How Often Do You Get A Kick From Champagne?
I recently wrote a Slate column bemoaning the fact that Champagne has been so thoroughly pigeonholed as a seasonal/celebratory tipple and asking what it would take to get people to start treating it as a regular wine—to drink it more frequently, and with meals. I suggested that grower Champagnes, with their strong vinous character and emphasis on site expression, particularly demand to be approached this way. One point I did not make in the article is that I think that for the grower movement to ultimately succeed, a critical mass of consumers needs to be persuaded to look at Champagne in a new light—to drink it more often, to care about differences between individual sites, and to give it the kind of contemplation that they give other wines. The big idea driving the movement is that the vast Champagne appellation is not one contiguous terroir, that there are meaningful distinctions within and between the region’s many vineyards and that these distinctions are worth exploring—not only by winemakers, but by wine drinkers. But unless enough wine drinkers can be convinced to do that, I think the farmer fizz revolution, which has gone such a long way towards redefining Champagne, is destined to remain incomplete.
So I’m curious to know: How often do you drink Champagne? Do you drink it only as an aperitif, or do you sometimes serve it with meals? Do you care about what distinguishes, say, Aÿ from Avize, or is that a level of detail that doesn’t interest you when it comes to Champagne? If any retailers are reading, I’d love to get your views, too. How tough is it to sell Champagne outside the month of December? Do you see any indication that consumers are beginning to take Champagne more seriously—are they buying it more often, are they more inclined to drink it with food, are they expressing curiosity about individual terroirs? Or is it still seen as just a frivolous beverage that you uncork on holidays and special occasions?