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Enjoying Wine and Beer in the Augusta GA area

Moët & Chandon Minis Make Celebrating Easy

Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut mini NV, France

Cost: $15-17

So if you managed to get all the way to Valentine’s Day without a good idea about what to get your sweetheart, don’t worry. I’m here to help.

Forgot about candy, flowers and jewelry, although those are all good options. If you really want to show your love, pop open a bottle of bubbly. Nothing says romance quite like Champagne or sparkling wine.

From the pop of the cork to the last fizzy bubble, drinking Champagne always feels like a celebration. Whether you are having dinner, or just a romantic get together in front of a blazing fire, sparkling wine makes it all better.

Sometimes people tell me they hate to open a bottle of Champagne because they can’t finish it all in one night. There are Champagne corks you can buy that will seal the leftover wine and bubbles for another day, but with my recommendation today you need never worry about that.

Look for individual-sized bottles, what the Moët & Chandon company calls a mini. We had two of these 187-ml bottles filled with Moët Imperial Brut, and they were perfect for my wife and I.

The Champagne is one I have been drinking for nearly 50 years. It used to be called White Star, but it was discontinued in 2009. Imperial is very similar and very good.

It is the house’s iconic Champagne, created in 1869. It is a golden yellow in the glass, with aromas of green apples and lemon with some minerality and a brioche component. It has a rich mouthfeel with peach, pear and apple flavors with a crisp acidity. Fine bubbles continue throughout the evening.

It is a fun, easy-to-drink Champagne that pulls a whole meal together.

Like most Champagnes it is a blend of three grapes: pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay. The blend changes slightly over time, but the range is 30-40 percent pinot noir for body, 30-40 percent pinot meunier for suppleness and 20-30 percent chardonnay for finesse.

The blend is created from more than 100 different wines, of which 20-30 percent are reserve wines to add complexity, maturity and constancy. Over the years the style has remained the same, focusing on bright fruitiness and seductive palate. It is a wine you can drink all night without getting an acid taste in your mouth.

It seems people around the world are discovering the delights of sparkling wine. Worldwide consumption has grown by around 40 percent in 10 years, faster than the growth of still wines. In the United States sales of sparkling wine nearly doubled from 2005 to 2016 and sales of foreign sparkling wines nearly tripled.

Moët touted the minis as the official Champagne of the Golden Globe awards gala, so you might have noticed all the bottles on the stars’ tables that night. You could grab some and have your own party for the Oscars or any other festive night. I want to have some on hand when all I want is one glass as an appetizer before dinner, or as a nice end to an evening.

The minis were first introduced as a “quarter bottle” in 1893. When air travel took off in the 1930s airlines began stocking them to serve passengers.

Serve Champagne thoroughly chilled, at 46-50 degrees. You can store this wine for a couple of years, but I wouldn’t keep it more than two or three.

One interesting thing I learned while researching this column is that Moët is pronounced with a consonant at the end (mo-WETT). I always pronounced it mow-AY. Even though the founder of the business was French, he came from Dutch heritage, and they pronounce the T at the end of the name.

Winery: Moët & Chandon is one of the most well-known Champagne houses, celebrating 276 years in business. It is also one of the largest, producing 28 million bottles of wine each year, far more than any other Champagne maker.

It was founded in 1743 by Epernay wine trader Claude Moët and named Moët et Cie, which means Moët & Co. He started shipping his wine to Paris and during the reign of King Louis XV, business took off. Everyone was drinking Champagne.

In 1833, the company was renamed Moët et Chandon after Pierre-Gabriel Chandon de Briailles, Remy Moët’s son-in-law, joined the company as a partner of Jean-Remy Moët, Claude Moët’s grandson.

Jean-Remy became famous as the man who introduced Champagne to the world, serving famous figures from the Marquise de Pompadour to Talleyrand to Napoleon, who all loved the house style.

Moët is responsible for many iconic actions associated with Champagne, from the sabering of bottles to the christening of ships. Even athletes spraying Champagne in celebration owe a debt to Moët. When Dan Gurney won the 24-hour Le Mans race in 1967 he took his Jeroboam of Moët & Chandon, shook it and sprayed everyone around him.

Moët also takes credit for the Champagne pyramid, the dazzling cascade of sparkling bubbles that lights up glamorous parties and receptions around the world.

Moët vineyards total 2,840 acres in rich chalk soil, 50 percent of which are grand cru and 25 percent premiers cru, the largest vineyard area in Champagne. Underground, the Moët & Chandon cellars are the most extensive in the region, extending more than 17 miles.

Combining tradition with new technology, the company continues to innovate, using the latest advances in sustainable farming.

Their latest creation is Moët Ice Imperial, the first Champagne created to be poured over ice. The company recommends pouring it in large Bordeaux-style glasses, adding fruit, mint, ginger or other flavorings. It appears to be marketed to Millennials, the generation just learning about wine.

Champagne makes every meal feel festive.

Goes with: We had this delicious Champagne with what I consider a special meal, roast duck. Even if it is easy to cook, the duck comes out like a restaurant meal.

The rich, flavorful duck meat is perfect with Champagne. While Champagne goes with just about any food, it seems to offer something even more with duck.

I added potato dumplings I had left over from a previous meal, cooked some sauerkraut, and I had a good, old-fashioned Czech meal. It’s a meal I only had in restaurants when I was growing up because duck is so full of fat it’s hard to cook.

But today I buy a frozen half duck, already cooked. All you have to do is heat it up for about 10 minutes per side. With most of the fat cooked off the first time around, there are no flareups in the grill or messy grease spots in the oven.

I really liked the Champagne with this meal because sauerkraut is notoriously difficult to pair with wine. The sparkles weren’t overpowered by the sauerkraut and the fruit in the wine matched the duck nicely.

This wine also will pair well with a wide array of foods, from a delicate seafood appetizer to spicy Latin or Asian food. The Moët is perfect with most desserts and even a simple plate of fruit.

If you have questions about wine you can email Dennis Sodomka at dennis@bottlereport.com

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