Thursday, December 29, 2011

Where Good Champagnes Go when they Die

We polished off the lasr bottle of 1990 Acacia Champagne on Christmas day and acquired a bit of an education in the process.  Mrs. B. and her buddy Marian had split a case of it a few years back and one of the bottles had wandered off into a far corner where it surfaced only this month--too late, in other words, for any likelihood of decent drinkability. Champagnes, like their owners, do not live forever and there comes  time when the only decent course is a kind of champagne euthanasia.

So we popped the cork and got our first surprise: it had changed color.  A purist would say it had "discolored," but that's too judgement.  We did have, in lieu of the familiar light yellow, a faint auburn or bronzy hue--in short, a lot like sherry.  Or rather, essentially like sherry: what we had here was a kind of bubbly champagne/sherry, with a bit of the taste and the charm of each of it ancestors.

The secret (per Marian, who speaks with more authority than we do): oxygen.  Apparently lots of sherries retain oxygen which, given time and quantity, promote a kind of aging--just as it does, dear reader, with you.  Usually it's a mistake, something fit to be dumped down the drain. But there are a number of sherries  in which the producer actually encourages the process, so as to give the product a tang all its own.  With just a hint of Yule log.  So, skoal!  No, wait, Hа здоровье!  Ah, well, you get the idea... 

1 comment:

Ebenezer Scrooge said...

The Brits like oxidized champagne. (I'm no Anglophile, but so do I.) The French call it the gout Anglaise, no doubt with the same opprobrium that they have for the English pox.

But then again, the Russians like it sweet. (The champagne, not the pox!) Or at least they did back in the Imperial days.