I do blame my mother for my addiction to Champagne. I must have inherited it from her or something. The bubbles seem to run in our blood and nothing feels more intoxicating to us than hearing the plop of a cork, the swishing sound when you pour a glass and the smell of the first tiny bubbles rising up.
She was always a snob when it came to Champagne and so am I.
Christmas tradition at our house asks for Champagne year after year. One year my Dad dared to offer us a bottle of Mumm (an okaaay German sparkling wine), which he had gotten as a present from someone. He thought it suitable for his beloved family on Christmas Eve. The family wasn’t impressed and went on strike till he forked out money and sent my brother to the store to buy two bottles of Veuve. Crisis averted.
Later my parents discovered Crémant from Alsace. Even though we all drank and liked it, it was still lovingly duped 'Elsässer Plörre' by my mother. Plörre, a slang word from the western part of Germany, is defined as:
Alcoholic drink which sight makes you afraid you may wake up with a hangover the next day.
Highly unfair to the drink in question, but we just wanted to be snobs as the Crémant wasn’t from the Champagne and the name stuck despite my Dad’s protests. Today he goes along with it and offers me a glass of Plörre the second I step of the plane.
Ever since moving to South Africa I have been in heaven. Living in a country that has mastered the art of making Champagne, I have drunk myself through an extensive collection so far and would blame my cousin and her pool deck for it, if I needed someone to blame. I don’t.
Imagine my excitement when my new favourite wine shop The Mill offered a M.C.C. and Champagne tasting evening. I may have drooled a little bit over my desk when I signed up for it. My food poisoning left me slightly worried if I was going to be able to make it, but true to form my stomach was basically begging me for some bubbles yesterday.
Usually work is quiet these days, but Murphy’s law kicked in at around 4 o’clock and made my boss, who was coming with, and me run around like crazy maniacs till the last minute. I had no idea how I was going to manage ‘tasting’ the bubbly as opposed to gulping it down by the time we arrived. We both just needed a strong drink badly and have had no time for the usual late afternoon office G&T before. Luckily for us the day turned around the moment we stepped into The Mill. A glass of bubbly called ‘Sparkles’ was put into our hand and though the name sounded too cute to be good, we took about a sip or two to be convinced. Nigel, the owner, was a star - once our glasses were empty he had them refilled within a second. He said he is just very good at spotting empty glasses, but I do believe he can read minds.
Me (thinking): Refill my glass, this is yummy, please someone, refill my glass, please, someone –
Me: Thank you, Nigel.
Once we spotted crackers on the table (we had been worried about that as the Murphy’s law kick in had also prevented us from getting dinner before), we were set to go and do some serious tasting. It wasn’t quite as serious due to the facts that a) we were allowed to pour our own glasses – bad idea, b) Australian jokes being told – bad, but funny, and c) a guy at our table who told a story about opening a bottle of expensive, vintage Champagne at the top of Lion Hill and how it led to holding the cork and watching the bottle fall – bad for him, but really funny.
I learned that I am either not such a snob after all or just plain ignorant as the bottle of a 2000 Guy Charbaut Champagne didn’t nearly impress me as much as a bottle called The Old Mans Sparkle from Groote Post. I think I tasted violets in a bottle and am surprised that the bottle I took home arrived unharmed and made it through the night. After so heroically sustaining from drinking it all by myself last night, I think I will finally treat myself to a nice little wine shelf. The old man shall be the first bottle of little treasures on it and stay long enough so I can take a picture at least.