Category Archives: Champagne

Light thoughts

Pleasant Perspectives (Mostly)

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I picked my first garden bouquet for the office vase. It’s the only flower vase in the house due to a flower-unfriendly feline, although at this point she’s getting too old to get at the highest shelves, so maybe we can allow a few more vases this year.

All photos: PKR

All photos: PKR

Forget-me-nots and rosemary in bloom, two of my favorites. The little forget-me-nots are brand new, the rosemary bush is ancient, a bush at the base of a house wall built in 1478. No, the rosemary isn’t quite that old. It dates several decades, though, its twisting, low branches thick as a tree.

Both flowers are often used to represent remembrance, love and fidelity, overcoming challenges to remain loyal.

The other good perspective on the weekend was the movie we went to see last night. Actually, not so much the movie, which we enjoyed. Even if the average age in the movie theater was under 18. That’s what we get for going to a Friday night showing of Captain America: Civil War.

Mumm. Not my very favorite, but tasty nonetheless.

Mumm. Not my very favorite, but tasty nonetheless.

But what made the movie all the more enjoyable was the delightful availability of champagne splits at the concession stand. Yes, with glasses. Plastic, sure, but no worse than at a picnic. Sure, it’s more expensive than popcorn and a Coke. But this is Geneva, Switzerland – the difference isn’t quite as much as you might think.

A little champagne during a movie can make bad movies less awful and good movies better by improving the overall experience. Kind of like having the right music at a restaurant meal.

Especially when the movie is about the good guys taking sides against one another. Differences over loyalty and history, big fights with cataclysmic outcomes. Grim stuff.

Glad we had a bit of bubbly for comfort. Good thing I’m practiced in pouring it in the dark, even with 3D glasses.

Comfort Zones

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I’d be the first to admit that my knowledge of tequilas is mainly limited to the stuff I did in shot form back in college in the tradition of salt on the hand and lick (to kill the taste), toss back the shot (grimace), bite the lime (to kill the taste).

I haven’t spent much time revisiting the drink except in the occasional margarita, even if some of those were made with excellent tequila and a variety of juices besides lime. I had a smoky pomegranate version at some point, and the fact that I can’t remember where is an indication of just how good that cocktail was (I want to say it was in Los Angeles? Maybe London?).

Fresh, handmade tortilla chips in a variety of flavors. Addictive. All photos: PKR

Fresh, handmade tortilla chips in a variety of flavors. Addictive.
All photos: PKR

Here’s a suggestion that margaritas assume the new role as the drink of New Year’s Eve, and while I can’t say I’ll be exchanging my champagne flute for a margarita glass at the stroke of midnight, it’s a legitimate proposal.

On a recent trip to Baja California, I had the pleasure of getting outside my comfort zone and into some really good tequila, the kind of stuff that isn’t easy to find outside the country.

My father happens to live near Ensenada, and if he’s as much of a whisky fan as I am, he’s also become something of a tequila aficiodano.

Religious candles, shoe polish and insect spray, an unexpected combination of cylinders.

Religious candles and shoe polish, an unexpected combination of cylinders.

 

One of the tequilas he pulled from the shelf was the Herradura Ultra, a newish addition to the Herradura premium line that is a mixture of añejo (aged 1-3 years) and extra añejo (aged over 3 years). In the case of the Ultra, a 25-month-old añejo is mixed with premium extra añejo that’s been aged in bourbon barrels for up to four years in American White Oak barrels.

 

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The common brown hues are filtered out, some pure agave nectar is added, and the result is a clear drink with a crystalline taste that rings like a bell. It’s got a lovely oakiness, with sweet hints of vanilla, almond and fruit. Meant to be chilled and then served neat, just the way I like the best spirits.

This stuff is so smooth, it has almost no resemblance with the stuff I knew from way back when. Salt on the hand and a lime? Banish the thought!

I was smitten.

Tequila Herradura, as the Grupo Industrial Herradura is generally known, was founded in 1870 in Amatitán, Jalisco, Mexico. The distillery is now owned by U.S. run Brown-Forman, but Herradura continues its traditional production from growing the agave to the finished product, and the spirit is still made from agave hearts roasted in clay ovens, then fermented with wild yeast.

Clown cupcakes, perfect for anyone trying to combat coulrophobia, fear of clowns.

Clown cupcakes, perfect for anyone trying to combat coulrophobia, fear of clowns. Also perfect for anyone trying to induce coulrophobia in others.

We bought two bottles at a supermarket in Enseneda to bring home to France, a place that had a range of tequilas comparable to the whisky shelves in good European supermarkets and which opened my eyes to everything I must be missing. I’m sorry to say that we won’t be drinking our imports all to quickly, because at the time of this writing, Herradura Ultra isn’t yet available in Europe.

You might be wondering why this post doesn’t have any images of the tequila itself in our glasses, or the tequila shelves.

An inexplicable cake and cupcake set featuring what I suppose a Santa's belt cake and elf cap cupcakes. At least, that's my interpretation. There's nothing like going into a large foreign supermarket to get out of your comfort zone when it comes to food assumptions.

An inexplicable cake and cupcake set featuring what I suppose a Santa’s belt cake and elf cap cupcakes. At least, that’s my interpretation.
There’s nothing like going into a large foreign supermarket to get out of your comfort zone when it comes to food assumptions.

Those images, which I had dutifully recorded in anticipation of this post, were lost along with my phone when I dropped it into the Pacific Ocean on an early morning walk. I was dodging an unexpected wave that swamped the shore and took my phone back out to sea with it when it retreated. The images here were from our other camera.

One thing I won’t be dodging in the future is premium tequila.

The phone-thieving and ever unrepentant Pacific.

The phone-thieving and ever unrepentant Pacific.

 

 

 

The Spoils of the Day

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The village of Vufflens-le-Château. All photos: PK Read

The village of Vufflens-le-Château.
All photos: PK Read

Sometimes the constant presence of natural beauty can lead to a certain forgetfulness of the visual bounty all around.

We’ve lived near Lake Geneva for a long time, and while I revel in the views of mountain and lake, I don’t always appreciate just how lovely the area can be.

Fortunately, friend, writer and local expert on the area Catherine Nelson-Pollard invited me along on a day excursion, and I got a good reminder.DSC03701

Twice a year, once in spring and once in fall, hundreds of winegrowers in Switzerland open their cellars to visitors.

I’d characterize the Caves Ouvertes event as one of the few real bargains in Switzerland: For the price is CHF 15 (around $15, or €15), intrepid wine tourists get a wine glass, a little neck pouch to carry it, a wine passport, a map, and almost unlimited tasting opportunities for as many wineries as you can visit in a day.

A free bus service takes pass-carriers from vineyard to vineyard along a number of possible routes in each wine-producing canton.

View of the Alps from Vufflens-le-Château, Switzerland

View of the Alps from Vufflens-le-Château, Switzerland

We did a short route in the canton of Vaud, which neighbors Geneva.

Swiss wines aren’t widely known outside the region. They tend to be lighter than their French or New World relations.

Production levels are generally small, and vineyards dot the lakeside, the hills and mountain foothills in small parcels. Almost all are tended by hand. This is not a business of vast profits and expandability of scale. DSC03704

 

A glorious day in mid-May, white clouds blown across the lake by a bise wind rendered gentle by the warm temperatures and the sunshine. Here a château, there a wall curving inward with age.

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I had driven over the border from France, so my car was waiting for me back in Nyon, a short train trip from where the wine tours started.

Because I’d have to drive home later, I maintained a strict tasting regimen – small sips, lots of water, dumping the remainder of the tasting sample once I had determined whether I liked it or not. It’s the most sober wine tasting I think I’ve ever experienced. At least, for my part.DSC03713

Over the course of the afternoon, fellow travellers in other groups got ruddy faced. Someone next to me forgot the wine glass she had just put in her neck pouch and broke it against a table.

It was time to head home.

But not before buying a few bottles to share at home.

A good reminder to extend my local range from time to time, and not take its beauty for granted.

Ingredients for an excellent day: My wine pouch and glass - which I carried safely in a backpack rather than around my neck. The green wine passport, the wines, my train ticket, and a bit of old Seamus Heaney for reading on the train. Not seen here: the companionship of friends.

Ingredients for an excellent day: My wine pouch and glass – which I carried safely in a backpack rather than around my neck. The green wine passport, the wines, my train ticket, and a bit of old Seamus Heaney for reading on the train. Not seen here: the companionship of friends.

Maui Mixology

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I’m not sure what I was expecting from the poolside cocktail mixing class at the Hotel Wailea on Maui – the reinforcement of a few basics, maybe a couple of exotic ingredients in a familiar drink. We’d signed up the day before for the mixology class, but by the time it rolled around at 11 a.m., we felt like we’d already had a long day of intense touristing behind us, working hard to get the most out of our vacation.

Just after dawn on Haleakala, a wild mix of clouds and colors.

Just after dawn on Haleakala, a wild mix of clouds and colors.

We’d spent the morning making the drive from the coast of Maui up to the summit of Haleakala to watch the sunrise from 10,000 feet above the ocean, high above the clouds and slopes of Maui. We’d gotten up at 3 a.m., watched the 7 a.m. sunrise, and gave ourselves a pat on the back for getting up early and seeing such a spectacular sight as a reward.

Sometimes having fun requires a genuine effort.

Kerry, the beverage wizard who was teaching the mixology class, blithely dispensed with cocktail basics within the first ten minutes. What she really wanted to talk about was a lesson altogether more fundamental: the place in life where we take what we have on hand and make something wonderful. Less hard work, more appreciation.

For example, simple syrups. Sure, anyone can buy a simple syrup – that basic sweetener, water and sugar cooked together. And adding a flavor to that concoction is nothing new.

A few samples of simple syrup: Honey, jalapeño, rose, lavender, hibiscus.

A few samples of simple syrup: Honey, jalapeño, rose, lavender, hibiscus.

What I liked about Kerry’s approach was the notion of making just about anything into simple syrup, the spices or herbs or flowers or chilis or leaves that are in the kitchen, in the refrigerator, in the garden or blooming on the balcony. I especially liked her low-heat approach to processing these ingredients – in a blender with water and sugar, and then some time sitting in the sun before straining – adding sunlight to maintain pure flavors and come up with a lavender mojito, or a hibiscus margarita.

She introduced our small class to the lovely Pau Vodka, a Maui-produced spirit based on pineapple. Now, pineapple was introduced to the Hawaiian islands by the Spanish, so technically it’s not an indigenous plant – but Hawaii is the only U.S. state which produces pineapple. Pineapple cultivation might be a fraught subject, but the vodka was a delight, with a hint of the fruit’s tangy sweetness.

(Ocean Vodka is Maui’s other locally-produced vodka, one we didn’t try – and one more reason to go back to the island. Another would be the pineapple wines of the Tedeschi Vineyards.)

The well-used hydrosols - basil, lime, allspice, etc., with the simple syrup bottles and a few of the fruits used.

The well-used hydrosols – basil, lime, allspice, etc., with the simple syrup bottles and a few of the fruits used.

Kerry also had a number of hydrosols – the bi-product of essential oil distillation and condensed water left over after steam or water distillation – on hand. Not something I’d likely produce on a regular basis in my own kitchen, but easy enough to get at the local health food store.

After a morning of trying hard to get the most out of the day, the class was a lesson in taking life as it comes and making the best of what’s right in front us.

Back home and thoroughly bundled up against the Arctic temperatures both outside and inside our old stone house, I’m trying to do just that.

I think I’ll start with this:

 

 

 

Simple, Slow, Good

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We harvested the last of the mirabelles today under heavy skies and to the sound of rolling thunder, the first raindrops already falling as we packed away the ladder and hurried inside with the last couple of kilos of yellow plums.

There’s something so simple and satisfying about making old-fashioned jams and cordials, a word that has a distinctly Victorian ring to my ears. Or at least, it’s simple and satisfying once the pots have all been put away and the kitchen is clean.

We were in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago, and I was talking to one of the fellows behind the bar at The Library in the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood.

A vodka cocktail from The Library.

A vodka cocktail from The Library.

It’s a dimly lit place of deep leather seats and candles, with thick stacks of books piled up as table supports. The kind of place that invites spending more time than foreseen, and maybe a few unplanned confessions

After we’d tried the first couple of surprising cocktails, I had to go over and see what this guy was up to. I’ve never had such a bright pomegranate vodka martini; the margarita was spiked with unexpected cilantro and green chili.

As it turned out, the countertop looked more like a salad bar than a standard bar for booze. Fresh fruits, everything from pears and pomegranates to bell peppers and chills. Not to mention a wide variety of fresh herbs in bunches. Any juice for a drink is crushed or squeezed on the spot, the herbs mashed with a mortar and pestle.

A not-so-great picture, taken in very low light, of a small part of the bar counter.

A not-so-great picture, taken in very low light, of a small part of the bar counter.

Impressive.

What I liked even more was the time taken to really pay attention to each concoction, including the strawberry/balsamic vinegar/vodka creation I had (top picture), topped with a foam of elderflower St. Germain liqueur.

Sure, it all takes longer, just like cooking up and straining mirabelles for a couple of liters of sunny golden cordial. Still, so satisfying, a real pleasure.

 

Redcurrant Cordial

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The cordial. A big bottle for the fridge, a small jar for gifting (well, there were quite a few of these, most of them already given away now), and a glass for the cook.

The cordial. A big bottle for the fridge, a small jar for gifting (well, there were quite a few of these, most of them already given away now), and a glass for the cook.

I’d had a romantic vision in my mind about making redcurrant cordial, something more in keeping with the  word ‘cordial’. What I hadn’t anticipated was the 7 kilos (15 pounds) of redcurrants my single bush would yield under not very thorough picking.

The simple recipe (see below) became a more complicated logistical matter of our largest soup pot, two other large pots, stockings, and four hands. I completely failed at finding the picturesque muslin frame for draining fruit, or for that matter, finding any muslin in our rural area. Wine making tools, beekeeping equipment: no problem. Muslin and jelly frames? Forget it.

The simple notion of boiling a few redcurrants with water and straining them became a multi-step event that involved my partner in crime holding open a pair of (brand-new) knee-high stockings over a pot while I skilfully ladled large quantities of currant pulp into the waiting stockings. After two attempts and three skin burns, he stopped me.

What I didn't have, but what I will be ordering for future cordial-making. Source: Eatweeds

What I didn’t have, but what I will be ordering for future cordial-making.
Source: Eatweeds

“Where are those weird potato peeling gloves your late grandmother gave us ten years ago?” The ones we’d never used until now, still fresh in their original packing, right under the sink where we parked them in bewilderment at what we would ever need them for. Thanks, Grammy!360545351573_6 A few iterations later, the stockings were harnessed to the handles of the large soup pot, merrily straining the rest of the juices from the thousands of redcurrant seeds and bits of skin left behind. Sadly, I was too consumed in the making to document the picturesque sight of stockings filled with current pulp. Also, by that time it was almost midnight.

But the cordial is delicious – sweet, tart, full of summer flavor. Worth the effort. I made this Swedish version of the cordial from SwedishFood.com, but used a bit less sugar than called for because I like the tartness of the fruit.

Ingredients

500 g (1 lb) redcurrants, 180 g (6 oz) fine sugar, juice from 1 lemon

1. Rinse the currants, leave them on their stalks but remove any coarse stalks.

2. Put the berries in a saucepan and add 120 ml (½ cup) of water. Bring to the boil and let simmer until the berries have burst (about ten minutes, much longer if, like me, you have several kilos worth of fruit).

3. Line a sieve with muslin (or use a stand as shown above) and strain the cooked currants. I don’t actually recommend knee-high stockings as a sieve, but they work in a pinch. Wear thick gloves if you are holding open the stockings.

4. Return the juice to the saucepan and add the sugar and lemon juice. Bring to boil and let simmer for 3 minutes. Remove any scum from the surface with a spoon.

5. Pour the hot liquid through a funnel into a sterilised bottle. (Sterilise by washing and then placing in an oven at 120°C (240°F, gas 1) for 5 minutes.)

6. Cool.

We’ll be mostly drinking the cordial mixed with sparkling water, champagne or prosecco (at a ratio of about 1:8) but it can be used in salad dressings, poured over ice cream, frozen, or added to hot water for a refreshing hot drink.

The Taste of Shape

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Champagne Glasses (1937) Source: Antique Helper

Champagne Glasses (1937)
Source: Antique Helper

There’s no denying that the utensils we use, the presentation we choose and the serving methods employed affect how we experience what crosses our palate. That’s as true for lemon tart as it is for champagne.

Champagne glasses, like those for many other beverages, have undergone a transformation over the centuries. From the mugs or goblets made of silver, to tall glasses, to the flat coupe glasses of the 19th century, to the delicately stemmed flutes that gained popularity in the 20th century but which are so difficult to wash without breaking. And now, more changes are afoot.

The flute, L'Instant Taittinger (1980s)

The flute, L’Instant Taittinger (1980s). Modern flutes have a ballooned lower section rather than the old-fashioned V or U shape.

Riedl, an Austrian company with a history almost as long as Champagne itself, wants to change the way we drink the bubbly. And not just Champagne – it wants to tailor specific glasses to specific sparkling wines.

According to Decanter.com, Dom Perignon’s chef de cave, Richard Geoffroy, advocates a large Pinot Noir glass made by Riedl if one wants to fully appreciate his house’s Rosé.

Riedl Pinot Noir XL

Riedl Vinum Pinot Noir XL

There’s some noise about stemless glasses. More practical, yes. But is Champagne really about practicality?

Non-stemmed flutes.

Stemless flutes. These are listed on Amazon as ‘pomponne’ style, which I think is a misnomer.

And what to make of the pomponne, the stemmed flute with no base at all, which cannot be set down until drunk empty? I feel this puts the drinker under pressure to finish a glass and find then find some safe way of putting down the glass without breaking it.

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Pomponne glasses.

There has to be some balance between practicality and extremism. Surely life is stressful enough without adding more to what should be a pleasurable experience?

I guess the only way to approach this undertaking is scientifically, which I’m sure Riedl and other glass manufacturers have already done countless times. A blind tasting based not on several Champagnes, but on several glasses. Blindfolded judges who have glasses, all filled with the same Champagne, held to their lips by tasting assistants. Only then will we be able to assess which glass truly favors a specific Champagne and brings it to its full flower.

Here at ChampagneWhisky, we have our own preferences and habits when it comes to serving Champagne.

We have a set of stemless flutes, but I find that if I am deeply involved in a conversation, forget to set down my Champagne, or don’t drink quickly enough, the poor stuff goes a bit tepid.

We have perfectly serviceable, long-stemmed flutes if we have more than eight guests.Untitled4

For under eight guests, we have a few collections of more or less matching 19th-century glasses which we have collected over the years. Fluted body, stout stems, like the ones above (which are not ours but are very similar).

And for days when we just don’t care: Antique absinthe glasses. Big V-shaped gems for reckless consumption. Because sometimes, it just tastes better that way.

Source: Jules Cheret

Source: Jules Cheret

Dom Perignon‘s chef de cave, Richard Geoffroy, is another fervent critic of the flute and advocates Riedel’s Vinum XL Pinot Noir glass for DP Rose.
Read more at http://www.decanter.com/news/blogs/team/584594/my-goal-is-to-make-champagne-flutes-obsolete-says-maximilian-riedel#JeQIJYEfAAkZMmhU.99

Dom Perignon‘s chef de cave, Richard Geoffroy, is another fervent critic of the flute and advocates Riedel’s Vinum XL Pinot Noir glass for DP Rose.
Read more at http://www.decanter.com/news/blogs/team/584594/my-goal-is-to-make-champagne-flutes-obsolete-says-maximilian-riedel#JeQIJYEfAAkZMmhU.99
Dom Perignon‘s chef de cave, Richard Geoffroy, is another fervent critic of the flute and advocates Riedel’s Vinum XL Pinot Noir glass for DP Rose.
Read more at http://www.decanter.com/news/blogs/team/584594/my-goal-is-to-make-champagne-flutes-obsolete-says-maximilian-riedel#JeQIJYEfAAkZMmhU.99
Dom Perignon‘s chef de cave, Richard Geoffroy, is another fervent critic of the flute and advocates Riedel’s Vinum XL Pinot Noir glass for DP Rose.
Read more at http://www.decanter.com/news/blogs/team/584594/my-goal-is-to-make-champagne-flutes-obsolete-says-maximilian-riedel#JeQIJYEfAAkZMmhU.

Pantry Bubbly

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imagesThere are a few staples people always like to have around the house. Whether it’s rice, or eggs, or beer, or bread, if it’s not in the pantry, the pantry is lacking – even if full of other things.

It should come as no surprise that one of these items in our household is champagne (well, whisky, too, but today I’m talking about champagne). We moved to France almost twenty years ago, and I while I loved the drink long before we came here, it’s status as a pantry staple dates to our relocation here.

Our staple bubbly, the Brut Nicolas Feuillatte NV, isn’t overly fancy nor particularly expensive, it’s not necessarily the stuff of special occasions and celebrations or for a fine dinner with friends, and it’s not from a small producer, but it’s reliable and it’s tasty.

It’s dry and finely pearled, with a pale gold colour. I always associate it with a light straw aroma, with apple and pear notes. If you ask me, it goes with most things, including little more than good conversation, or a warm fire in the fireplace.

Nicolas Feuillatte Champagnes are made from the mainly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes supplied by the Centre Vinicole – Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte (CV-CNF) cooperative. Established in the early 1970s, the union is now the largest in Champagne, representing 82 smaller cooperatives and 5000 wine growers. The brand is among the most successful champagne producers, the third largest in the world.

The Nicolas Feuillate facility in Epernay, France.

The Nicolas Feuillate facility in Epernay, France.

I wrote recently that many great Champagne houses once carried the names of widows who had successfully carried on the family business – unfortunately, due to old French property laws, the only way a woman could act as the head of a company was if she married the proprietor, and was subsequently widowed.

Considering how much women contributed to the growth of the industry, it’s a bit odd that Champagne production is once again primarily seen as a male domain. Even the Nicolas Feuillatte web presence has a page titled Our Values – The Men. Having said that, it’s worth mentioning that the current President of the CV-CNF, Véronique Blin, is a woman born into a family of Champagne producers.

At any rate, the cupboard here at ChampagneWhisky always needs a bottle or two of Nicolas Feuillatte to feel well and truly stocked for all occasions, even it it’s just the evening news.

 

 

 

Whisky Women, Champagne Widows

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ChampagneWhisky.com wouldn’t be ChampagneWhisky if it weren’t for women in whisky and champagne. And not just the one sitting here behind the keyboard writing this post.

I’m just going to put up a couple of excerpts today, in honor of International Women’s Day 2014, which has been celebrated for a century on March 8.

“In Whiskey Women: The Untold Story Of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch And Irish Whiskey, US writer Fred Minnick says that despite the drink’s macho image, women played a key role in its history.

A woman places labels on Old Crow bourbon bottles sometime in the early 1900s. Photo: Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History / NPR

A woman places labels on Old Crow bourbon bottles sometime in the early 1900s.
Photo: Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History / NPR

“Not only did they invent the first stills, they were involved in bootlegging during the Prohibition era, led the repeal movement and whipped up demand for uisge beatha worldwide.

But it is those Scottish women who not only owned and managed distilleries, but modernised them, increasing their capacity and profile, that Minnick credits with transforming the industry.” (from The Scotsman)

Elizabeth Cumming, who owned the Cardow (Cardhu) distillery in Speyside in the late 19th century, took over the business when her husband died, and successfully expanded it before selling to John Walker & Sons, known these days as Johnnie Walker.

Bessie Williamson, who owned Laphroaig in Islay in the 20th century (due to the death of its original male owner, her boss) is credited with laying the groundwork for the popularity of peaty single malt whisky today.

Veuve Clicquot Source: Wine Sisterhood

Veuve Clicquot
Source: Wine Sisterhood

And, on the bubbly side:

“‘Champagne is the story of widows,’ said Francois Godard, scion of Veuve Godard et Fils Champagne house. ‘Women who lost their husbands, and then outshone the men.’

Widowhood gave these figures an independent social status in France. Unlike other women – who were the property of a father or a husband – only a widow could become a CEO.

‘In the 19th century … if you’re not married you’re dependent on your father, you can’t have a bank account and you can’t pay staff. If you are married you are reliant on your husbands,’ explained Fabienne Moreau, Veuve Clicquot’s archivist. ‘Only a widow can take this position as head of a company.’

Experts say that Champagne was one of the first industries in the modern world that women shaped and in which they enjoyed a prominent role.” (from Daily Mail)

Brut Champagne was invented by the Veuve (‘Widow’) Pommery at the behest of another widow, Queen Victoria, who liked the drink but found it too sweet. The ‘Veuve’ was dropped from the Pommery name at some point, and many other houses established by widowed Champagne women, like Bollinger, no longer carry the signifier.

“I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it when I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it. Unless I’m thirsty.” – Lily Bollinger Source: Wine Sisterhood

“I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it when I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it. Unless I’m thirsty.” – Lily Bollinger
Source: Wine Sisterhood

There was a time (1500-1660) when European governments  burned women for distilling liquor, labelling them witches. We are past the outdated marriage customs and property laws when women could only be taken seriously in business if they had been married and then widowed (well, in some countries, anyway), yet somehow the whisky and champagne businesses have still come to be seen as a man’s world again.

So on this day, a clink of the glass to the women of whisky and champagne, and all the women who hold up half the world. centredinternationalwomensdaySome of my fellow whisky women writers:

Rachel MacNeill – Whisky for Girls

Allison Patel – The Whisky Woman