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Food & Drinks

Enjoy Champagne Neat, Don’t Make a Cocktail This Easter

Alexandre Helaine
Alexandre Helaine, the market manager, Eastern Africa, Moët-Hennessy, Kenya. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Some people say the best champagne cocktail has a mixture of liquor, juice and lemon. Well, Alexandre Helaine, the market manager, Eastern Africa, Moët-Hennessy, says Moët & Chandon champagnes are too delicate and he does not recommend using it to make mimosas.

“This champagne is sophisticated and on top of that, it is so delicate that mixing it with something like orange juice to make a mimosa (cocktail) would end up interfering with its original flavours, something which I would not recommend,” he says.

Even when pairing with food, he says, champagne should be served with foods that do not have a strong flavour.

“Make sure not to serve with foods that are heavy on spices and if there are any sauces involved, ensure they are light sauces,” he adds.

Champagne take-up in Kenya has grown over the years.

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Mr Helaine says that a few years ago many people did not understand why they had to pay so much for just one bottle.

“The price is high because one bottle of champagne takes a total of three years to mature.

And the quality of the grapes used are the most expensive in the world. Furthermore, the process from vineyard to bottle is also expensive,” he says.

Quality

If you are serving champagne this holiday, make sure you are not duped into buying a poor quality one.

Here are some tips he shares to help you differentiate good quality champagne from poor quality.

Good quality champagne should have some bread or wheat notes, specifically brioche. The smell and taste are very specific to each champagne.

The density of the bubbles is another factor to check. If the champagne forms a lot of bubbles and foam then know, it is not good quality.

Thin bubbles and less foam are clear indicators for a good quality champagne
The bubbles also need to rise for a long period because if they don’t then it means the wine had gas added to it, hence making it an artificially enhanced champagne.

The other thing is the colour. It should be a mild yellowish gold colour that is attributed to the maturation process.

The aftertaste that is normally felt at the back of your throat should be of bread, freshness, some acidity and fruitiness.

“A popped bottle of champagne needs to be taken immediately and should not be saved for later. Just like any other wine, champagne can be taken during all meal times, from breakfast to lunch to dinner. It is taken to celebrate any moment and not just an occasion,” he says.

And one more thing, Mr Helaine says champagne is not restricted to celebrations only.

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