From the semiotics department…
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 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?
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?
In other news… There is a G-d!
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.”