One of the most important social things that a man can do is to make a great toast and so that's what we're going to be talking about today. From capturing your audience's attention with the right sentiment to ensuring you have the right champagne for the moment, there are a lot of elements that go into making that moment special.
Since 1966, Andre has been a luxury that unlike others doesn't break the bank but still tastes great. With the tips below, you are certain to impress your friends by mastering one of the manliest of traditions - a great toast!
Selecting The Right Bottle: Champagne vs Sparkling Wine
One of the keys to making a great toast is selecting the right bottle and knowing how to talk about it. This is all part of being the master of your domain and possessing knowlege that others don't. However, it is also about being confident enough to share it without being a showoff.
Sparkling wines have been made in California since the 1860's and they were referred to generally as champagne or imported champagne. Since 2006 however, the United States has agreed not to approve any new labels for US-produced sparkling wines with the word "Champagne" on them. However, some of the older products, including Korbel, Cook's or Andre, are allowed to retain the name. Andre is one of those brands that is grandfathered in and you'll see them refer to the product as "California champagne". Functionally there is little difference between champagne and sparkling wine though there are different sorts of fermentation methods and the most authentic would be those wines that use the "Traditional Method" or methode champenoise. However, less expensive sparkling wines can be made more simply in bulk and the product is bottled from the product produced in a single large vat instead.
As you visit various wineries you will see some that promote that they use methode traditionalle or methode champenoise, while others simply refer to their product as sparkling wine. On the other hand, if you want authentic champagne, it must be produced in Champagne, France and use the methode chamenoise.
It is important to avoid being snobby though and you can certainly enjoy a California Champagne such as Andre to celebrate the right occasion.
Think of it this way. If you are at a fancy dinner and sharing a bottle with someone special, then maybe a premium experience is desired. However, if you are simply celebrating with friends or having a party, sparkling wine or champagne such as Andre is a perfect fit instead. Consider that while Andre might be only $4-6, a bottle of French Champagne might be $30+ and in many instances far higher in cost than that.
There are other types of bubbly wines as well, but that's a topic for another time.
When To Toast
Traditional etiquette suggests that you should wait until after the dishes for the first course are cleared from the table for the host to make the toast. However, that tradition really only works in situations where you are having a formal dinner party. Otherwise, in more simplified fashion, it's ok to make the toast before dinner service begins or afterward - before desert.
Who Should Toast
This depends significantly on the situation being celebrated but the host always gets the first toast and should use it to welcome the guests. From that point though, other guests may toast to specific people based on the occasion. For instance, the Best Man should toast following the parents of the newly married couple or a co-worker might toast to his friend's retirement. In both situations, though it is appropriate to confirm with the host before taking the opportunity to do so.
Picking the Right Type of Champagne
Selecting the right bottle is important. Because champagne is typically a stand-alone beverage you don't need to worry about pairing the champagne with food the way you do with wine, but it's still important to consider the flavor. French Champagne's tend to be more yeasty and a bit heavier tasting, whereas in general California sparkling wines tend to be more bubbly and lighter in flavor. In this case, it is essential to consider the tastes of your guest of honor ... if they like drier varietals then go for that, or if they prefer sweet or fruit-flavored you can try that as well.
For example, flavors range from Andre Brut to sweet with flavors like Peach Moscato and Strawberry Moscato. While the classic champagne for a toast is typically going to be a Brut, it's always fun to use a Moscato for less formal occasions.
Opening the Bottle
Champagne will typically have a cork that is under extreme pressure from the carbonation so make sure to open it slowly and point it away from the guests while opening it. This is actually one of the things I like about Andre. Since it is a twist off, the bottle is actually resealable and you can open it easily without worrying about the cork flying off into space.
Whatever way you go with your toast, it's important to remember to make it special and that's where Andre comes in - this is a quality brand that is an affordable luxury. Sure, you can toast your buddy getting married, promoted, or retired over a couple bottles of beer. To make it really special though, there's no substitute for a genuine champagne toast.