a99kitten’s Musings

I blog about a WHOLE LOT of stuff :)

The 1 word descriptions for champagne even sound fantastic and fun! There a few witty quotes about champagne that I always smile at…

“my only regret in life is that I didn’t drink enough Champagne”
~ John Maynard Keynes

“there comes a time in every woman’s life when the only thing that helps is a glass of Champagne”
~ Bette Davis

“in a perfect world, everyone would have a glass of Champagne every evening”
~ Willie Gluckstern

“why do I drink Champagne for breakfast? doesn’t everyone?”
~ Noel Coward

But I think my favorite today is..

“I only drink Champagne 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 if I am not hungry and drink it when I am. otherwise I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty”
~ Lily Bollinger


I just took down all of the balloons from my Super Bowl party. Boo :( I love balloons! But more boo is that it means football is over for the season. I used to have the Pro Bowl to ease it out but no longer since they changed the schedule and put that on the week before the Super Bowl (genius…) So now my football season ends with a Super Bowl bang. I’m sad.

My fantasy team sucked this year. I almost made it into the play-offs. But that’s like almost winning Miss Congeniality at the beauty pageant. 10 teams in our league and 6 go to play-offs. I think I was 7. Whee! Meh. I was commissioner (have been for the past couple years) and I had one simple rule. You are not allowed to draft Michael Vick. He is off limits in my league. Don’t like it? Go play somewhere else. I’ll try not to cry over the loss of your team. So what happens? 2 different teams draft him at different points in the season. One of them the week they are playing me! Hellllooooooo. But both of those team managers had the good sense to realize their egregious error and not actually play him on game day.

Then the next genius to draft him (yes…a 3rd manager…what is wrong with you people?) does so on the weekend I was away in Florida dealing with the death of my little brother. I had other things on my mind than dealing with ass clowns so I didn’t do anything. I wish I did. The guy even sends a note saying how he will donate $5 to my favorite animal charity (I set that price last year…it will go up next year to $100) but it was worth the price to have the points. Hahaha. Yeah – that’s what he said. To me. One of the biggest dog/animal lovers he will ever know and the commissioner of the league. OK. Forever banned from my league. Seriously. Idget.

I did OK in the weekly picks. I think I won twice. Maybe 3 times but I think twice and tied another is correct. So I think I basically even out there? I am also the commissioner there and that is giant hassle as I have to collect the winnings each week and dole them out. I need to come up with a better system next year OR people pay a commissioner fee (other friends of mine who are league commissioners say their buy-in is paid by all the players for doing all of the accounting and work – wth?? I am being cheesed!)

Then we did the play-off/SuperBowl picks. Everyone had NE or ATL winning the Super Bowl. I had NE and GB in the Super Bowl as did one other person. We rule :) It came down to us and so we split the pot. My general personality is to let that money ride and winner take all. However, several years ago when PIT was the wild card 6th seed in the play-offs, that no one saw coming, they played Seattle in the SB. The pool was down to me and this same friend. I had SEA to win the SB and he had more points from previous play-off games (no one had PIT even going to the SB that year much like GB this year) so if SEA lost, he would win. He offered to just split the pot and said no – let it ride. Doh. I was not making that same mistake this year. Cash in hand is better than cash not in hand :)

Then we had Super Bowl Squares (no, we do not have any gambling problems, why do you ask?) I won the first quarter and Angelus won 3rd quarter. So I was even with my win there (versus the squares I bought) and Angelus will get some good treats with his winnings (that he will share with Storm!)

My Super Bowl party was super fun. It was a gorgeous day on the coast, all the windows and doors open, sun shining (and then beautifully setting), a super fun game and good friends. I made yummy food and people brought yummy stuff. We had bubbly flowing (I like that my friends go with the bubbly flow and don’t demand Bud!) One of my best friends, who knows me so well, brought food for the the buddies! Their own Super Bowl treats – giant ham bones! They got to eat them that night! Plus she bought other treats for them and me – a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Rose. Tasty!

Another friend brought a treat bag that I just took apart tonight – it’s filled with a bottle of Chandon Blanc de Noirs and Moet Chandon Imperial. Tasty X 2! Plus a bunch of Belgian truffles from Brugge (having just returned from Belgium and Romania that afternoon and coming over to watch the game.

And another friend brought a bottle of Prosecco that I can’t wait to try. It’s from the Famiglia Zonin and called DOC. When I saw the label I thought it said DOG and was like – WHOA! Best Prosecco ever! :) But not DOG – it’s DOC. But still excited to try it :)

So all in all a decent football season. I love the game and truly hope there is no strike. That will suck. What the heck will I do with my Sundays..and Mondays…and sometimes Thursdays from September through January??? :(

And now…well….time to stress about March Madness to take my mind off missing football :)

Last Sunday I missed my weekly day of football to go to a champagne tasting event. While I hated missing my football, the event was very, very fun. I meant to note my favorites earlier so will do so now while watching Sunday Night Football :)

We were able to taste some very nice bottles. Some of the “fancier” names/labels (for easy name recognition) were:

2002 Louis Roederer Cristal Brut
Pommery Brut Royal
2000 Moet & Chandon Cuvee Dom Perignon Brut
NV Veuve Clicquot Brut
NV Veuve Clicquot Rose
1998 La Grand Dame
Krug Grand Cuvee Brut
NV Taittinger

Now, there were many other but these are the names most people recognize. Sadly, the pourers for Cristal and Dom both said how people flocked to their tables and only tasted the “stars” and didn’t do the entire table tasting. Stupid. Yes, Cristal is delicious. One of my all time favorites for sure. But I am not going to open a bottle of Cristal on just any ol’ day. It’s a nice/special occasion bottle. So since you are here, and have the opportunity to taste over 50 champagnes, why not take advantage to taste and find new ones that can be opened any ol’ time? Find a good value. Or find a new favorite. Or try something you would have never tried before. It’s why I am here!

Now, my rating system for bubbly tasting is great, good and OK :) And I’ll have to say I only tried one that I wouldn’t buy a bottle of. And that’s only because I just don’t like super sweet ones. So some roses and extra drys don’t fit me.

My favorite was the Cristal. Yes – to me – it is *that* good. I was given a couple bottles years ago and opened one of them a couple years back. Yes – it really is that good. Still need to open my other bottle. But it’s not inexpensive. So for a nice, affordable “daily” drinker (OK, not really “daily” but you know what I mean) try the Taittinger line-up. And more specifically the NV Taittinger La Francaise. All 3 that they were pouring at the table were great. Plus the guy at that table was awesome – very funny and informative. Loved him. Plus they work with/own Domaine Carneros in Napa and I LOVE all of their bubblies (bubblys?) as well. Such a beautiful place to visit. I would highly suggest their flight from the day:

NV Taittinger La Francaise
Taittinger Prestige Brut Rose
2002 Taittinger Millesime

My second affordable favorite was the Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut. This was re-branded to this name this year. It used to be called Moet & Chandon White Star. Guess they didn’t want to be associated with the Titanic anymore :) I served this as the only bubbly at my wedding reception. So I know I like it. Very yummy. And fairly priced.

Obviously the big, established houses have great stuff. They have been in business since the 1700-1800s for a reason. I loved all of the tastes at Veuve. And Taittinger. And Moet. The widow’s is one of the only roses I actually *really**really* like.

The guy at the Pommery table sabered the bottle. He didn’t actually use a saber. But he used a glass. A regular champagne flute. Wha?? It was quite fun to watch! Interestingly, the POP was my least favorite at that table. I have 3 mini-bottles on my desk at work for those *really* stressful days ;) The art on these little bottles is GREAT! My good friend Helen has given all of them to me for various reasons/occasions. Enabler? What? :) They have fun with the art – that’s for sure. But it was a bit sweet for me. But not so sweet that I will turn it down :) Their Brut Royal was my favorite though.

The Nicholas Feuillatte “Blue Label” Brut was very good. And one of the least expensive bottles there. Their 1998 Palmes d’Or was also quite tasty. And the bottle is very pretty :)

Also one of the least expensive bottles was the Gosset Brut Excellence. Very yummy.

K&L Wines did a great job. Each table had a good amount of bottles, no one ran out, and the pourers were very interesting and knowledgeable. The entire parking lot was tented and they had, what looked to be, very tasty apps being served. I had eaten brunch prior to arrival so wasn’t hungry and didn’t try them. But they sure smelled and looked yummy! The huskies would have been very happy to be there :)

They also had an auction to benefit Pets N Need, a local animal shelter. A portion of the ticket sales went to them as well as all of the auction proceeds, which were donated. Husband and I bid on 2 and won them both. A guy tried to snake me on my bid – I smacked him down in literally the last second :) Silly man. I love bubbly and animals even more. So really, the best kind of charity auction for me :)

Tonight I am watching the NYG/ARI Sunday Night game and opening a bottle of Toques et Clochers Cremant de Limoux after a day of football & chores. I found this bubbly last year and really like it!

I won my fantasy week this week (unlike last week where I lost horribly!) I played my husband this week. He was out of town this past week/weekend and this was best for today…usually I do root for him to win but well…I’m competitive too :) I survived Survivor (NE). Only 2 of us left! Two girls might I add :) And tied in the weekly pool – I need a high scoring game in MNF! I used the line as my score/tie breaker so we need 38 or higher by PHI and WAS combined :)

Oh and p.s. my Gators won too!

Wheee!!! My Gators won!!!! Great game! And I got a football fix :) And having 3 TVs on in the house to make sure I don’t miss anything while doing chores is NOT an overkill :)

So I’ve just finished setting my Fantasy team (although will make a check Sunday AM as well), made my Survivor pick and made all my pool picks. I did all of this early because…dundundun….I will not be home to watch football tomorrow…ARGH!!!!! I will be able to catch Fox pre-game stuff and maybe 45 minutes or so of the morning games but made plans for an event on Sunday (while thinking it was on a Saturday – doh!) Plus we have to leave the house early due to our local Pumpkin Festival taking place this weekend and the 2 ways in and out of our little coast side hamlet become clogged with insane tourists looking for pumpkins, crafts, pumpkin-themed food and photo ops for their kids. They do have live bands all day long too.

Don’t get me wrong – I love the festival actually. It is quite fun once you brave the drive. But man…the traffic is actually mind-boggling. If you are coming over the hill from the peninsula or south bay, you are looking at a 2 hour sit in your car on 92 at the peak (12-2) to get into downtown to park. For pumpkins. And ponies. And arts & crafts. Yikes. But a lot of pumpkin-themed food which is quite good…

Anyway – due to this, locals usually either bike,  stay ensconced in their homes with provisions procured on the Friday before the festival, or they leave and are over the hill by 10:30-11:00am AT THE LATEST before the masses really clog the place up. And no coming back home until after 6:00pm (festival ends at 5pm on both Sat and Sun.)

BUT – on Sunday we are going to a very fun sounding event! The Champagne Tent Event at K&L Wine. And it benefits Pets N’Need – YAY! Here is a sample of what we will be tasting:

2003 Louis Roederer Vintage Brut Rosé Champagne
Fleury “Carte Rouge” from Magnum
Pascal Lallement Reserve (being shown in the USA for the first time)
1998 Pommery Brut ‘Cuvee Louise’ Champagne
Ariston Aspasie Cepages d’Antan Champagne (being shown in the USA for the first time)
Gosset Grand Reserve
Phillippe Gonet 3210 (being shown in the USA for the first time)
2002 Taittinger Millesime
Bruno Michel 2002 Vintage (being shown in the USA for the first time)
2000 Moet & Chandon Cuvée Dom Pérignon Brut
Ruinart Blanc de Blanc
Baron Fuente 1996 Vintage (being shown in the USA for the first time)
1998 La Grand Dame
Bonville Belles Voyes
Charles Heidsieck Brut 2000
2000 Cazals (being shown in the USA for the first time)
Tarlant Cuvee Louis
Krug Grand Cuvee

With producers direct from Champagne, France here (yes, I will be polite about the whole champagne/sparkling wine thing…unless they are snooty first:) ) Here is what sold me on the event (besides the above list)…

“We hope that you will join us in welcoming eight great producers from Champagne along with representatives from ten other houses at this exciting event. We will taste well over 40 different Champagnes (including eight for the first time in the USA) at what we promise will be the Champagne event of the year. Joining us from Champagne will be Paul Vincent and Caroline Ariston of Champagne Aspasie, Bruno Lemoine of Fleury and Pascal Lallement, Chantal Gonet of Champagne Philippe Gonet, Bruno Michel of Champagne Bruno Michel, Eric De Brisis of Champagne Baron Fuente, Olivier Bonville of Champagne Franck Bonville, Delphine Cazals of Champagne Claude Cazals and Melanie Tarlant of Champagne Tarlant. Representatives of Krug, Pommery, Gosset, Feuillatte, Ruinart, Veuve-Clicquot, Moet & Chandon, Roederer, Charles Heidsieck and Taittinger will also be on hand to pour their Champagne (many of which are rarely poured at events!) and answer your questions. A portion of ticket sales will benefit Pets N’Need. The event will also feature a silent auction with 100% of the proceeds going directly to this worthwhile charity.

I’m going to try another slow-cooking chicken dish for Sunday as well.  I’ll start it before I leave so I do not have to cook when I get home and can watch the night game! I’ll see how I like it and post the recipe tomorrow night or Monday if I like it :) Will also depend how sleepy I am after bubbly tasting all day ;-)

I am quite excited for it. Very, very sad to miss my football and RedZone Channel though. But I should make it home for most of the night game. All but 2 of my FF players are in the 10:00am games so oh well…what are you going to do :) If I’m losing that badly – I’ll know early to drink more bubbly :)

Today, August 4 is said to be the day Dom Perignon invented champagne back in 1693. Now, I have no idea if this is true. Not sure anyone can confirm this as all parties involved are long gone and record-keeping was a bit spotty back then what with no iPhones, laptops or even a PC around ;-)

The funny thing is naturally occurring bubbles were seen as a problem at the time in wine-making so this was more of a problem than an invention but I’ll take it :) And from what I have read, what was invented back then as a sparkling wine/champagne bears no resemblance to what we love to toast with now.

The Dom :) Looks like its bubbling over to me :)

The Dom :) Looks like its bubbling over to me :)

Now, if you know me, you know I call all bubbly ‘champagne’ (or just bubbly) because that whole “it can’t be called champagne if the grapes aren’t from that region” is phooey to me. But I’ve ranted about that before so won’t re-hash :) So if you are offended if I call a delicious Gloria Ferrar Carneros Cuvee or a Schramsberg Brut “champagne” – you should hang up right now because I simply don’t care if I offended your delicate sensibilities about that.

Champagne is a happy drink.  It can be served, and goes well, with any food – from fanciful 6 course dinners to pizza. A long-standing holiday tradition for me is when trimming my Christmas tree I order pizza and drink champagne. Love this! Another of my favorites treats is, when my husband is out of town and I don’t need to make dinner and feel like being bad, a glass of dry Brut with a McDonald’s cheeseburger and fries. The salty food and sweet but not really that sweet Brut mixture is fantastic!  I *highly* recommend you try it!

But whatever the truth is about the true origins of champagne, we do owe the Dom (not to be confused with the Don!) a big THANK YOU anyway! And I see this as a good enough reason to toast him this evening with a glass of bubbly  – although likely not opening one of my bottles of Dom to do it since I can’t drink the entire thing by myself and it is school night after all :)

If you love champagne like I do, I highly recommend reading “The Widow Clicquot”:

I really liked this book.  A good amount of reading on champagne making history in general plus about the Widow’s life. Fun read for sure. Starts off a bit slow so keep with it :)

And if you really want to try a “fancier” bottle of bubbly but find the prices out of reach, look around for a newly released vintage and just hold onto it for a few years.  They are still pricey but much less so and it’s a great way to enjoy a really nice bottle on a special occasion later. Champagne should be enjoyed within 10 or so years of its vintage year (on bottle.)    Although I had a bottle of Cristal that was given to me as a gift (2 bottles actually) about 13-15 years ago. I finally just opened 1 of them last year and it was GREAT! I need to enjoy the other one soon because if it were to go bad – I would definitely cry over the needless waste of a $400+ bottle of anything!!

And get yourself a champagne stopper so you don’t have to drink it all in 1 night (this is for the less expensive bottles – finish your good ones!) Or *horrors* waste it….this was the best buy ever! I love mine from Beverages & More.  I think it cost like $5.00 or something. I had one from Bed, Bath & Beyond – not as good.

Hope you enjoy some soon!

Today I went to the K&L Wine in Redwood City for their “Sparkling Wines From All Over The World” tasting.  5 of us from work met there.

The tasting was only $15 which I thought was pretty reasonable as there were 9 bubblys to taste.  I arrived on time and everyone else was late :) so I spent some time talking to one of the guys (Gary) who worked there (as a Champagne buyer – excellent job!) and he was telling me all about the Champagne region, smaller places to visit, restaurants, etc. I just finished reading “The Widow Cliquot” so am quite excited to visit the region (and of course I LOVE bubbly.) He was very friendly and informative and spent about 25 minutes chatting with me about champagne: the business of champagne, the region of Champagne and, of course, drinking champagne and what we’d be tasting today :)

More and more people started coming in the store so he had to move on and help others so I went into their tasting room to start my tasting as my friends STILL weren’t there!  The girl that was pouring was very friendly and informative.  She wasn’t a snotty wine snob in ANY way and she said she preferred bubbly too (like me!) As were the other 2 women who were there tasting. So I was in good company right away :)

We tried:

-Jean-Francois Merieau “Bulles” Touraine Sparkling (Loire Valley, FR) *good*
-Dibon Cava Brut NV (Spain) *very good*
-Bianchi Extra Brut NV (Argentina) *good*
-2005 Argyle Willamette Valley Brut (Oregon) *pretty good*
-Launois “Quartz” Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne (Champagne, FR) *meh*
-Cremant de Limoux Rosé Antech “Emotion” (Limoux, FR) *very good*
-Taltarni Brut Rosé “Tache” Sparkling Wine (Tasmania) *good*
-Ca Berti Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro “Robusco” (Italy) *meh*
-NV Majella Sparkling Shiraz (Australia) *ok*

I used very technical ratings in astericks next to each name :)  I found it funny that I liked the French Champagne the least. Kinda makes me laugh since they are so snotty about being the only ones able to call their sparkling wine “champagne”.  I’ve read the reasoning, blah, blah. I have tasted California Sparkling, Cava and Prosecco that are all very delicious. So they don’t need the the ‘champagne’ label. But if I call it champagne in casual conversation – I don’t want to be corrected by some dolt who thinks I don’t know it’s “only Champagne if it comes from the Champagne region.” (NO ONE at K&L did that!!!)

I bought a bottle of the Cremant de Limoux Rosé Antech “Emotion”. Was my favorite of the bunch. And reasonable! $14.99.  I also bought a tiny bottle of Soligo Prosecco Brut. I bought it for 2 reasons: 1) the bottle and label had a black & silver combo – very pretty!

Tiny Prosecco!

Tiny Prosecco!

And 2) To add to the now growing collection of tiny bottles on my desk at work :)

Bubbly on desk :)

Bubbly on desk :)

If you ever want a good, inexpensive and local bubbly (or wine) tasting, I suggest checking the schedule for K&L.  You can sign up for their email list and then you will see when they schedule them! They have 2 locations in the Bay Area (SF and Redwood City) and 1 in LA: