Champagne for Dummies
The "Dummies" series is well known for its easy to read text, clear diagrams, and well marked tips. The "Champagne for Dummies" is a welcome addition to the group! The text and graphics help make the ins and outs of Champagne clear to anyone interested in this fun, bubbly drink.
The book goes through a background of the drink, the history and legends, and then settles into the meaty material. It gives an overview of the four regions of Champagne - Montagne de Reims, Cote des Blancs, Vallee de la Marne, and the Aube (or Cote des Bar). It describes how the vineyards are classified by quality. Unlike some other regions, the last classification was done as recently as 1985. There are 17 Grand Cru vineyards and 40 Premiere Crus. Most wineries use grapes from a variety of vineyards; only the smaller wineries can typically claim to have grapes from only Grand Cru or Premiere Cru vineyards.
"Champagne for Dummies" goes deeply into what Mr. McCarthy has selected as the top 25 Champagne houses. This section is so detailed that it is broken into two chapters. Each house is described fully, with notes on the history of the house, current situation, and best buys to watch for.
The book describes what other growers, cooperatives, and organizations exist in the world of Champagne. It goes over the role each plays in getting the Champagne into the hands of the consumer.
Then the all important hands-on information is given. Be sure to buy Champagne from a shop with quick sales, so you can get the wine fresh. This helps ensure it has not suffered heat problems while waiting for your purchase. Buy from a temperature controlled shop, and don't buy at the end of the summer, where the wine was delivered and held during the hotter months. Also, don't store your wine in the fridge for more than a few weeks. This can harm Champagne, or any wine for that matter.
Champagne should be served in narrow flute glasses, at around 45 - 48F. It goes well with shellfish, oysters, and with light cheeses.
Information is given on visiting the Champagne region of France, giving advice on where to stay and where to eat. At the end, some details are given on non-French sparkling wines - the sparklers from California and Australia, Asti from Italy, and Cava from Spain. The book ends with a directory of Champagne wineries, a vintage chart, and glossary.
I enjoy the Wine Dummies series a great deal. This one would definitely be a great help for someone wishing to learn more about Champagne!
Author: Ed McCarthy
Publisher: I D G Books
ISBN Number: 0764552163
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