The half of the earth where I live lies north of the equator. At this time of year, the skies here are gray and the days are short and chilly. A s long as we don’t have hurricanes, blizzards or sub-zero temperatures I’m mostly okay with all this--and I’m especially okay with it on the days when I have a bottle of Champagne to enjoy as the evening sky darkens. With that in mind, I urge you to pour yourself a glass of Champagne and test your knowledge about Champagne, the beverage, the region and the trivia. We won't mess around with the tiresome business of placing all the answwers to the ten questions upside-down at the bottom here. Rather, in view of the tough year that 2021 has been for almost everyone, we'll just work on the honor system. Just obscure the answers with your free hand and work your way down the list (and by "free hand," I mean the one that isn't holding your Champagne glass!).
1. The very best vineyards in the Champagne region are located
a. In the fertile river valleys
b. On the slopes of the hills
c. On the plains surrounding Reims and Epernay, the Champagne region’s two major cities.
2. What do the Champagne region and the white cliffs of Dover have in common?
Answer: The chalky subsoil of Champagne and England’s famous cliffs are both geologically part of an ocean bed that disappeared some 65 million years ago.
3. “Veuve” is the French word for “widow.” The name “Veuve Cliquot” refers to:
a. A close-knit group of 19th century widows who created colorful Champagne labels.
b. The 27-year old Nicole Barbe Clicquot who, after her husband died, took over his Champagne business.
c. Pierre Cliquot, who launched a new Champagne brand in 1922 and named it in honor of his widowed mother.
4. Who is alleged to have called out after sipping his first glass of Champagne “I have tasted the stars!”
a. Dom Perignon, a French monk
c. Robert Mondavi
5. Agglomerate cork—reassembled crumbs of cork used in combination with solid cork to stopper most Champagne and other sparkling wines--was developed by:
a. Jean-Louis Carbonnier, a winemaker in Reims
b. John Smith, an American businessman
c. Joseph Krug, a butcher’s son who founded Krug Champagne in 1843
Answer: b. John Smith
6. Since bubbles can’t rise spontaneously out of liquid, what causes the fizziness in a glass of sparkling wine?
Answer: The microscopic pits and scratches that occur naturally in glasses and bottles trap the carbon dioxide gas in sparkling wine, which then rises to the surface in the form of bubbles.
7. Hundreds of thousands of bottles of Champagne are stored in cool, dark limestone caves deep beneath the earth’s surface. These caves are mostly thanks to
a. The medieval monks, some dating back to the Roman occupation, who dug out miles and miles of vast subterranean caves under the lush landscape in Champagne
b. Erosion during the Ice Age
c. The ancient Romans who quarried the chalky hillsides to Champagne to construct their highways
8. Who is alleged to have brought Champagne’s first Chardonnay vines back from the Crusades? (Hint: his seal adorns the bottle of one of today’s eminent Champagne producers.)
a. Claude Moët
b. Thibaud IV
c. Georges Brassens
Answer: b. Thibaud IV (born around 1239), one of France’s most powerful rulers. His portrait is on the label of Taitinger’s Compte de Champagne Cuvée.
9. Who said “My only regret in life is that I didn’t drink enough Champagne”
a. Charles de Gaulle
b. John Maynard Keynes
c. Queen Marie-Antoinette
Answer: b, the English economist John Maynard Keynes
10. The cork and wire cage on a Champagne bottle are wrapped in foil which is known as
a. The “coiffe”
b. The “collier”
c The “sauvegarde”
Answer: a. The “coiffe” refers to the foil wrapping that covers both the cork and its wire cage (“muselet”).