How many bubbles should there be in a quality sparkling wine?

One huge lover of sparkling wines, who also happened to be an engineer, has counted 49 million bubbles in a bottle of quality sparkling wine. Surely, you shouldn’t start counting them, for there is another – visual – method of evaluating sparkling wines.

There is a term called perlage. Winemakers use this word to describe the pattern and intensity of effervescence in sparkling wines. If the wine is ‘right’, you will see the streams of ‘fine pearl strands’ unceasingly rising from the bottom of the glass. On the other hand, if a sparkling wine you just poured into the glass ‘bursts’ with a disarray of large bubbles ‘shooting’ chaotically to the surface and immediately rising into the air, and right before your eyes in a matter of seconds the wine turns from sparkling to still, it probably wasn’t your best choice of a sparkling wine.

Don’t be put off by a screw cap

When buying wine in a store, don’t be put off by a screw cap. Screw caps are used everywhere today, becoming a trendy attribute. For instance, New Zealand sells 90% of its wines under a screw cap. This cap is often found on wines produced in the Old World as well, particularly in France and Spain. The screw cap serves as an excellent alternative to cork and is used to close young and fresh wines not intended for long aging. Although in 2004, the Burgundian winemaker Jean-Claude Boisset tasted a wine that spent the whole 36 years under the screw cap. It was a 1966 Mercurey, and it was preserved in an excellent state.

An ideal choice to wash down fatty food

If you like fatty foods, make your choice in favor of high-acid wines. These could be still rosé and red wines (Cabernet or Cabernet Sauvignon), still white (e.g. Chardonnay) or sparkling wines (brut or extra brut). Light young high-acid white wines or flavored wines with vivid fruit tones (Sauvignon Blanc) will be excellent with fatty fish. The same principle applies to spicy foods: the higher acidity a wine has, the better it goes with the dish.

The best wine for your picnic

Rosé wine is an excellent choice for a picnic, because it goes equally well with meat, fish, and fruits. When buying a rosé wine, keep in mind that, for instance, Californian wines are sweeter than European and Spanish ones and are more bodied than French. Most importantly, look at the production year: the younger a wine is, the more likely it will be easy to drink. However, if you won’t cool it down to 8-10 degrees, even the young wine will lose freshness. The most famous French rosé wines are produced in Tavel, Provence, and Languedoc-Roussillon regions. In Spain, the best rosé wines come from Navarra and Rioja. The most outstanding Italian rosé wines originate from Tuscany, and the best Ukrainian-produced ‘rosé’ is born in the Odessa Region, Shabo terroir.

Too much sweetness won’t spoil the sweet

Sweet wine is the right choice for a dessert, because a dry beverage combined with the sweetness of a dish will attain even drier and a more ‘rubbery’ taste. There are many sweet dessert wines: Port wine, Sauternes, Tokaji, Eiswein, Madera, sweet sparkling wines. Particular choice depends on personal preferences, but the experts say that the sweeter and thicker a dessert is, the sweeter and thicker a wine should be.

Medals don’t get it wrong

When choosing wine in a store, look at the medals on the label. There is a number of international contests and ratings that could suggest the right choice. Among the most important of them are: Concours Mondial du Bruxelles, Decanter World Wine Awards, International Wine Challenge, Mundus Vini, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast.

Lemon is no match for brandy

If you drink an expensive, quality brandy, don’t spoil its taste with lemon. Despite the serving that has already become a tradition in our country, citrus ‘jams’ the beverage’s taste and doesn’t let its bouquet open up. This strong alcoholic beverage goes best with chocolate, cigar, and coffee (the rule of four Сs: cognac: coffee, cigar, chocolate). However, don’t limit your choices, for brandy can be drunk alone or with meat (especially game and lamb); salads, cheese, and desserts (ice-cream, fruits) will be fine as well.

As for lemon with sugar, this serving is popularly called ‘nikolashka’. According to legend, that was how Russian emperor Nicholas I drank brandy. To hide the liquor from his wife, he poured it from a teapot into a cup and drank it with lemon and sugar, pretending that it was tea.

Choosing quality brandy

When choosing brandy in a store, you can do a little quality test: turn the bottle upside down, and you should see a large, thick drop falling down. If the drops are running along the sides (do not confuse them with the ‘tears’ running down the drinking glass), the beverage you’re holding is not of the best quality. Also, pay attention to the purity of the beverage’s color: it should not be turbid or have sediments.

Express cooling secrets

If you need to cool a beverage fast, wrap the bottle in paper (for example, newspaper), soak it in water and put in a fridge for 10-15 minutes. If you use a cooler, don’t forget to fill it with not only ice, but also water; as for the bottle itself, don’t just put it on the top of this ice-and-water mix but ‘bury’ it inside – this way, the bottle’s content will cool down faster. Just do not dilute the noble beverage with ice or cold water.


Wine serving temperatures:
– rich, aged red wines: from 17°С to 19°С;
– light red wines: from 12°С to 17°С;
– sweet red wines: from 12°С to 14°С;
– young wines: from 12°С to 14°С;
– dry white wines: from 8°С to 10°С;
– young white, rosé wines: from 6°С to 8°С;
– sparkling wines: from 4°С to 8°С.

Tasting vodka

How to drink vodka the right way is not a question for Slavs: breathe out, gulp down and have a bite of bread crust, pickle, salo, herring or black caviar. However, that’s not always the only right way. For instance, outside Ukraine there is a totally different culture of drinking this beverage: foreigners like to taste vodka, sipping it. The reason for that stems from the beverage’s taste characteristics: while grain vodkas should not have taste, their grape counterparts, on the contrary, simply must have it. If there is a taste, it should be felt and one must enjoy it, not deprive oneself of the pleasure. A good grape vodka is so pure, aromatic and tasty, that sometimes it doesn’t even need a snack to go with it. In that case, you should drink it in reasonable quantities. After all, it is 80 proof!