National Just Because Day (yes, this is a real thing) falls on August 27th this year. So why am I drinking bubbly right now? Just because….
It used to be that people cracked open a bottle of bubbly to celebrate something monumental, a birth, a wedding, a promotion, the dawn of a new century. Now people are finding delicious and very affordable bubbly to celebrate the lovely and not so lovely commonplace moments of everyday life, to celebrate “just because...”
Here is a quote from the great general and Emperor Napoleon, who was apparently a huge fan of Champagne: “Champagne!” he said. “In victory, one deserves it. In defeat, one needs it.” He made frequent trips to the Champagne region in northeast France to pick out his own bubbly. He was usually accompanied by his Hussars, crack troops who sabered their bottles of Champagne to drink while charging their horses. Why? Just because!
What is Champagne? In a nut shell, it’s a sparkling wine made by a particular traditional method from grapes grown in designated areas of the Champagne region of northeastern France from one, two, or all three of the following grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. No other sparkling wine can be called Champagne. It’s expensive, anywhere from $75 to $275,000. Its history is dotted with interesting characters, from the legendary priest Dom Perignon said to have invented it and at first taste cried out, “Come quickly. I am drinking stars!” to the staid and very portly Veuve Cliquot, widowed early, who took charge of her inherited Champagne house and became the first great marketer of Champagne in an era where wealthy women did not do business. Champagne still proves the genius of her marketing. Artists painted famous posters, great novelists and poets wrote its wrote its joys, and drank it by the buckets, and paid lots of money for it. Rappers sing its praises; professional athletes pour it all over each other. Why? Just because…
Sparkling from Anywhere Else There are plenty of other sparklers from all over the world, in the under $20 range, or even under $10. If you like that tickle of bubbles, and want something different, something to give as a gift, something to use in cocktails, have a conversation with your Wine Stewards. They are all proponents of affordable luxury and can guide you to hidden gems like a sparkling Torrontes from Argentina; a sparkling (Sekt) Riesling from the famous Dr. Loosen in Germany; a Crémant from regions of France other than Champagne; a Cava from Spain; a dry Prosecco, sweet Moscato d’Asti or Brachetto d’Acqui or even a spritzy Lambrusco, all from Italy; not to mention a host of sparklings from all over the U.S. And you will find sparkling wine coming in magnums and 750 ml bottles, in half bottles and splits, even cans. Sparkling is the fastest growing segment in wine world these days. Why? Just because…
Why Drink Sparkling Wine? Most importantly because it is so delicious and it goes with almost everything. You can get good quality for little money. It is a great solution to entertaining.
20 Simple and delicious stuff to serve with sparkling wine:
- Salty, crunchy snacks: potato chips, fresh popped popcorn
- Toasted spiced almonds or roasted curried chickpeas
- Classic double fried French fries
- Traditional finger foods: deviled eggs, southern fried chicken wings
- Spring rolls or egg rolls
- Mini fish tacos
- Coconut Shrimp
- Grilled Scallops
- Mini Crab Cakes
- Hard cheese like parmigianno or pecorino on salty Triscuit crackers
- Wheat crackers with sharp cheddar cheese topped with chutney
- Crostini with salty ham, goat cheese spread, olive tapenade,
- Crudités (cut veggies) and dip
- Mini quiche
- Bacon wrapped pineapple, water chestnuts, dates, shrimp, jalapeños, squash cubes or anything bacon wrapped!
- Whole button mushrooms, sautéed in butter and fresh thyme
- Berries, especially strawberries
- Mini fruit tarts
Then there’s the Champagne breakfast! It all goes down well with a chilled sparkling wine: pancakes or waffles, lox and bagels, cheese and ham omelets, scrambles and bacon, yoghurt/fresh fruit/granola parfait, or fried potatoes. As British musical theater composer and playwright said: ““Why do I drink Champagne for breakfast? Doesn’t everyone?”
Sparkling wine cocktails These have been around for a long time, from the easy and elegant Kir Royal, Champagne flavored with Chambord raspberry liqueur, and the familiar Mimosa, sparkling wine with orange juice, to the trendy wild combinations of local bars in the throes of the recent mixology craze.
Make a sparkling cocktail, starting with any one of the following in a chilled champagne flute
- 1 oz. Canton Ginger Liqueur + 1 oz. lime juice
- 1 oz. Campari or Aperol
- 4-5 fresh raspberries + 1 oz. limoncello
- 2 large ripe strawberries + 1 oz. Grand Marnier
- TBs fresh ripe blueberries + Ginger liqueur
- 1 oz. Elderflower liqueur + 1 oz. grapefruit juice
Then top with 4 oz. champagne of well-chilled sparkling wine, poured slowly over the other ingredients!
Or invent your own. Why? Just because…
About Roz: During her distinguished career, Roz has served a term as the Retail Representative on the MDA's Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council and Continues to serve on their Promotion & Education and Competition Committees. In addition, she has served as a judge in various national and international wine competitions.
Working with D&W's wine stewards and SpartanNash's vendor partners, Roz tirelessly explores the vast world of wine, discovering the finest wines for every budget and every taste. And she loves to discuss food and wine with customers and colleagues. As a lifelong foodie, there is nothing else she'd rather be doing.