Nov 13 2008

Chef’s memories captured in Champagne bubbles

Published by at 3:11 PM under Savvy Sip Tips,Sparkling Wine

Wine is so much more than a drink. Much as we enjoy it every day, it’s even more a part of our special occasions. Few toasts are made with diet soda. Wine, in all its forms, carries associations of time, of place, of significant people and events.

Melissa Graham has a lifetime of memories encapsulated in Champagne bubbles. Graham is a chef; owner of Monogramme Events & Catering, a boutique catering company that specializes in seasonal and sustainable cuisine; and president and founder of Purple Asparagus, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing families back to the table by promoting and enjoying all things associated with good eating. To that end, you can often find Graham shopping at the Green City Market, where she serves as the membership chair.

We asked Graham about her first experience with wine. As it turns out, she was destined to run Purple Asparagus, because her own first taste of fine food and drink came at a tender age.

“My love of Champagne began, believe it or not, when I was 3 years old.  As the story goes, on a flight to Florida, my parents gave me a tiny plastic cup filled with the golden bubbles. Whether out of curiosity or for their own amusement, they fully expected me to wrinkle up my tiny nose and push it away. Little did they know that it would go down easily, and I would ask for more.

“My love of Champagne only grew stronger when it helped me through the death of my first marriage. I lived with a good friend during those difficult days who opportunely owned a large and varied collection of Champagne. His earnest belief was that one could not be truly unhappy while drinking Champagne.

“It was with this theory in mind that I chilled two bottles of wine before the election rally in Grant Park last week. The first was a sparkling wine from Oregon. My hope was that if the evening did not go well, we couldn’t feel too hopeless while drinking something related to Champagne. The second, the wine that ultimately was drunk, was the Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 1995, a wine whose taste lived up to its prodigious name. Rich and nutty, with big golden bubbles, full-bodied … it flowed down as easily as that first sip from my bemused parents. A perfect way to toast a new president and a new day in America.”

What are your wine memories? Big or small, we’d love to hear them all. Please share your comments below, because that’s what wine is all about: sharing.

Do you need something bubbly to celebrate the momentous occasions in your own life? Just Grapes has all kinds of sparkling wine, Champagne and otherwise.

And if you were watching Jay Leno’s man-on-the-street quiz last night and still wondering, Champagne is from the Champagne region in France. Bubbly from other places is named according to the grape or style: Prosecco, Cava, etc. Watch December’s newsletter for a full explanation. And see more of Graham’s conversation at Cheers!

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