Manners & Misdemeanors

An Etiquette Guide to Champagne and Oysters

Don't even think about clinking your glass-and other surprising tips.
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In theory, there is no wrong way to consume bubbly and bivalves (unless you’re keeping them all to yourself, of course) but for the sake of research, I decided to attend Beaumont Etiquette's "Champagne and Oysters Etiquette" class at the Plaza Hotel.

I learned a surprising amount about the proper way to present, serve, and consume these fan favorites, and you can find my intrepid discoveries into the world of properly devouring this divine pairing below.


CHAMPAGNE

1. Proper storage is essential: Make sure it’s been stored properly. Light and heat are enemies. Keep it on its side and in a cool, dark place. The optimal temperature is 50-55 degrees.

2. Avoid the fridge: It's the worst place to keep your champagne if you’re not going to drink the bottle within the week. Because refrigerators rattle, the cork will shrink.

3. There's a secret to chilling it quickly: If friends are coming over and you need to chill your champs, place the bottle in a bucket with half ice, half water and it should be cold in 20 minutes. Also, spinning the bottle makes it colder quicker.

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4. Follow protocol for opening the bottle: Show the label of the cold bottle and present it to the group. Hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle. Keep your thumb on top of the cork, and never point it at anyone. Turn the cage six times. Stretch out the cage with your thumb still on it. It shouldn’t make a popping noise. Take a serviette and wipe the rim, making sure there’s no foil.

5. Don't pour it haphazardly: Face the label toward the person you’re serving and pour it like you would wine. Offer the host a taste first, and then serve the table, going clockwise to each person. The bubbles will move slowly if you pour slowly, which helps avoid overflowing the glass. Wipe the rim with the napkin before serving each person.

6. Use appropriate glassware: Tall flutes are not the preferred vessel because what you taste is what you smell—tulip shaped flutes or white wine glasses work the best.

7. Hold the glass like a lady (or gentleman): Hold the stem if you’re at the table; if you’re walking around, hold the bottom so it doesn’t spill. Don't clasp the bowl of the champagne glass—your body heat will warm it.

8. Swirl and smell before you sip: Similar to tasting a wine. Drink from the same place on the glass every time so the entire rim isn’t smudged.

9. Keep the clinking to a minimum: Never clink your glasses—you don’t want to chip glassware. Simply raise your glass and make eye contact instead.

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He was a bold man that first at an oyster. -Jonathan Swift

OYSTERS

10. Beware of bad oysters: If it's a healthy oyster, it's closed and should smell like a fresh ocean breeze.

11. Don't use the fork to consume it. Only use the oyster fork to check and see if the oyster is “free and clear.”

12. East Coast oysters: They're meatier, more savory, and brinier with a saltwater flavor. They're best served with lemon.

13. West Coast oysters: They're more buttery and good with sweet pairings.

14. Fork placement is important: The oyster fork is set on the right side of your knife; it has three prongs.

15. Consume it with care: Smell it. Then check to see if there’s water (that’s where the flavor is). Gently scrape the bottom of your oyster with a fork. Hold the oyster by keeping the hinge toward the back of your hand, and add your condiments. Tilt your head back or slurp it up if there’s sediment (predominantly gulf coast oysters). Turn the shell over when you’re done.

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This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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