- Image Seekers
- Savvy Shopper
- Satisfied Sipper
My first job was in a prestigious London club and it was the first time I had even seen a bottle of Champagne. Every day part of my duty was to make crushed ice using a pick. This ice was then used to chill Champagne. The Champagne was put in a bucket and, of course, it was accompanied by caviar.
The Image Seeker
It's not surprising that Champagne is commonly the drink of the Image Seeker. In the early days of my wine career, if the cork came flying out of the bottle with the sound of a Concord breaking the sound barrier, people loved it. It drew attention and applause. Serious Champagne aficionados do not like the loud pops, but prefer a gentle hiss when the bottle is opened. If you like the loud pop, be aware that Champagne follows the cork, so you can lose some precious liquid!
If I had been a buyer in those early years, Overwhelmed would have described my buying behavior. A quarter of wine consumers fit in to this category. The Overwhelmed are faced with too many choices and too little knowledge. They believe wine is complex and difficult to buy. I knew I had to be knowledgeable on any product that I served if I was to further my career, so I spent most afternoons in a library studying.
As I struggled along in my learning curve, I was invited to events where this amazing product flowed faster than the River Thames. As I was chipping away on that ice a few years earlier, I never dreamt how my life was going to take me to the Champagne region in France on a regular basis.
When I was entering Sommelier competitions, I became an Enthusiast and was introduced to some very influential people in the Champagne world. The Enthusiast was identified as being passionate about wines and tending to consume a lot at the high end. Sometimes I hung out with the "Champagne Charlies". These were the Champagne salesmen who went to high end bars and restaurants, drank Champagne and asked if you knew their particular product. That was a job I dreamed of for a while, until I found out that just like Champagne they were constantly under pressure.
My visits in the Champagne region, eventually helped to form my time as a Traditionalist. I was judging wine competitions where the competitors were judged on product knowledge, service skills, tasting, and wine and food pairing. Champagne had to be opened in the correct manner (no pop, just a hiss) and served with certain types of food (caviar of course). Veering away from the norm or traditions of Champagne was just not done. It is still the same.
The Savvy Shopper
In my forties and fifties, I was a purchaser for restaurants which catered to colleges, and some of the UK's rich and famous. I worked with trade discounts, buying in bulk, and pre-sales. These were the Savvy Shopper days. I knew what to buy, where to buy and when to buy. There are individuals that fit this category and pride themselves on being "in the know".
The Satisfied Sipper
I believe that now, in retirement I have become the Satisfied Sipper which is where 15% of the wine buying public tends to be. This is the behavior when we make sensible choices. The first thing that comes to mind are the Costco customers that seek a well made Champagne for under $25.
I believe with Champagne, we cross these six lines of behavior regularly. Remember - Champagne is purchased for the occasion and not for the wine itself.
You are planning a big celebration and want to impress your Image Seeker friends, you may become a Savvy Shopper and read as much as you can about Champagne. You might turn into an Enthusiast along the way as you develop a knowledge of this bubbly nectar. However, once in front of the wine wall, you are quickly the Overwhelmed buyer and forget all you thought you knew. No shame here - go back to the Traditionalist way of buying and serving Champagne. You can't go wrong. Then you and your guests can all be Satisfied Sippers!
At one time, my favorite place to drink Champagne was Wimbledon where the Tennis Championships are held. It was at Wimbledon that the practice of having strawberries with Champagne originated. Very simply, the strawberries were at their peak as Wimbledon was a being held, and it was a natural for using foods "in season" to avoid spoilage.
Years ago we told people chocolate and Champagne don't go together. I actually think chocolate pairs better with Champagne than caviar.
One of my favorite pairings is a smoked trout with egg dish. It's a great appetizer dish for starting a celebration with a Champagne toast.
Jockeys, models, actors, and anyone who makes a living from keeping their body slim, will drink Champagne instead of other wines. It's believed that the reason for this is the fatty tissues in a body are broken down by the acidity of Champagne. And would you believe "The Champagne Diet"? Cara Alwill Leyba has a website that has a focus on drinking two glasses of Champagne per day. She claims she is 21 pounds lighter.
Champagne will be easily preserved in the refrigerator for longer than other wines. If you simply take the foil that was on the top of the bottle before opening it and wrap that same foil around the top of the opened bottle, the bubbles will be there for the next 24 - 48 hours. Enjoy!
Champagne is the only 24 hour a day drink! Mimosas and Bellinis can start your day and Champagne toasts over dinner can end it! It's the only drink that is "acceptable" to drink at any hour of the day!
- There are over three hundred Champagne houses.
- The grapes used in Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
- Most Champagne is white, most Champagne grapes are red.
- Most Champagne is non-vintage, as producers make a blend from three consecutive years in order to create a house blend or style.
- Top Champagne Brands are:
If you are interested in more information, I recommend going to the Comite Champagne website and watching the 12 minute video that takes the viewer from grape to glass.
Karen and I wish all our readers a Happy New Year and hope that you all follow your dreams! I leave you with the words of Winston Churchill:
"Remember gentlemen it is not France we are fighting for, it's Champagne!"
*It should be noted that a followup study by Constellation Brands in 2014 identified three new segments: the Engaged Newcomer, the Everyday Loyals and the Price Driven.