Champagne Appreciation

Explore French bubbly through educational classes, tastings and more

Champagne Appreciation
The Charleston Place hotel sabers bottles of bubbly to mark guests’ special occasions. (Kirk Robert)
From the Dec 15, 2022, issue

At some point, most serious Champagne drinkers move beyond a simple thirst for the wine in the glass to a thirst for knowledge about what goes into the making of the wines they love. Comparative tastings backed by shared insight from an informative pourer is both a pleasurable and educational path toward a greater understanding of Champagne.

Ocean House

1 Bluff Ave., Watch Hill, R.I.
Best of Award of Excellence

Established in 1868, Ocean House is a grande dame among New England lodgings. It draws guests old and new with its luxury accommodations, beautiful grounds, dining, spa and resort activities. Guests wishing to learn more about Bollinger’s La Grande Année as well as other prestige cuvées ranging from Veuve Clicquot's La Grande Dame to Cristal to Armand de Brignac’s Ace of Spades, can join the resort’s private seminar “A Study of Champagne, Tête de Cuvées.” The class includes a tasting of five wines as well as an overview of the history and geography of the Champagne region and the production of its wines. An added bonus is a hands-on demonstration in the art of sabrage, removing the top of a Champagne bottle, including cork and cage, in one swift slice of a saber or knife. (Cost is $800 per person; confirm availability with the hotel directly.)


The Charleston Place

205 Meeting St., Charleston, S.C.
Best of Award of Excellence

If you’re not ready to take the saber into your own hands, head to this Charleston hotel for your next special occasion. A well-timed whisper to the concierge or desk clerk may result in the sabering of a bottle of Champagne in honor of your event. “When the opportunity arises, we like to commemorate special occasions for our guests, or for the community, with a bottle of Champagne being sabered in the lobby of the hotel,” says Andrew Marshall, wine director at the hotel’s Charleston Grill restaurant. After consumption, the bottle’s razor-sharp edge is dipped in wax and imprinted with the hotel’s crest, then presented to the lucky guests packaged with Champagne glasses. “We have celebrated anniversaries, wedding days and special guests to Charleston,” he adds.


Pappas Bros. Steakhouse

10477 Lombardy Lane, Dallas; 5839 Westheimer Road, Houston; 1200 McKinney St., Houston
Grand Award

At the Pappas Bros. Steakhouse locations in Texas, big California Cabernets are the favored pairing for guests setting their sights on the dry-aged steaks. But executive wine director Steven McDonald promotes the broader world of wine both at the table and via monthly walk-around wine tastings. Every December, the tasting naturally features Champagne paired with a selection of small bites. “We try to champion boutique wines and show our guests something unique that they’re not likely to get anywhere else in our respective markets,” says McDonald. “But we also show grandes marques that we believe are making incredible wines.”


Montage Big Sky

995 Settlement Trail, Big Sky, Mont.

This luxury ski resort just outside Yellowstone Park takes après ski to new heights this winter with its collaboration with Veuve Clicquot. The property’s open-air Backcast Bar & Grill will offer “La Grande Après,” including pairing Veuve’s 2015 La Grande Dame with caviar service as well as a full menu of rustic, mountainside dishes. And while a glass of La Grande Dame is not specifically offered after "Headlamp Night Skiing" or custom cowboy hat creation from Montana Territory Hat Company milliner Courtney Green, Champagne-loving skiers will easily find a way to connect the activities.

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