Did you hear that? Yep, it was an angelic choir striking a high C.
Disclaimer here: in this blog, I will refer to all sparkling wines as “Champagne,” even though that is both inaccurate and downright blasphemous. Technically, “Champagne” is only that sparkling wine which comes from the Champagne region of France. But, I’m feeling generous today, so everything gets to be Champagne. And neither am I going to bore you with how Champagne is made, even though I find it to be a fascinating process. If you are interested in the subject, there is a wealth of information on the internet, and probably explained more clearly than I could do.
For me, Champagne is the ultimate drink. It’s light, airy, and effervescent. It’s a spa treatment for my mouth; the little bubbles message my tastebuds and flutter all the way to my belly. It fills me with rapture… Not to sully my Champagne, but it’s akin to those more ignoble spas treatments which include a happy ending. Champagne intrinsically is associated with celebration, and shouldn’t we find something to celebrate every day? Shouldn’t there be something, no matter how seemingly trivial, to inspire our gratitude and our appreciation? At the very least, when drinking Champagne, you can be thankful for having a glass of Champagne!
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking: “I don’t like champagne.” I hear this all the time, and I don’t believe it for a second. That’s like saying “I don’t like chicken.” Unless you have an allergy, there is at least one chicken dish which you probably enjoy, even if it is fried nuggets of parts oddly tasting like chicken. Champagne comes in a wide range of flavors and sweetness levels… like chicken, there is one for everyone. And, as prevalent as carbonated sodas are in our beverage repertoire, I have a hard time believing people don’t like a fizzy beverage. So, I will assume most champagne objections stem from one bad experience, like Cousin Eddie’s wedding where cheap fizzy crap was served followed by a mediocre dinner, more alcohol, sugary wedding cake, an energetic round of YMCA, and then a little praying to the porcelain gods. Champagne gets blamed, and the vow never to touch the stuff again results. Which means this person misses out on some really awesome stuff!
With Thanksgiving mere days away, Champagne is a perfect choice to serve all day long, and especially with dinner. Champagne is surprisingly food-friendly. It goes great with just about everything, from chips to steak. It especially complements the variety of flavors and textures of your Thanksgiving meal. You have savory turkey, rich sauces, buttery potatoes, brown sugar-laden yams, and tart cranberry sauce... before you even get to dessert. And Champagne goes with it all!
First of all, Champagne has bubbles, and bubbles are excellent palate-cleansers. Which means the bubbles scrub your tongue from one bite to the next, so the richness of your meal doesn’t build up to a point you can barely smack your lips together. It’s like a mid-course sorbet you might get in a posh restaurant. Only with a little alcohol.
Champagne is also typically low in alcohol. When your single Aunt Edna offers you unsolicited parenting advice—for the umpteenth time—you might long for something a little stronger. But Champagne’s alcohol level of 8-12% means you can enjoy more than one glass without fear of getting smashed and telling your sister how you really feel about her unemployed loser mooch of a boyfriend.
And the best part about Champagne is that you don’t have to break the bank to buy a bottle. Champagne comes in a wide range of price tags. Personally, I would shy away from the under $8 bottles or you’re just asking for a repeat of Cousin Eddie’s wedding. But “cheap” is different than “economical.” “Economical” Champagne choices would be Spanish Cava. Essentially, Cava is French Champagne, only made in Spain with the same laborious process. And it is gentler on the pocketbook (I LOVE Spanish Cava!).
Italian Prosecco can also be an economic choice (I once spent a whole December drinking Prosecco, and it was a divine month!), and it comes in everything from bone-dry to slightly sweet. If you need really sweet, a Moscato d’Asti or the American Moscato. The varietal is en fuego these days, and there are numerous bubbly options. A solid $10-$20 bottle of renowned California Champagne will never disappoint. Many of these wineries are either owned by or heavily influenced by French Champagne houses, so the quality is stellar.
And—eyelash flutter and quivering moan—nothing beats an elegant French Champagne. It might cost a little more, but it’s worth it for finding heaven in every refined, decadent sip. Elysium in a bottle. Nirvana in a glass. Can you tell I like the stuff? If you really want to make a statement (even if that statement is: the rest of you get Concord grape juice ‘cuz I’m hoarding all the French Champagne for myself), open at least bottle of this nectar-of-the-gods during your Holiday celebration.
The Holidays are for being grateful, remembering our loved ones, celebrating each other, and being kind to ourselves. Even more than bacon or chocolate (both of which pair really well with Champagne, by the way), there is nothing which encompasses and embodies the spirit of the Holidays more than a bottle of Champagne. So don't be shy… Pop a cork this Holiday. I know I will raise a glass (or two or three or four) in toast to all the blessings in my life!