It's National Champagne Day!!

Yes, there's a day for everything and today just happens to be Champagne Day!

Some facts about Champagne:
  • The term Champagne only refers to those wines from the Champagne region of France. The sparkling cavas, bruts, spumantes and more should not be labeled Champagne but often are referred to in that way. Instead, in 2005 a court ruled that the term méthode traditionnelle should be used in those cases. (Sidenote: "In 2008, more than 3000 bottles of sparkling wine produced in California labelled with the term "Champagne" were destroyed by Belgian government authorities." - Wikipedia)
  • Méthode Champenoise is the traditional method by which Champagne is produced. The second fermentation that occurs includes several grams of yeast and sugar. Again, there are more rules stating that it must sit for 1.5 years to get the proper flavor. After that time has passed, the bottles are then "riddled" meaning the lees settle in the neck of the bottle by being placed on a slant. The bottle is then chilled, the neck is frozen and the cap is replaced with a cork, sealing in all the carbon dioxide.
  • Most modern Champagnes are non-vintage (NV) meaning that the grapes in the bottle are blends of different vintages. There is a such thing as Vintage Champagne which consists of at least 85% of the grapes from one vintage.
  • There's 3 classifications of Champagne: Prestige Cuveé, Blanc de Noirs, Blanc de Blanc. The prestige cuveé is the high end selection from the producer (Moet & Chandon Dom Pérignon, Louis Roederer Cristal, etc). Blanc de Noirs means "white from black" literally so the juice is from black grapes. The typical grapes used are Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier or a blend of the two. Blanc de Blanc is the easily enough "white from white". The only grape in a Blanc de blanc is the Chardonnay grape.
  • Rosé Champagne or "Pink Champagne" starts the same way Blanc de Noirs do but the grape skins sit with the juice longer to make it a pinkish color (macerate) or a little bit of Pinot Noir or cuveé wine is added.
  • Obviously the amount of sugar determines the sweetness. There are 3 classifications: Brut natural (<3 grams of sugar/liter), Extra Brut (<6 grams of sugar/liter), and the most commonly seen Brut (<12 grams of sugar/liter).

So enjoy a bottle of your favorite French bubbly, or explore and find a new one! Just be sure it's true Champagne. It's worth it to indulge sometimes ;)


In the Kitchen with Mark Krieger

Planning events for both Young Winos of DC and French Wine Social allows me to meet a lot of local business owners, especially wine stores and bars. Well this sunny, unusually warm Fall day was not the typical meet and greet.

Slate Wine Bar recently opened just 51 days ago! Having interest in hosting an event there, Mark invited me to stop by and discuss. Now usually these types of meetings are very basic, here's what we offer, what are you looking for, etc. Well not Mark!

Upon walking in, I noticed the well-lit bar area with porcelain floor, reclaimed wood bar, and shiny granite table top. The cozy dining room had exposed brick, white linen table cloths and a collection of antique corkscrews that adorned the walls. Then out pops Mark from the kitchen. He explained so much about the newly opened space from the time it took to get the place up and running to the recipes to meeting the staff. Talk about a welcome!

We took a tour of every inch, literally. I was in the walk in freezer to see the cheese and meat selection to the private space loft to the bathroom to admiring the antique corkscrews and then back into the kitchen. This is one place that has a ton of thought put into it. Who would ever think to get bar stools for the high-top tables that swivel and adjust height so everyone can be comfortable? And most people want fresh cracked pepper with their dishes so every table has their own. And you won't find paper on top of the tables, nope just clean fresh linens every time. It's all in the details. Some so small, we hardly notice on a regular basis.

Then the fun! They were making a ton of meatballs for a private event and I got to taste test them. But with meatballs comes marinara and guess who's job that was...This girl! The marinara recipe is simple: tomatoes, paste, oregano, garlic, oil, pepper. I was even handed over the HUGE immersion blender. Of course I wore white on this particular day so I was given a chef's jacket to keep my work clothes clean because ya know, I did have to go back to work :(

Mark has poured his heart and soul into this place and it shows! From the details to the menu to the friendly staff and decor, Slate Wine Bar is not a place to be overlooked. They have daily wine and food specials on the chalkboard that change everyday. The food selection is even paired with the daily wine selection, no thought needed!

This place has all the things to make it a new favorite (as written about in my last post). You can betcha I'll be back very soon. Oh, and Ripple, you may have been replaced! ;) Just kiddin' there's enough love to go around.