Champagne Amuse-Bouches 

Amusing and informative Dinner conversation topics - "Wine comes in at the mouth. And love comes in at the eye. Thats all we shall know for truth. Before we grow old and die; I lift the glass to my mouth and I look at you and I sigh." W. B. Yeats

Beautiful Women  and Champagne have been the major theme of champagne adversting for years.  To put you in the mood for a romantic Champagne evening, we'll start with some of these ads. Then serve up some interesting conversation tidbits. Finally to calm the evening down we finish with a bit of religious inspiration.

 
 

 

Scarlett Johansson is the new star of Moet, probably hired as she can drink and serve using her feet.  In the last picture she looks a little worse for wear, dreading having to face another day of serving up glasses from  ten or more bottles with her toes.   

 

Once again Moet have given Scarlett the hard job. Here she is trying a make a huge Champagne Cascade.

 Champagne Fountains - Champange Cascades - For weddings or any special occasion.  

                

Saucer shaped Champagn  glasses are  preferred.  These are  arranged in pyramid sequence .  The optimum champagne fountain ratio being - 5 Tiers - Base Tier- 60 glasses -  2nd tier -30 glasses  - 3rd tier 10 glasses-    4th tier -  4 glasses with   the  4th and top 5th tier 1 glass.  See above exapmles.   Once in postion,  Champagne is poured into top glass until full and this pouring continues until all glasses full.

 

BUBBLE TROUBLE - CHAMPAGNE SWIZZLE STICKS 

 Champagne Tombstones -

-As you drive the vineyard roads of the Champagne region you could be forgiven for thinking the famous and not so famous producers bury their deceased in the vineyards.

 Thankfully it's not the case. No family members are fertilizing  fields. These stone markers have become the traditional way  to indicate which producer owns a vineyard section. As champagne houses can blend from the whole region, major producers own many vineyard sections  in and on the outskirts of several villages - this allows them to use the best of each grape in there blends - and the stones simply show who owns what. .

CHAMPAGNE SWIZZLE STICKS

Strange as it may seem now, in the early 1920’s a fad started to drink champagne without the bubbles. Champagne swizzle sticks became an item of status to the society. In the 1920s Cartier even introduced personalized silver swizzle sticks. Noel Coward, Gertrude Lawrence and George Gershwin were among those who used their own silver-plated sticks to eliminate the bubbles in the glass.  Basically it was considered the sneezes and snorts of bubbles getting up your nose was incompatible with elegance and poise. The name swizzle stick comes from fact that punch was termed "swizzle" and to stir this punch, a stick or wooden spoon was used - the "swizzle stick".

The practice died out in the late 1950’s and today few people remember the use of champagne swizzle stick . Now if you can get one they make a neat cocktail accessory.


 

Early picture of Joan of Arc  from1450.

Click on picture to go back to top.

 Dinner Conversation  - Miracles, Joan of Arc and Reims Cathedral

In a secular world miracles don’t happen, however wine historically has been the most unsecular of products. With this as a starting point, lets take the position of Albert Einstein when a cynical New York reporter asked if he believed in miracles – Einstein’s response was “ show me something that isn’t”.
Now as you travel the wine regions of France you’ll find many religious - sacred –sites,-where the physical world meets the spiritual world - and miracles are said to have occurred. Reims Cathedral is no exception and here the miracle is the particular story of Saint Joan of Arc.  It has all the miracle ingredients, unlikely hero,   the hearing voices in a field,  visions, but the difference in this story is that  Joan a peasant girl of twelve, stated clearly in declarations and written letters what her voices told her she should do, and then she did it. The doing is the miracle, at time the "it" seemed  impossible. The following summarizes her story and her motto still inspires . "In the name of God! let us go on Bravely!"

Sometime in the Spring of 1429, Joan professed to the Dauphin, Charles VII.,
"Four things are laid upon me; to drive out the English, to bring you to be crowned and annointed at Reims; to rescue the Duke of Orléans from the hands of the English; and to raise the siege of Orléans." ..

Joan was born the daughter of Jacques d'Arc and Isabelle Romée. in Domrémy, a village which was then in the duchy of Bar - later Lorraine.  Joan's parents owned a farm of about 50 acres (20 hectares) of land. They lived in an isolated in a north-eastern territory that remained loyal to the French crown despite being surrounded by Burgundian lands. Local raids were common during her childhood and on one occasion her village was burned. She experienced her first vision in 1424 at the age of 12 years, when she was out alone in a field and saw visions of figures she identified as Saint Michael, Saint Catherine, and Saint Margaret, patron saints of France, who told her to drive out the English and bring the Dauphin to Reims for his coronation. She said she cried when they left, as they were so beautiful. ( A similar response of Bernadette Soubirous - the shepard girl of  Lourdes fame in 1860.)

If anything could have discouraged her, the state of France in 1429 should have
- , the political situation of France was bad - the English were sweeping through the country, the Burgundians sided with the English, Charles VII's legitimacy to the throne was questioned, money in the Treasury was low and the army and people’s morale was lower. Within the year and a half, through force of personality she changed  the nation. It began with the victory at Orléans and was validated at the Reims Cathedral Notre-Dame, when the Dauphin, Charles VII, was crowned King of France after the “Bloodless March”.The "Bloodless March" being one of the most extraordinary military campaign in history. After the lifting of the siege at Orléans, Joan of Arc led Charles on a long march from Gien to Reims through English occupied territory, capturing the  English towns and fortresses on the way, this was done only by the force of her name and charisma. No blood was shed. Then Charles was traditionally and formally crowned King in July of 1429 in Reims Cathedral as all French monarchs before him since 1027. .
As you visit the Cathedral, be aware that this sacred site, having the historiclal presence of a saint and being the testiment to miracle.

The Joan of Arc Festival takes place in Reims the first week of June this year - 2011- on the 4th and 5th . This is one of the greatest historical events in France.
Reims, "City of coronations" from Clovis to Charles X, celebrates its heroine Joan of Arc
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