Saturday, January 8, 2011

On Champagne and common perception

DF bowtie

I was talking to a wonderful girl last night, just a total sweetheart. About wine, bien sur. She committed the cardinal sin of wine talk with a wino . . . she asked what my favourite wine was. I mumbled something about oh, the wine I'll drink with you will be my favourite, or something close - my memory of the night is hazy from 11 pm onward. But I did mention that I was a Champagne guy. And she said, I like Champagne, but it's too sweet.

What? Is that the perception that people have about Champagne? Disregarding the fact that people call everything sparkling a Champagne, is that what people think these wines taste like? That's a problem.

What's going on? Are the Champagne houses not doing a good enough job at educating people about their wines? Or are they doing too good of a job, that people associate any cheap sparkling plonk with it? A deadly combination of both, perhaps. I hear it among my friends as well . . . oh, let's pop open some Champagne, and what do you see but a bottle of Henkel or prosecco being opened. And then you realize, mon Dieu, they've never drank a Champagne in their life.

Is this just a silly, pedantic hangup over a name? Perhaps, but there's a deeper issue. People recognize a French wine from a Californian, Chilean from Australian - why is Champagne so abused? This is going to be a big issue, especially if the Champagne houses continue charging what they're charging. If people can buy $15-20 cavas and proseccos and Crémants, and think of them all as Champagnes, why would they pay $40 minimum for the real thing?

Especially if they think it's going to be sweet??!! Someone help me understand.


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