Celebrate life in style with a glass of bubbly

Len Maseko Drinks on the House

International Champagne Day may have come and gone, but the world will still be enthralled by a legendary bubbly.

It may well be party trivia for some that this effervescent beverage was actually an accidental creation in 1693, and before then was shunned by the French, who thought bubbles in a wine signified a bad drink.

Although Benedictine monk Dom Perignon is credited wit the discovery of champagne by accident when he found the wine stored in a cask had developed bubbles, apparently no records exist to back this legend. On his discovery of the monk is said to have exclaimed, "Come quickly! I am drinking the stars!"

However, the irony is that Perignon is recorded to have spent most of his life trying to remove the bubbles - only to be famous for the invention of the menace that gave him endless headaches.

Whatever the true story is, Dom Perignon was nonetheless honoured by Moët & Chandon with the launch of a champagne brand in his name in 1936. It is no legend that champagne is a much-loved beverage today, with France having shipped to the world 312.5 million bottles in 2015 - a figure still surpassed by the record shipment of 339 million bottles in 2007.

Notably, Moët & Chandon is the biggest-selling brand today - followed by Veuve Clicquot, Nicolas Feuillatte, G.H. Mumm, Laurent-Perrier, Taittinger, Pommery, Piper-Heidieck, Lanson and Canard-Duchêne. Noteworthy too is that Italian bubbly, Prosecco, the cheaper alternative to champagne, is quietly snipping at the heels of the French bubbly in places like the UK.

Champagne Day, which was on October 20, is dedicated to raising awareness around this style of wine.

Tsogo Sun, whose bars rank among the Top 10 of Jozi's hottest champagne bars, takes Champagne Day seriously to the extent of hosting a commemorative celebration every year. Tsogo prides itself on offering the best champagne prices, while its group sommelier, Miguel Chan, is regarded as one of the preeminent experts on French bubbly.

To enjoy a full champagne experience at Montecasino, a visitor is most likely to enjoy a fulsome champagne experience by not having all courses of his meal or drink in one eatery or bar.

A starter at Palazzo Hotel's Medeo Restaurant like tuna tartare, jalapeno feta poppers, compressed avocado, parmesan tuile, watercress and parsely - all enjoyed with Veuve Clicquot Rose, at R700 a bottle - might just kick off a culinary adventure.

Indeed, as it launched with aplomb the Champagne Day four-course repertoire across three Montecasino eateries - Medeo, Aarya and Punchinello - all lubricated by Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label and Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial.

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