I have no problem setting aside a day of the year to honor Champagne, but why just one day? Champagne is a beverage which should be honored frequently. In truth, producers of true Champagne, those sparkling wines made only in the Champagne region of France, would like wine drinkers to celebrate everyday with a glass or two of their bubbly elixirs.
True Champagne is one of the most luxurious wines. And like any luxury item, there are a lot of cheap imitations out there. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., Champagne Bureau USA is constantly on the look out for fakes. About 1,000 instances of pirating the word Champagne — on everything from bottled water to mustard — are investigated worldwide annually.
Most wine regions make sparkling wines. Some are made with the exact grapes and the same labor-intensive methods employed in making true Champagne, but these wines are not Champagne because they are not from the region of Champagne.
The Champagne Bureau USA runs ads to drive this point home. One recent ad asks if you would buy Maine lobsters from Kansas.
In Calhoun County, the answer to that question is a resounding “no,” because in the wee hours of Saturday morning, on Oct. 26, a refrigerated truck will arrive at Grace Episcopal Church in Anniston laden with the real thing, live and kicking Maine lobsters for the church’s annual Lobsterfest. The event, now in its 17th year, benefits Habitat for Humanity.
Tickets for lobsters must be purchased in advance and sell out quickly. Tickets may be purchased from church members or from the church office located on the corner of 10th Street and Leighton Avenue.
The event runs from noon to 7 p.m. Full lobster meals are $22 and single lobsters — either cooked or kicking — are $16. Bake sale items, crafts and hot dogs will also be sold.
Since Global Champagne Day falls one day before Lobsterfest, I plan to celebrate both by feasting on real Maine lobsters washed down with real French Champagne.
Lobster, like Champagne, is a luxury item and consistently makes it to the top 10 list of the world’s most luxurious foods.
Neither is to be had at bargain prices, but $22 for a worthy cause and a full lobster dinner is a bargain. While some true Champagnes are less costly than others, there are no bargains for real Champagne. Entry level in our market area for a good bottle of the real stuff is in the $50 range for a number of brands including Veuve Clicquot, Moet, Piper Heidsieck and Roederer. Although there are pricier brands on the market, the best price found locally on a prestige brand is Vintage 2003 Dom Pérignon at Publix for $159.99. The least expensive true Champagne found in recent years is Costco’s $20 Kirkland brand. This is a perfectly sound French Champagne, but tends to be a seasonal item available only around the holidays.
Publix in Oxford has the largest selection of Champagne in our area, but Winn-Dixie in Golden Springs and our two major wine stores, Tyson’s Fine Wine & Things in Golden Springs and The Wine Cellar on Quintard, also have choice selections.
Purchase a bottle now from one of the above purveyors. Refrigerate so it will be nicely chilled in time for Lobsterfest.
Email Pat Kettles at firstname.lastname@example.org