Saucyman – For preserved peaches: Do I use champagne or do I use champagne vinegar to flavor the peaches - Bubbles
Both, Neither, it depends, let me elaborate…
Legally, champagne is a sparkling wine grown in the Champagne region of Northeastern France. In order to make all those nose-tickling bubbles, a regular wine is made, usually white, then bottled with a little sugar and yeast. After aging at least 18 months (vintage years must go 3 years) the sediments are disgorged from the bottle and the wine is ready for sale. In accordance with the bureaucratic nature of the French, each bottle must be grown in the designated region, produced using traditional methods or forever be doomed to a life of sparkling wine.
Not that there is anything wrong with sparkling wine – Cava, the Spanish version of champagne can be very good, sophisticated/nuanced, the drink ages well and is generally about a half the price for comparable French vintages. Labels might use the term méthode traditionnelle (on EU produced bottles of Cava): In the US, bottles of sparkling wine might contain the phrase méthode Champenoise. Both inform consumers that the sparkling wine has been produced using the same techniques that any bottle that calls itself champagne must use.
Prosecco, a very drinkable sparkling wine of Italian lineage is not traditionally made; undergoing its second fermentation – this is the one that produces the tiny bubbles that Don Ho was always going on about, in giant tanks. It is then bottled under pressure, producing a longer-lived carbonation comprised of tinier bubbles. The drink is it is dry (that is the secco), inexpensive and the bottle is often topped with a metal cap ala a beer bottle, which really just endears to the product on some level I can’t explain.
Should you use champagne – maybe if you have a champagne budget: If not, Cava is a good substitute and Prosecco is generally even more affordable. To a lesser extent, because of price not quality, a sparkling wine grown and bottled on the left half of the US is a good substitution. Generally a dish is only going to be as good as the ingredients you put into it – broth from a carton for instance just really isn’t going to make a great soup. Alcohol tends to be the exception to this rule, because wine, brandy or other spirits aren’t used in great quantity in recipes – In a sauce, the strong aggressive flavor of a young rye lends more flavor than aged bourbon. What is bad for subtlety and worse for a hangover actually works out pretty well for cooking.
As for the champagne vinegar – yes, a little acidity is always good in cooking. I would find the sweetest youngest, cheapest champagne at the store, mix it with 5-10% champagne vinegar and feel you have done your ripe peaches justice.