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Posts Tagged ‘champagne’

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No New Year’s Eve party would be complete without a toast of bubbly after the ball drops.  In fact, making sure you have a glass of the bubbly seems to be an essential selling point for bars and event spaces when trying to seduce you into spending that precious moment that only happens once a year with them.  Of course, you’ll pay for it…exorbitantly.  But never fear, they’ll throw in a glass of Champagne for free…or will they?  I’m 99% confident they won’t.

The vast majority of wine drinkers are well aware that the term Champagne strictly applies to the sparkling beverage made in the traditional method that comes from grapes grown and fermented in the Champagne region of France.  The vast majority of wine drinkers also don’t care when someone calls any sparkling wine, “Champagne”, and honestly, could most people tell the difference?   In fact, anyone who corrects someone using the term “Champagne” inappropriately in casual conversation such as:

“Do you guys want some Champagne?”

or

“I just loooooove drinking Champagne!!”

…can rightly be referred to as ‘pedantic’ most politely or any other word of your choosing if you’re feeling more comfortable in that social setting.

However, there are specific times where choosing the correct wording matters.  In regards to NYE, let’s zero in on one particular facet that sets Champagne apart from other sparkling wines outside of where it is grown and produced:  On average, it’s much more expensive than any other kind of sparkling wine.  When someone is advertising something and then it turns out they’re really giving you a much cheaper product, we don’t call that a cute colloquialism mix-up (or a “generic trademark” to be technical).  We call it fraud.

The stupid thing is that if you put on your advertisements what you’ll actually be serving (Cava, Prosecco, the generic Sparkling White Wine, or even just good ol’ bubbly)…people will still be interested.  Plenty of people like other sparkling wines just as much if not more than Champagne.  Will it sound as classy as using the term Champagne?  Probably not. But quite frankly, if you need to lie about your event to make it sound better than it is it probably wasn’t going to be that classy anyway.  It’s not unfair to question whether if you ordered a gin martini at a place like that, would they actually give you a lower priced vodka martini but charge you the same price as they would for the gin martini?

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I see no reason why consumers couldn’t ask for a refund if they were offered Champagne included in the price they paid and then they got something that was valued less.  In fact, I would encourage people to do so if they find they’ve been intentionally misled with regards to wine.  Alternatively, since it’s safe to assume most places advertising “Free Champagne” will not be giving you Champagne, let that color your decision a bit as to whether you want to plunk down the money for that particular establishment.  Assume it’s a half-glass pour of the cheapest Prosecco they could find and see if you still value their offer the same way.

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dd-bard

Picture selected based on the artist’s misunderstanding of when the USA was founded and when bards and swashbuckling pirates existed. 

Recently, I had a birthday dinner at a local restaurant here in Minneapolis.  It was French.  It was delightful. It was serene.  The most wonderful part of it though was the fact that this restaurant was offering half-glasses of wine (2.5oz instead of 5oz) on their menu of any wine they poured by the glass.  Even better, the price of that half-glass was exactly half the price of the full glass.  It was brilliant.  I was inspired.  I wrote a ballad about it:

 

The Ballad of the Half-Glass Pour

As I sat down at the restaurant,
Menu soon in hand,
I was craving bubbles from a Francophonic land.

But as my eyes danced merrily,
From savory small plate to sweet,
My wine desires multiplied, how would my cravings be complete?

But what was this? Could it be true?
I spied in the margin,
Half a pour for half the price? A fair and even bargain.

How else could I sample them all?
Mix and match as I pleased,
This restaurant was offering half glasses of wine, it seemed like such a tease.

Unlike the up-marked volume sales of the airport,
Where they offer you 6 ounces or 9,
I’ll take variety so 2.5 will be fine.

In the end a similar volume
Will probably be consumed,
But who can choose just one flower, when the entire field is in bloom?

Bubbles to start
Then I selected a Cab Franc rosé
Could have gone on to a red, but I’d already had a glass that day.

For dessert, I had the Byrrh,
A digestif to settle all that food.
Having only just half glasses had put me in the mood.

Satiated, satisfied,
I sat back in my chair with a delighted sigh.
It felt as though Utopia had finally drawn in nigh.

If you chance upon a restaurant
Whose menu begets a paradox of choice
You’d best hope they have the half-glass pour, and if they do rejoice.

For the wine flight is constructed
Meant for comparing and not completing
The option for the half-glass pour however, is certainly worth repeating.

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Taken in Lyon, France…not the bottle I drank from the night of the half-glass pours. 

 

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Are you one of these guys? No? Then you can't sing Auld Lang Syne while drunk no matter what you say.

Are you one of these guys? No? Then you can’t sing Auld Lang Syne while drunk no matter what you say.

Alright,  here it is; the only sparkling wine advice you’ll need for New Year’s Eve. It’s all about the science of bubbles!!!  Science Friday, one of my favorite podcasts had chemist Richard Zare on to discuss the persnickety peculiarities of bubbly beverages.  Despite the overly-liberal use of the brand name “Champagne” (Remember all Champagnes are sparkling white wines, but not all sparkling white wines are Champagne.) this was a fantastic episode with numerous tidbits that you can use to tantalize your NYE cohorts.  Take special note of Ira’s suggestion of a pickup line.

Oh, and what sparkling wine should you get this year?  Apparently, sparkling red wines are trendy right now (Gamay, Pinot Noir, and blends mostly).  So there you have it.  I just knew something trendy.

Enjoy this and have a wonderful end to your 2012: The year the world didn’t end. Again.

SciFri: Get the Most Bang From Your Bubbly

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