It's Monday, let's have some champagne!

This past Saturday was my birthday. This means many (fun) things, in particular that I enjoyed lots of bubbly. In reading my birthday cards and Facebook messages, I smiled at how many actually mentioned champagne. It runs in the family: my mother is known for having champagne in her veins instead of blood, and well, my sisters enjoy it just as much; it must be genetic.

Maybe it’s a European thing, but we have never reserved champagne for New Year’s Eve. Indeed, champagne is as common on our house as wine… Next time you head to the wine store, bring home a bottle of champagne for one or more of these reasons:

  • In addition to the previously proven benefits of champagne, we now know that two glasses of champagne per week helps prevent age-related memory loss and the onset of dementia.
  • Champagne is a great pairing for a number of foods, beyond oysters and caviar.  Did you know that champagne and fried foods go fabulously well together? Also, open champagne when having brie or other soft cheeses, buttered popcorn, salami, smoked salmon, stuffed mushrooms, fruit-based desserts, shortbread cookies, even macaroni and cheese. Why? The acidity in the champagne cuts through the fat content of these foods.
  • Bubbles are fun! Champagne makes everything more festive, including a random Monday evening.
  • Champagne glasses are fun to collect. I like mine in pairs. I have 6 pairs of 2s, not 12 matching ones. My favorite? Sterling silver champagne glasses. They hold the cold of the champagne longer, and make it taste better.
  • Champagne is to wine like red is to lipstick. My Mom always told me, when you are having a bad day, put on a bright red lipstick, and everything will get better. It works every time. Champagne does the same: don’t wait to have something to celebrate to have champagne… have it just because champagne makes everything better!

Don’t know where to begin? Here are some favorites with which you can’t go wrong:

  • Veuve Cliquot Rose is possibly my favorite among all champagnes, pink, bubbly, crisp, and perfect. .
  • Veuve Cliquot brut is also a favorite, preferred by champagne purists.
  • For something softer, sweeter, and more dessert-style (and my father’s favorite), Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial is the way to go.
  • Finally, of all of the sparkling wines, I am partial to prosecco, perhaps because of my Italian roots. The best, and one of most affordable brands out there is Rotari.

So why let’s celebrate the fact that today is Monday, and have a glass of champagne. Just because.

Champagne makes me happy… today and every day

There is a running joke in my family that the Pollas have champagne running through our veins instead of blood. That would be something we inherited from my mother’s side of the family. Indeed, since I can remember as a little girl, champagne has always been her drink of choice, in the non-traditional form of a “piscine” (literally, “swimming pool”), meaning champagne served in a large cabernet wineglass with lots of ice cubes.

I, personally, prefer champagne served the traditional way, without ice, in a long flute. To many, in particular here in the US, champagne is something to reserve for very special occasions, such as a wedding, New Year’s Eve, maybe Valentine’s day. In the Polla household (in Geneva, growing up, and now in Georgetown and New Orleans), champagne is something to have as frequently as others might have wine. Indeed, Mom always said “don’t wait to have something special to celebrate to drink champagne, or indeed you might not ever drink it!”

The sound of the cork, the beautiful bubbles, the golden (or pink) color, even the glasses used to drink it, everything about champagne makes me happy. I collect champagne flutes (I only like to have two of the same; I am not one to have a set of 12). I collect champagne corks (with the date and occasion written on them when a special occasion is to be remembered). I once started collecting “special occasion” champagne bottles, until my husband suggested that collection was taking up too much space.

While my very favorite champagne is Champagne Drappier, from a boutique French vineyard, still relatively hard to find stateside, my go-to is Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label, and my favorite pink champagne is Veuve Cliquot Rosé. I love everything about this brand – the history, that Madame Cliquot (the widow) took over the running of the business in 1805, that the company is now owned by LVMH, that its former CEO Mireille Guiliano wrote “French Women Don’t Get Fat,” and that Veuve Cliquot every year honors a woman in business with the “Business Woman Award.”

Not that I need an excuse to pop open a bottle of bubbly, but Le Figaro Magazine (a French publication, of course) this past November did a story on the health benefits of champagne, recognized as early as the 18th century to help with digestion, have anti-aging benefits, have antiseptic properties, and, most importantly, “cure black thoughts” (Le Figaro Magazine, November 30, 2012, pages 118-120).

On that note, it is almost time to have a mimosa to celebrate the end of 2012, and the impending start of a New Year. After all, the NPR team had champagne earlier this morning on air while doing a story on this very topic… so it must be 5 o’clock somewhere!