On Eating and Loving Food

Seven bubblies and a cupcake

And 1968: A summer of high highs and low lows
Posted:  Wednesday, January 31, 2018 - 9:30am
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I love bubblies of all colors and prices. It’s been a while since I’ve drunk Andres, but give me an eight-dollar bottle of Barefoot Bubbly and I’m good to go.

Not all sparklers are Champagnes. The grapes used in Champagne are actually grown in the Champagne region of France. Other bubblies are sparkling wines. I don’t care. I love them all.

They make me happy. There are theories that the bubbles in sparkling wines actually make for a quicker “high,” due to the carbon dioxide in them speeding the flow of alcohol into the intestines. Why that should make me feel giddy is beyond me, but I'll run with it.

Seeing those pretty bubbles wiggling their way to the surface through a pale golden or pink wine in an elegant glass just makes me smile. Always has, at least since the summer of  ’68 (more on that below).

Anyway.

Around a month ago I whined a little on Facebook about wanting someone, anyone, to teach me how to tell the difference between cheap and pricey wines. I got the ball rolling for a wine tasting at the Carriage House in East Boothbay. It quickly evolved into a Champagne/bubbly-tasting, after Holly Stover suggested enlisting wine expert Maia Gosselin.

Maia is no slouch when it comes to wine. She knows far more than just the difference between cheap and pricey wines. She has appeared on the Channel 6 show, “207,” several times, and owns the company, Sip Wine Education.

She’s a bubbly lover, too. Unlike me she can take a sip of a sparkling wine and sense the subtle little flavors and things like minerality going on there.

So on Jan.  27 a group of 14 women gathered at the Carriage House, where Maia very generously presented seven different bubblies for us to sample. As she poured tastes for us, she gave us a comprehensive crash course in sparkling wines from around the world.

The beautiful bubbly wines ranged from a slightly sweet Prosecco, Marsuret, from Veneto, Italy, to a Champagne, ranging in price from $12 to $40. There were pretty pale pink ones and delightful clear white ones – all sparkling with bubbles.

There was a Cava from Spain, Gran Gesta, and an Armenian sparkling wine, Keush, that Maia described as “extremely elegant.” I love elegant anything. Especially sparkling wine :-) There was a sparkling rose from Italy, Rotari. She described it as “Elegant and dry with a lovely minerality.”

I’m working on learning to taste that minerality. Pam O’Connor, who sat across from me at the event, gets it. She’s going to help me. She said she noticed it on the sides of her tongue, bringing to mind putting something metallic, like a nail, in her mouth when she was a kid.

One of Maia’s favs was the Cremant de Bourgogne, Bailly la Pierre, from Burgundy. Another was Gruet Rose.

The last sip of bubbly she poured, and possibly the star of the show, was a Champagne called La Cle de la Femme, I kid you not. It had a really cool label.

That Champagne had a “fresh, mineral finish,” according to Maia, and I swear to god, if it didn’t retail for around $40 I’d go out and buy a bottle and curl up on the couch drinking it until I got that metallic taste. “Aha!” I’d shout. “There it is!!”

Anyway, it was a pretty awesome evening with a gaggle of elegant women from the area. Andy and Adele Bielli put together some awesome name tag/necklaces made from plastic Champagne glasses, and Kelly Farrin put out some delicious apps.

Along with Maia’s beautiful sparklers, each attendee got a gift bag with a cupcake created by Jessica Deshiro of Mammy’s Bakery in Wiscasset. Some were dark chocolate with pink honey buttercream frosting and edible gold sparkles, and some were lemon with a raspberry buttercream frosting and a fresh raspberry. They were gorgeous, and scrumptious.

And thanks to the beauty of making connections in our fabulous little community, Maia will be featuring one of Jessica’s cupcakes with one of her favorite pink bubblies on a special Valentine’s Day segment of ‘207’ sometime soon. I’ll keep you posted.

In case you’re wondering about my love of pink Champagne starting in the summer of  ’68 ...

I was working at the Samoset in Rockland, back when it was a huge, beautiful, classic old hotel, before it burned and was replaced with the modern one it is now.

Fresh out of high school, after graduating without honors, I went from living with my mother, father and three siblings in Sanford to a co-ed dorm filled with other 18- to 22-year-olds from all over the country. An eye-opening summer.

There were some unforgettable highs and lows that summer. One of the most memorable lows was breaking up with my high school boyfriend, who had graduated with high honors, as salutatorian. More about that in the memoirs.

Another unforgettable low: Our dog, Topsy, died. That still makes me sad, and always will.

The most memorable high that summer happened July 22, when I turned 18, the drinking age back then, before it reverted back to 21. On that perfect sunny day, my mother and father appeared and surprised me with a bottle of pink Champagne. It made me feel like a grownup.

Then, six days after my pink bubbly birthday, my summer bestie’s father was killed in an accident on his way up to Cushing from their home in Connecticut.

Sally Thompson’s family had a place up the road from my cottage. They called it “the farm.” I emailed her recently to ask if that did indeed happen the same summer I turned 18.

“July 22, 1968, was just another day at the farm,” she wrote. “Carefree, and life was good. But on July 28, I answered a call from the Massachusetts police about Dad. That day would change my life forever. I decided that this was the new normal, and not a good one, but it has given me the skills to deal with life as it throws us curves.”

1968: A summer of high highs and low lows.

Let’s end this on a high note: The Telegraph website reports that a test was conducted at Reading University a few years ago, where scientists gave some rats Champagne every day for six weeks, then placed them in a maze. After drinking Champagne the little buggers had a notably higher success rate at completing the maze. The conclusion was that compounds in the two grapes used for champagne – Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier – can improve memory and spatial awareness “to the extent that three glasses a week could help delay the onset of degenerative brain disorders, such as dementia."

Enough said. Cheers!

See ya next week.

Boothbay Register and Wiscasset Newspaper (and parent company Maine-OK Enterprises, Inc.) were not sponsors, planners, and/or promoters of the event discussed in this column.  We also request of anyone choosing to participate in events of this nature to abide by Maine State Laws and encourage the use of designated drivers.