“Tiny bubbles (tiny bubbles)
In the glass (in the glass)
Make me happy (make me happy)
Make me feel fine (make me feel fine).”
The winner of the last Monthly Wine Writers Challenge was Jim author of the great wine blog JVB Uncorked, and his award was creating the theme for the next challenge, and he chose “bubbles.” If we were writing detective novels, Bubbles, would be a great name for a character, male or female, of course if it was a female character, one could imagine her as an ecdysiast. So since we are in the realm of wines, and before I get off on a tangent, as I have been known to do, I shall presume that we shall discuss sparkling wines, and the most famous of the sparkling wines is Champagne.
Since I admit that I like to relate to wines from happy moments and events, as I looked back upon the articles that I have wrote, there are many written about this unique style of wine, and the many variations that one can find of it around the world. Champagne is festive, the pop of the cork, is all one needs to hear, to know that good times are ahead. Happy newlyweds are toasted with it, new ships have bottles cracked on their hull as they get ready for their maiden voyage, and almost any occasion can include Champagne; I have even been at a funeral where the wishes of the recently departed requested that all present have a glass of Champagne during the services. The three most famous grapes for Champagne are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, but there are many sparkling wines made from other varietals as well.
With me it is always the memory. The very first memory of perhaps all wines is when an uncle of mine from St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada came by our house in Detroit, to celebrate some new business venture or idea. He brought with him several magnums of T.G. Bright & Company’s Brights Champagne from Niagara Falls, Ontario. Brights was the first winery to plant French varietal in the Niagara area and successfully as well, and now there are hundreds of Canadian wineries following his lead. I remember that evening and I was only six or seven perhaps, but I was allowed my first glass of Champagne. Now serious writers would scoff and scorn me, because I refer to this wine as Champagne, but back then almost every sparkling wine was called Champagne, and though international laws now protect the region in France, giving them the monopoly to call only their wine Champagne, there are loopholes as to be expected any time attorneys and barristers get together. To this day there are some wineries in the New World that have been grandfathered in and they may use the term California Champagne, while others cannot. The good thing is that I have saved the majority of the wine labels of most of the wines that I have had, and one can see how in the old days, the labels would clearly say “California Champagne.”
Detroit, Michigan has one of the dubious claims in the annals of wine, the old Pontchartrain Wine Cellars restaurant created the drink Cold Duck, which is now mass produced for certain markets. Tradition holds that the owner or the bartender at the end of evening had left over Champagne and Mosel wine, and he blended the two together and put them in the refrigerator for the night. The next day, he tried the concoction liked it, and offered it to some of the regulars and it took off from there. Restaurants have been using Champagne for years, even for breakfast. The most famous breakfast I think that I have ever had was at Brennan’s in the French Quarter of New Orleans and their famous Mimosas, which I have written about. I have had Mimosas before that day and after that day, but that may have been the most special. In fact “Breakfast at Brennan’s” is a famous jazz tune, which of course started in New Orleans.
What great memories I have for Champagne, both French and domestic, and many include special events. At Caesar’s Palace one night when I was their guest for dinner and a show, they sent me a bottle of G.H. Mumm & Co. Rene Lalou Champagne while I watched Tom Jones. In Detroit at the Roostertail, I saw Tony Bennett perform while I enjoyed another bottle of that same famed wine. I ended up on stage with my “costar” Don Ho at the old Flamingo hotel, now long gone, dancing with the hula girls, as one carefully allowed her bra to fall off and blame me. For that performance, by the time I got dressed and back at my table, there was a gift of “Tiny Bubbles” California Champagne from the performer and it was iced and ready to be enjoyed. At the Las Vegas Hotel we sat at the reserved table for Harvey when we went to see Rich Little do his homage to Jimmy Stewart and we sipped on Chandon Champagne. These are all stories that I have written about in the past, and they still bring a smile to my face, even now as I am writing about them again.
So to me bubbles is a great theme to relive times that Champagne has enhanced and is there any doubt, why I have written so much about those tiny bubbles that arise from the bottom of the glass. What the monk Dom Perignon discovered ages ago, still makes the world smile.
“I get no kicks from Champagne,
Mere alcohol doesn’t thrill me at all,
So tell me why should it be true
That I get a kick out of you?”