Champagne by any other name…

From the semiotics department…

champagne

Above: A few weeks ago, Tracie B and I attended a “Champagne Party” in south Austin hosted by wine collectors.

Champagne is a place (a province of eastern France).

Champagne is an adjective, “something exhilarating, excellent” (“It was of the two Lytteltons, Alfred and Edward, that the phrase ‘the champagne of cricket’, was first used,” 1928, OED online edition). Champagne is a color.

Champagne is also a compound attributive adjective: you can have “champagne” tastes; you can be a “champagne” socialist (I, for one, certainly am one, although I prefer Brunello socialist); you can even have a “champagne” cocktail.

Champagne is also a wine — a sparkling wine made in the region of Champagne, twice-fermented in bottle.

champagne

Above: It was like a scene from Man Bites Dog when fellow Austinite blogger Alcoholian and I faced off with our cameras at the Champagne party. Meta-blogging at its best!

Champagne perhaps more than any other wine (with Bordeaux a distant second) evokes an ethos, a zeitgeist, an aura, a sentiment, a sensation, a sensual experience…

On any given day, you will find at least three bottles of wine in my refrigerator: a bottle of Prosecco, a bottle of Moscato d’Asti, and a bottle of Champagne. The Prosecco for celebration and/or a great pairing for a small plates dinner (cicchetti). The Moscato d’Asti, with its low alcohol and bright fruit flavors and residual sugar, a great brunch wine, a great a-friend-just-dropped-in wine, a great wine to pair with fresh fruit. But the Champagne? When it comes to a truly special occasion, I wish for no other wine to grace the palate of my beautiful Tracie B than Champagne. Is there any other wine where refinement and elegance meet power and structure as in Champagne? Is it just the ethos behind the wine that inspires this reverence in me?

Today, I’ll leave the technical discussion of Champagne to Eric and BrooklynGuy (I highly recommend both posts, the one on some great grower-producers, the other on varietal expression in Champagne).

I’ll just invite you to consider the word… say it aloud, roll it around your mouth… think of the imagery and ethos it evokes… Champagne… the very word titillates the senses, no? Champagne by any other name just wouldn’t be the same, would it?

Tracie B and I will be opening a Champagne on New Year’s Eve this year but we haven’t decided which one. What’s your “best Champagne” pick?

More tomorrow…

In other news… There is a G-d!

pastrami

Yesterday, Tracie B and I stopped in Houston on our way back to Austin from Orange, Texas and had lunch at Kenny and Ziggy’s Delicatessen. The day I decided to leave New York City, I had resigned myself to never eating great smoked fish and pastrami again (at least, not on a daily basis). But, man, let me tell you: the pastrami at Kenny and Ziggy’s ranks right up there with Barney Greengrass and Katz’s.

I never thought I’d utter the words, “there IS great deli outside of New York.”

Who knew?

10 Responses to Champagne by any other name…

  1. adrian says:

    There is great deli in L.A.: Langer’s near downtown and Brent’s in Northridge.

  2. Have you all checked you cholesterol lately? Slow down, kids!

  3. SB says:

    That’s a nice bucket of bubbles. Especially the one hiding in the back under the Rosé.

  4. Anne says:

    I know that it is not technically Champagne, not originating in France,but I really like Frank Family Rouge and their Blanc de Blanc. I ordered a few bottles that we will be popping this New Year’s Eve.

    I have been enjoying your holiday posts,
    Happy New Year to you both.

  5. genevelyn says:

    Great post–I hadn’t considered Champagne an adjective, ’til now

  6. Ace says:

    Does Luca Zaia know about your Champagne in the fridge fetish?

  7. I love this site. Maybe you could tell me how I can keeping up to date with it? By the way I found this website through MSN.

  8. HCG Diet says:

    Extremely insightful. I like the way you write. Do you provide an RSS feed?

  9. Apple iPad says:

    awesome post, you deserve a free iPad: http://bit.ly/freeipad6

  10. Gotta do a post on Franciacorta and Trento – top two Italian sparkling (traditional method) areas that I think are on par with Champagne.

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