Your New Year’s Project: Build a Champagne Tower

There is no more sure-fire way to dazzle (and maybe drizzle) your New Year’s Eve party guests than with a do-it-yourself Champagne tower. You’ll need cheap, wide coupes—a lot of them—that are all identical. Rent them or clean out your local thrift shop, and then find a sturdy base (hint: your wobbly card table is not a good idea). Next, build your tower, starting with a minimum of four-by-four glasses for the base, three-by-three above, then two-by-two and a single glass on top. Pop open the Champagne and start pouring from the top, letting it overflow. For a basic 30-glass tower you’ll need a half case, figuring 5 glasses/bottle if you pour carefully. Take lots of photos and tweet on!

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Champagne Etiquette

Huffpost offers some Emily Post-style guidance for serving your holiday sparkling wines. Remember, only sparkling wine from Champagne is entitled to be called Champagne. Anything else is bubbly, fizz or just sparkling wine. Be confident that you know how to open these wines safely, and with a certain amount of pizzazz. Leave the sabering to a real expert, or be sure to wear body armor. And have a toast ready—here’s a selection to get you started.


In the Trade

Cabernet Sauvignon Is King In China

A Chinese government report, summarized in Decanter, notes that Cabernet Sauvignon is the key variety planted across many of China’s young wine regions, but experts warn that the grape variety “can’t be a perfect fit everywhere.” Also popular are Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah and Chardonnay. Total vinifera acreage is about 10 percent of all land under vine—the vast majority of which is used for table grapes.

Ningxia has been named as China’s most promising fine wine region, while the top three grape-supplying Chinese wine regions are Xinjiang, Shandong and Hebei. But experts warn that China’s best wine regions, and the most suitable grape varieties for them, are still a work in progress.

The Fine Wine Market Stabilizes

The worst may be over for the fine wine market after a flat 2015. The Liv-ex Fine Wine 100 Index has been running in the red for the past four years, but seems on track to halt its slide. Liv-ex reports that “while market sentiment definitely remains on the side of caution as we move into 2016, the leveling off of the Liv-ex indices this year has at least broken the downward cycle of previous years.”

Bordeaux lost more ground in 2015, but the overall fine wine market has shown greater stability. Despite the continued sinking of the Bordeaux market, rising prices for the Burgundy, Italian, Champagne and “Rest of the World” indices has brought some welcome positive trending.

Bordeaux still represented about three quarters of trades by value on Liv-ex in 2015, but its drop from a nearly 90 percent share a few years ago reflects ongoing consumer uncertainty over prices for recent vintages. Meanwhile, the Burgundy 150 and Rest of the World 50 (sub-indices of the Fine Wine 1000) both reached record highs this year. Italy and Champagne have overtaken Burgundy as the most traded regions behind Bordeaux with the U.S. market also surging, building its market share to 2.1 percent on the back of strong price performances by Scarecrow and Screaming Eagle. U.S. brands now almost rival the Rhône’s 2.3 percent market share.

Signs Favor A Wet Winter For California

Water Deeply reports that the latest long-range National Weather Service forecast calls for above-normal precipitation for California through March, thanks to El Niño. It’s welcome news, but comes with a cautionary note. Along with the projected moisture comes a forecast for warmer than normal temperatures, especially in the northern mountains.

These warmer temperatures mean that most of the extra precipitation will fall as rain rather than snow. While this may help refill California’s reservoirs in the immediate future, it also forecasts a thinner Sierra Nevada snowpack, crucial to the year-round water supply, and casts doubt on any long-term end to the drought.

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Published on December 28, 2015
Topics: Entertaining Tips, Industry News, Wine Trends + News
About the Author
Paul Gregutt
Contributing Editor

Reviews wines from Oregon and Canada.

Paul Gregutt is a Contributing Editor for Wine Enthusiast magazine, a founding member of the magazine’s Tasting Panel, and reviews the wines of Oregon and Canada. The author of the critically-acclaimed Washington Wines & Wineries—The Essential Guide, he consulted on the Pacific Northwest entries in current versions of The World Atlas of Wine and The Oxford Companion to Wine.

Email: paulgwine@me.com.




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