As the New Year is upon us, I suspect that more than a few of us will be popping some champagne corks soon!
Champagne is so wonderfully transportive and chock full of meaning that it makes my nature related heart burst. Why IS it that we associate champagne with gratitude, with hope, with joy? Somehow, we the people look at a bottle of champagne and ascribe to it everything we associate with the best of the human experience. It is almost like we don´t know where the drink ends and the human begins. We are kind of one. I mean, come on, often times we don´t even drink the champagne. We shake the bottle, pop the cork, and just let the fizz flow to celebrate winning a championship title. And, curiously, we crack the bottle over the hull of a ship to wish her well on her maiden voyage. It´s as though, the fizz is alive and has powers of its own.
As it transpires, champagne became a secular replacement for many religious rituals – particularly after the French Revolution. Which is one way to explain why champagne began to take on such great meaning – meaning that you likely associate with fizz, whether you like the taste of it or not.
What IS so special about champagne? Well, I think it is the experience of the bubbles, or the effervescence. Champagne IS, literally, full of life. The creation of the bubbles is a natural process. Micro-organisms that we call yeasts transform the grape sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide through fermentation. It took ages to perfect the champagne process, but that process wasn’t necessarily man’s creation, it was a collaboration between man and nature and the result was an utterly transportive drink that makes us feel oh so alive. And, at the end of the day, that is exactly what the experience of nature relatedness through food is all about.
So, this New Year, as you chink your glasses, perhaps say a wee toast not just to the life you can see, but even the microscopic lifeforms (like the yeasts in your flute) upon which your life not only depends, but makes your life worth living.
Happy, happy New Year!