“Champagne makes you feel like it’s Sunday and better days are just around the corner." ~ Marlene Dietrich
In commemorating the celebratory events in our lives - engagements, weddings, births, New Year's, new homes, beginning of a cruise, etc - . people all over the world mark them with the pop of a cork on a bottle of champagne. Not just your average, run of the mill wine, but champagne! Glorious champagne! Let's take a closer look, shall we?
"I only drink champagne when I'm happy and when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it - unless I'm thirsty." ~ Lily Bollinger
According to Epicurious, certainly a foodie's source of information, "true champagne comes only from the Champagne region in northeast France. Most countries bow to this tradition by calling their sparkling wines by other names, such as spumante in Italy.....", except for the United States, of course. We're like that sometimes, thumbing our noses at European traditions.
"Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!" ~ Dom Perignon
Dom Perignon is hailed as the inventor or discoverer of the bubbly. But actually, he just perfected the production. He was a monk, a cellarmaster in the 17th century, and was charged in finding a way to prevent the casks and bottles from exploding. Over half of the wine was being lost to the wine containers exploding as the fermentation process took place. He learned how to blend varieties of wine to create a champagne of outstanding qualities, as well as using thicker bottles. The way he kept the corks from exploding was to tie the cork down on the bottle!
"A single glass of champagne imparts a feeling of exhilaration. The nerves are braced; the imagination is stirred, the wits become more nimble." ~ Winston Churchill
Champagne is usually more expensive than regular wines because the makers use the very best grapes. The sweetness of a champagne is determined by the amount of sugar that is added just before the final corking.
You can buy champagne that is less sweet called Brut, with which most of us are familiar. Other sweeter champagnes are usually considered dessert wines.
"In a perfect world, everyone would have a glass of Champagne every evening". ~ Willie Gluckstern
Because of its association with the crowning and anointment of the French kings, champagne became to be known throughout the world. As the word spread, more royals in Europe sought the wine and thus began its relationship with those in power and of wealth. Its popularity climbed within the ranks of royalty and European wealthy all through the 17th, 18th and 19th century. The wineries and companies developed the mystique of champagne by catering to the royals and nobles, thus creating an identity and history for their product. As the industry grew and became more sophisticated in its advertising, they ensured that the association of champagne with power and luxury, grand occasions, parties, celebrations and "rites of passage" continued and grew. As the popularity of champagne grew as a celebratory wine, so did the middle class that wanted to emulate those of a higher class. Champagne became a symbol of "moving on up", so to speak. Now, just about everyone can afford to buy champagne, albeit good champagne can be really expensive.
"If life brings you troubles, drink some champagne, then your problems will just become bubbles...." ~Unknown
But other than that, what is it that makes a cold glass of champagne so appealing? As any woman can tell you, it is the bubbles, those wonderful bubbles that rise to the top of the glass and burst. The bubbles are the "sparkling" part of this wine, produced by the second in-bottle fermentation that other wines do not go through or produce. This second fermentation causes a type of carbonation, yes, the same carbonation that gives soft drinks their fizz, but champagne bubbles are different, more refined and delicate than that of a Coke. The bubbles from champagne are caused after the pouring of the wine into a dry glass by the imperfections in the wine glass, forming along the sides and bottom and breaking loose to rise to the top. This process is called EFFERVESCENCE. - the March word of the month, by the way! The official definition of effervescence is "the escape of gas from a liquid and the foaming or fizzing that results from a release of the gas." And that my dears, is what makes champagne bubbles and why we LOVE champagne.
"Auntie Mame is a froth of whipped cream and champagne and daydreams and Nuit de Noel perfume. She' s not mortal at all." ~ Patrick Dennis
So what does this have to do with anything? Well, let me tell you. Just as champagne has effervescence, so do we. We all know those people that we want to be around, who make us laugh, who have have a zest about them. It is though they have a secret formula about living. When it comes right down to it, we would LOVE to be like them, right? Their sparkle- their effervescence - is visible, contagious and worth emulating. But instead of just acting like them, we have the ability to be just as effervescent as they, in our own unique way. We are all like a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne - the contents on the inside of each of us like the fine wines that have been blended over time.
"Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand - and melting like a snowflake..." ~ Francis Bacon, Sr.
So what are you waiting for? Life is short. Celebrate it! It's time to open up and live! Even a good bottle of champagne can sit too long on the shelf, lose its effervescence, and turn into vinegar! I can't think of a sadder thing than to wait for the perfect moment to open up our bottle of life and never getting around to the delightful bubbles on the inside. You've been sitting on the wine rack long enough! Grab the champagne glasses quick and drink up!
"Mirth is the sweet wine of human life. It should be offered sparkling with zestful life unto God."~Harriet Ward Beecher