"Oh that’s Prosciutto I think. Whenever I see that in a recipe I just use some Oscar Mayer ham, it’s the same thing”
A conversation from years ago but one that has stuck with me for well over a decade now. Same thing? Um, not even close. I mean aside from being made from pig they have nothing, absolutely nothing in common. Now before anyone goes and tries to label me a pig parts snob, notice that I didn’t say one was better, hell I can get my grub on with a simple ham sandwich as much as the next lover of the swine but the same? Nope, won’t concede to that foolishness. They can both be wonderful, some days one might even appeal more than the other, both have their place but they are not, I repeat, are not the same. Period.
Saturday afternoon we hosted a sparkling wine event at The Wine Country. This is always kind of a fun event for me as I get to pour, talk about, re-taste and share with people some of the fun little sparklers we sell but don’t pour for our Champagne events…know why? Yeah, they aren’t Champagne. So like I said, these events can be a lot of fun for me and for the most part I have a blast, there is however one thing that always gives my crunders a bit of a crunch, and likely makes uncomfortable some of the others that come to just learn and have fun, the, “Oh stop with the not calling it Champagne, they’re the same” comments from a somewhat hardheaded set of folks that seem to find some weird little sense of fun in poking…almost mocking this wine slinger for my refusal to agree with or actually call those wines something they are not, Champagne. Grrrrrr
A couple years ago I cured one such gentleman, (um, term used quite loosely) that was breaking my bawls left and right about not calling a domestic sparkling wine “Champagne”. We went round and round, I explained that Champagne was not a thing, nor was it a style of wine, it was a place where they make sparkling wine. This dude wasn’t having it, just kept laughing, (and just so you know, you ever want to see this normally mild mannered woman go buck wild, just try laughing at me when I’m being serious. I’ve got an ex-boyfriend that can attest to the hells furry when you pull that shit) and chiding me, telling me I was being silly and just then I remembered he had come in with his brother, who was steering clear of this whole spectacle by the way, when I first offered to help then he had introduced both he and his brother, by name….my tactic now, to call this gentleman by name before starting any sentence, except I kept calling him by his brother’s name. “Well Eric, I can see why you feel that way but the truth of the matter is” and “Eric, while you are correct in that they both have bubbles, they aren’t the same thing” and finally he spoke, “Oh, just so you know, Eric is my brother’s name” to which I responded, “Well…it’s the same thing right?” breakthrough. We laughed a little, my smirk a tad sharper as we discussed that even though he and his brother looked alike, grew up the same way, were basically made from the same “material” they were in fact different people and their names were actually kind of important in differentiating them, “So you see, Tom, it matters.”
Saturday afternoon I poured to a group of happy tasters while dodging the fiercely annoying, “Champagne is Champagne, no matter where it comes from” set, a phrase that makes my head implode by the way, trying my best to be light hearted and educate without being dogmatic. I don’t care who likes which and why, I’m honestly just thrilled you found something that moves you but try and get me to call a heart a spade, won’t happen. No matter how bitchy or stuffy it might make me seem. There is no such thing as Italian Champagne, no Anderson Valley Champagne and they sure as shit don’t have Champagne in Spain. Sparkling wines, hell yes, and some damn fine ones, but Champagne? No. Period.
So the part that made it so freaking hard to keep the lid on this powder keg of fielding asshat “Oh C’mon it’s still Champagne” comments dome of mine, the fact that when each and every single one of those poking me with a stick folks hit number eight on the table, the one and only actual Champagne we were pouring, “This sparkling wine comes from Champagne”….getting a tiny charge out of watching the little hamster spin around on the wheel in those heads, is that they all stopped dead in their tracks, eyes wide, chins dropped and mouth agape before asking me, “Why is this one so much better?!”….argh, because it is freaking grower Champagne! Dammit…
There are times for Oscar Mayer ham, times for Prosciutto and each of us might love one above the other, for whatever reason but the fact of the matter is, they aren’t the same. Just as hot dogs and sausage aren’t the same, Tom and Eric aren’t the same, Brie and Maytag Blue Cheese, while both cow’s milk cheeses have their own flavors, texture, nuances and personality, all sparkling wines are not the same…calling all of them by one name, as if it were a style is not only wrong, it’s unfair. Those willing to see each wine as individual, unique and pleasurable in its own way, well they are less likely to drive me batshit and way more likely to find enjoyment in each glass….for what it is, not what you assume it’s trying to be.
Ugh…that feels better.