a dessert wine though it also comes in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties. Fortified wines in the style of port are also produced outside Portugal, most notably in Australia, South Africa, Canada, India, Argentina, and the USA. Under European Union Protected Designation of Origin guidelines, only the product from Portugal may be labelled as port or Porto.