January 21, 2005

Champagne: A True Story

We had one bottle of champagne left from our wedding, which was ten years ago. A Washington State sparkling wine, not even a vintage, though a good label. We’d drunk the last case little by little, when something fortunate happened or we just felt capricious, but a few months ago the second to last bottle was flat and watery, undrinkable. This last one, we didn’t know what to do with, except that I didn’t want to throw it out. Why she put it in the refrigerator, I’m not sure, since she insisted she didn’t want to drink it, but last night she announced she was going to pour it down the sink.

“Wait, don’t, maybe we can cook with it,” I said. “At least let me have a sip just to see what it’s turned into.”

So she poured one tall fluted glass—and it foamed to the top like new. “Hey!” The straw color had darkened a little to a pinkish cantaloupe, but it smelled like real champagne. And it tasted as good as ever, the same as ten years ago except a little sweeter, a little richer. I remembered it exactly.

I’m not much of a drinker, but I drank that first glass in big, long–tasting swallows, then filled a second glass, foam overflowing, she and the kids laughing and wondering. I gulped it all through dinner on this no–occasion night, with an entrée of hamburger and potato chips and a dessert of an oatmeal raisin cookie.