THE ADVENT CALENDAR OF ALCOHOL – 13 December (12%-13%) – Champagne

I’m sure there are lots of good reasons why champagne has become so set as an international festive drink, but it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that its mass popularity didn’t date back before televised Formula 1. Surely the first thing that comes to mind for most people when they think of the drink is some square-jawed four-wheel hero spraying all and sundry with ‘fizz’ from atop a podium. The symbolism is hardly Freudian rocket science either: the winner is being gifted with a massive glass cock with which to cumshot AND golden shower his beta-male rivals. Quite appropriate really, since a lot of champagne tastes like piss.

I still drink it though (the champagne that is). It’s a reflex. You can’t often refuse free booze and champagne is rarely a drink you actually buy, it gets given to you (by the glass or bottle). I do think it’s funny that it’s so associated with being shaken and sprayed everywhere ‘ what other drink is so famous for being mostly thrown away? ‘ because a great deal of the time I’m happier with it on the ground than in my stomach. Do I think champagne is over-rated? Maybe. Not proper very expensive champagne, perhaps ‘ I’m sure the ‘Cris’ I hear so much about is absolute nectar ‘ though even then I think I’d rather taste a fifty-quid bottle of white wine than a similar-priced ‘champers’. But most champagne you are likely to encounter is down at the cheaper end of the scale.

Almost every other Summery drink is more refreshing and tastier, even Pimms! Even Bucks Fizz! (I was going to run a taste test and drink a bottle of 12.5% champagne for this entry, but horrific Friday night circumstances meant that I vowed not to touch a drop of drink all weekend.) Cheap champagne is usually too sweet and becomes sickly very quickly, that is if the bubbles don’t harsh your tongue too much to even notice. It also, as I discovered the morning after my wedding, can lead to some real bastard hangovers. But still we ‘ including I ‘ knock it back with gratitude. I think part of the reason is that it’s often one of the first drinks we get a taste for, it being handed out gleefully to children at family celebrations. Half a glass of champagne in some little mite’s hand looks cute whereas a half of stout (say) would inspire horror: odd since champagne is generally pretty strong. This may well be my posho background telling, of course ‘ feel free to use the ‘comment’ link on the sidebar to share your tales of being fed porter at age 2. Oh, and please don’t take my anti-bubbly comments to mean that I won’t swig litres of the stuff at New Years.