Champagne Toast to Your Health

A Rose Champagne, such as this beauty from Taittinger, is simply the best for holiday celebrations. Trust me on this.

Popping open some bubbly at holiday gatherings adds finesse to the festivity and it’s a fine way to say, “A toast to your health!”

Carolyn O’Neil and Gina Christman, publisher of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Magazine and Healthy Travel Magazine ( this is as healthy as you can get folks!)
enjoying yet another glass of bubbly in Reims.

More than just a luxury libation, Champagne brims with some happy health benefits.

With only 78 calories in a four-ounce flute, dry or brut Champagne is one of the lowest calorie adult beverages you can pour.

Keep ’em coming….elegant multi-course lunch at Taittinger’s Chateau La Marquetterie with charming Clovis Taittinger.
Clovis and Carolyn at the little place Taittinger family calls their historic home.

Since figure-friendly tips to avoid tipping the scales during the holiday season include advice to to slow down and truly appreciate food favorites; a glass of Champagne can help.

The bubbles in the effervescent liquid liven up the palate to enhance the pleasure of flavors so you can savor the turkey and gravy and later on the nuances of pumpkin or pecan pie.

Did someone say bubbles??

Mireille Guiliano, former CEO of Clicquot (US subsidiary of Veuve Clicquot Champagne) and author of the best selling “French Women Don’t Get Fat” believes that many of Champagne’s health benefits are due to its trace minerals such as magnesium, potassium, zinc, and lithium (a natural mood regulator). Another reason to cheerfully say Cheers!

Exhibit A: visiting Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin in Reims

More bubbly news!  Research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows the antioxidant polyphenols in Champagne helped protect brain cells of mice exposed to stress (the lab served both a lovely blanc de blancs and blanc de noir to their little subjects). So you could theorize that sparkling wine in moderation might help our brains better tolerate the holiday rush and the relatives.

Just make sure you have enough on hand for the Holidays. Sommelier Rachel Voorhees and I outside the Best Western Hotel de la Paix in Reims on recycling day!

Champagne 101

What’s in a name?

How’d you like to work here? I’d never be late and I’d always stay late. Home to the Comte du Vin de Champagne in Epernay.

Just as onions must come from Vidalia, Georgia to be called Vidalia onions you can’t call sparkling wine Champagne unless it’s from the Champagne region of France.

Translation: refuse the imitations
If you couldn’t figure it out yourself, drink more Champagne.

There are many sparkling wines produced around the world, but Champagne only comes from Champagne. “It’s a consumer protection issue,” says Thibaut le Mailloux of the Comité de Champagne. “We are basically trying to rid the world of using Champagne as a generic term including its use to describe paint colors or in fashion.”

Champagne region just before harvest in September. View from Champagne Serge Mathieu.

Located 90 miles northeast of Paris, Champagne’s climate, chalky soil, and long history of multi-generational winemaking combine to produce the region’s uniquely elegant sparkling wine.

Show me the chalky! Winemaker Sebastian Sanchez at small production house Champagne Sanchez-the-Guerard

While most Americans can name at least a few top brands such as Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Piper-Heidsieck and Taittinger,

The great Bruno Paillard in Reims with best of the bubbly.
Champagne Jacquesson with Mr. Jean-Herve Chiquet in my favorite town in Champagne called Dizy. Then we went to lunch….

………there are over five thousand producers in Champagne;

some very big and some very small.

Have I mentioned the word “Champagne” lately?

So, when you’re choosing Champagne from a restaurant wine list or at a wine shop make sure to take note of labels from wineries you might not recognize to discover a diversity of styles in the category – and some bargains.

Bubbly Vocab

Vintage Champagne is blended from the wines of a single outstanding year (read: pricier!) with the year listed on the label.

Worth every penny…or whatever currency you can find. Yes, it takes a little pinot noir to make fabulous rose Champagnes. Oh my, another day of serious research in Champagne region.

Non-vintage Champagne wines are blended from grapes grown in different years to achieve a consistent and unique house style regardless of vintage variability.

Grapes ready for harvest….and bound for bottles of bubbly in Champagne.

Why are some Champagnes sweeter than others?

You have to visit a few caves to discover the secret to great Champagne. Only 4 houses offer public tours- Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot, Pommery and Moet Chandon.

Dosage is the step in making the wine where sugar is added. At the dry end of the scale is ‘Extra Brut’ (almost no sweetness added) and ‘Brut’. At the sweet end are ‘Sec’, ‘Demi-Sec’ and ‘Doux’ (which is very sweet). More than 90% of Champagne wines are categorized as ‘Brut’.

You won’t see much of this in the United States. Brut Nature has NO dosage
(sweetener) added so is very dry and does not age as well…and gets guzzled quickly in France.

Let’s pop open a few more memories from Champagne…..and enjoy the sceneryIMG_1245


and the food


and the people………

Size matters…

and the place……

Dressing to match the Champagne house you visit is of course optional.
At Champagne Piper-Heidsieck for tasting and private dinner.

………YOU must visit.  Travel tip: the Best Western in Reims was fabulous and even the fancy folks from Krug were staying there. Really fun bar for the end of the night, if you haven’t had enough to drink all day.

This is a Best Western? Mai oui! The Hotel de La Paix in Reims. Walk to the Cathedral and lots of lovely little restaurants and shops.


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