History is written by the victors. I’ve never stopped to think about the layered meanings of this generally agreed upon truth. Of course Columbus got to write about discovering America [even though we all know it was Bugs Bunny] and Hernán Cortés about discovering Mexico when we all really know that there were people living there doing quite well before we brought them smallpox and Walmart.
I don’t know if anyone invented bubbly before French Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon broke silence in the local abbey by shouting, “Come quickly, I have tasted the stars” [I wonder if he got shushed]. Many historians will say that the bubbles were being bottled long before Dom got all the headlines. But whether “first in space” or not, Dom was a master winemaker. By enhancing his white wine’s ability to retain their natural sugars after the harvest, inducing a secondary fermentation in the spring, and then bottling these wines at just the right time to capture the bubbles he did master the art of méthode champenoise. Which begs the question, when did he ever have time for prayer and reading – and how on earth did he ever practice humility after capturing the stars?
While true Champagne remains an almost unaffordable luxury at $50 or more per bottle there are several other excellent sparkling wine alternatives in the $20 range including Cava – the Spanish version and my personal favourite – Prosecco – for the Italophile in the room- and Crémant – the name for French sparkling wine made outside the region of Champagne and an excellent source of tasty bubbles.
My advice to you this year is to try many of them and don’t just wait for “special occasions”. Believe me, there is not a better special occasion than hugging your wife in the kitchen on a Tuesday night with a flute of bubbly. It really is the only way to live your life. Ironic that a monk devoted to a life of celibacy did something in order to help solidify my marriage … don’t you think? Now who’s rewriting history?
Summer starts with Wimbledon. There is something about the upper echelon of British snobbery that titillates my senses. This is the type of elitist conversation that I trust is happening at the All England Club this week.
- “Only a cad plays tennis on anything but grass”
- “Only a slack-jawed hillbilly wears anything but tennis whites”
- “Only people with new money talk during a tennis match”
Is there a more aristocratic way of watching a sporting event than a bowl of strawberries and cream? The good old boys ain’t doin’ that at a NASCAR event!
The catering company that works Wimbledon goes through 28 000 kg of strawberries and 7 000 litres of cream to satisfy the visitors. This is what people drink:
- 25 000 bottles of champagne
- 100 000 pints of draught beer and lager
- 200 000 glasses of Pimms
- 250 000 bottles of water [why so much water when there is champagne?]
- 300 000 cups of tea and coffee [and only 3 of those cups are coffee]
What do we watch the Wimbledon final with in my house? Strawberries, cream, and champagne. Yes the final is a little early in the morning to be drinking champagne over here on this side of the pond but those expensive tiny bubbles are a great chaser to my morning double espresso.
Lanson is the official champagne of Wimbledon – it’s $53, but the price of true snobbery should be expensive. Otherwise everybody would be doing it.
LANSON BLACK LABEL BRUT CHAMPAGNE
LCBO 215962 | Price $ 53.95
“Always keep a bottle of champagne in the fridge for special occasions. Sometimes the special occasion is that you’ve got a bottle of champagne in the fridge” (note posted on our fridge).
|LEFÈVRE RÉMONDET BRUT ROSÉ CRÉMANT DE BOURGOGNE
VINTAGES 265306 | Price: $ 15.95
A light cranberry-red in the glass and displaying aromas of cranberry, cherry and a touch of freshly baked bread on the nose. The palate is extremely well balanced with wonderfully integrated bold red fruit flavours, and a superb crisp acidity providing a firm backbone. Quite a lengthy and flavourful finish. Perfect for sipping with that special someone, or pairing with light seafood salads. (VINTAGES panel, May 2011)
For Groundhog Day I put a bottle of champagne outside my front porch and I saw its shadow so we drank it.
Also, technically the champagne was a Crémant de Bourgogne and it was delicious.
I’ve been at parties where someone has asked “Can you open this bottle of champagne for me“. What I would like to do is turn around and yell “Anyone have a sword?” It’s a play on my “Sure I can juggle – anyone have 3 chain saws with them” joke.
This video – sabering champagne – is just another thing my wife won’t let me do at home. Maybe it’s the disclaimer at the beginning of the video.
Do not attempt this yourself… blah blah blah … enacted by professionals … yada yada yada … mishandling may result in severe injury or death … It’s just this sort of fear mongering that takes the fun out of your trip to the Emergency department.
My cousin Ed lives in Calgary where the wine flows like beer – you can buy it in the grocery store. You can even buy “Champagne” at Costco. Ed purchased such “wine”. I did not approve and have included our correspondance on the matter. Furthermore, I think we should “boo” people and companies a lot more than we do. Don’t just save it for sporting events. See if you can boo somebody this week.
Ed – Bought a few bottles of (Kirkland Champagne) today. Sometimes you have to forget the label and drink what tastes good! (also got an $11 Segura Viudas Cava for a side by side).
Me - Please don’t buy Kirkland – if you encourage that type of behaviour then 7-11, Mac’s Milk, and Esso will be making their own brand as well. I don’t care if some “sell-out” French guy did make it and then got the buyers drunk over a two hour tour of his estate – it’s just plain wrong.
Ed – ha ha ha ha – wine snobbery at its best! nicely done.
Me – Can I use this dialogue as a blog entry – it seems funnier to me each time I read it T
Ed - Yes, I am funny. You have permission to use it. Unfortunately I have to drink my purchase, but I promise not to enjoy it
Poor misguided cousin Ed. I think I might need to correspond with him more in the future.
I plan to vacation in Reims, the biggest city in the province of Champagne, someday and then travel south. My only concern is that I might stick around the Champagne region drinking bubbly the entire time – that would completely ruin my plans.
I just finished reading a book, Champagne: How the World’s Most Glamorous Wine Triumphed Over War and Hard Times, by Don and Petie Kladstup. Imagine what life has been like for les Champenoise – the people who live smack in between Paris and Germany. From 1870 until the end of WWII three wars were fought on the soil of Champagne. At the end of WWII in 1945 the population of France was actually lower than it was in 1800! Incredible.
A good book on history is a good book of stories. The stories of Napoleon, Churchill, Capone, many French Kings named Louis, and a few Czars and Kaisers thrown into the mix make for great reading. Also, if you are interested in drinking great Champagne then the stories of Roederer, Clicquot, and Chandon could be savoured over a flute of “party juice”.
Best of all, I got it at the library, returned it on time, and saved my money. Probably should celebrate that with a bottle of the real stuff.