Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Oooh, Daddy - What A Big Bottle of Champagne You Have!

Being a very minor dissertation on Champagne, being a subject I knew very little about as I was too busy drinking it (or my other friend sparkling prosecco) to read up on it.  I have been drinking champagne since Andre was $2 a bottle and now it's $5.49.  In fairness to Bon Appetit (more often scorned than lauded here)  they triggered this latent interest with a graph that lists the bigger-sized bottles, along with the equivalent numbers of 750 ml bottles and number of glasses served.

Magnum - 1.5 ltrs, 2 bottles wine and  a measly 10 glasses.
Double Magnum - 3 ltrs or 4 bottles of wine and 20 glasses
Jeroboam - 4.5 ltrs, 6 bottles of wine and 30 glasses
Imperial - 6 ltrs or 8 bottles of wine and 40 glasses
Salmanazar - 9 ltrs 12 bottles of wine and 60 glasses
Balthazar - 12 ltrs 16 bottles of wine and 80 glasses
Nebuchadnezzar - 15 ltrs, 20 bottles of wine and 100 glasses
Solomon - ? ltrs and 24 bottles*
Primate - ? litres and 36 glasses*
*  Apologies, several Web sites were consulted and information was sometimes contradictory as you will see with -

Weights -
Nebuchadnezzar 83.5 lbs.
Solomon 94.4 lbs.
Primate 143 lbs.

If the sommelier was an off-duty weight lifter, clever with his hands ... maybe.  Recommended though was a two man team - one to hold up the bottle base, the other to direct the flow.  Happily, there is a tool available.  It's called a VCanter and consists of a rack on a sturdy base.  The rack can be adjusted to hold varied size bottles by a crank (included.)

Prices I ran across - Moet  and Chandon Nebuchadnezzar 3999.99 EUROS
Veuve Cliquot Balthazar 96 glasses  $999.99 EUROS

Speaking of weights and sizes, one article recommended opening and decanting a Nebuchadnezzar, but to sabre the top off of a Jeroboam.  The Portuguese open a bottle of port by applying redhot tongs to the neck and crunching and this was suggested for champagne, too.  Another person suggested tying a lighter fluid-soaked string around the bottle neck and setting it on fire. 

Which brings us to the manly art of using a sword to open a very big bottle of wine.  The sommelier holds the bottle at a 20 degree angle away from himself and crashes the flat side of a sword or the dull edge of a large knife where the lip joins the neck and BOOP!  The bottle is uncorked.  I would caution that if you see a sommelier gearing up to do this, get under your table.  Corks can fly anywhere from 16 to 33 feet. 

Sabre opening records - number of bottles sabred in one minute by a group:  66 in 2015, 630 in 2016. Clearly this contest took off big time.

The physics of a champagne bottle were:  the inside pressure is 90 psi, the diameter of the neck is 0.71 so there is 36 lbs. trying to uncork itself.   Or so I read. 

Famous Bottle Sales (or Gossip)
Mark Cuban bought a 15-litre (10 magnums) Nebuchadnezzar in 2011 to celebrate an NBA championship.  It cost $90,000.

The Boston Bruins then bought a "Midas" which is a 30 ltres bottle for $100,000.  The Midas is said to be the largest bottle ever made and is only offered by Brignac Ace of Spades.

American gambler Don Johnson, celebrating what must have been a substantial win at the One On One club, London, celebrated with a Midas ($125,000 this time) and ended the evening with a $271,000 bar tab. 

JayZ bought the Brignac Ace of Spades winery widely known for its distinctive bottle which is pewter colored and looks like metal, not glass.  Hip hop fans can Google for all of the details.  One is  the Trilogy - a selection of three bottles - is $1,599.99 at BevMo.

Sorting out all of the research, located on various sites and then trying to get it adequately sorted for this column is very tiring.  I think I need a nice glass of champagne....

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