Friday, August 01, 2008

roses and bubbles

I read with great interest yesterday’s NYT piece on champagne. It is my unfortunate lot in life that I am infinitely drawn to champagne and lobster – neither of which I can afford much, both being wedged in my mind as achieving the peak of perfection in taste and mental association (Brittany shores and Maine coastal waters, the chalky undulating fields of grapes in France).

I came to know champagne late in life (and lobster even later). Growing up in Poland, I knew no one who drank it or had access to it. Of course, in those days, you could call anything that fizzed champagne and occasionally someone would procure cheap Bulgarian fizzy wine with some champagne wording on it – the absolute alcoholic bottom, if you ask me. I had little interest.

As graduate students in the States, we purchased champagne in moments of great decadence, to celebrate the completion of a dissertation (not mine), or the offering of employment (again, not mine). I remember purchasing Taittinger and thinking, gulp, this is astronomically expensive, but hey, so what, we may all die tomorrow! Pop!

In the eighties and nineties, I was relieved that there were such substitutes as Italian Prosecco. It fizzed and had beautiful flavors. What more could you want.

But then I took on night work at the Restaurant l’Etoile and I allowed myself another look at the great varieties of Champagne. Such a small region, so many tastes! And perhaps the best of the best for me was the discovery of rosé champagne. The gods knew what they were after when they proclaimed – throw in some Pinot Noir skin, already! (A piece of wine trivia: did you know that the French drink overall more rosé than white wine?)

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Soon I was basking in too much knowledge on champagne and too few opportunities to taste it. I set up Field to Table (it lasted a year) and took a group to France. We visited a champagne producer and my heart soared.

This summer, I returned to the region of Champagne and again visited a small, independent producer. I brought back six bottles and tucked them neatly into my fancy little wine cooler.

I don’t know many people who love champagne as much as I do and so I store my treasures for now. But, I would open them all in a snap if that would help celebrate my firstborn’s birthday, which happens to fall on this day. Ah, if she were only here…

Happy birthday, sweet little one! You’re as lovely as roses, inside and out and I love you more than you can imagine! May your day sparkle!

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Purchase photos 1927