Our foray into the essence of luxury in Washington, DC continues with an ovation on our favorite of tipples (Speyside Scotches precluded, of course): a glass of fine Champagne. When 17th century monk Dom Pierre Pérignon first sipped this most bubbly of wines he is said to have exclaimed, “come quickly brothers, I am tasting the stars!” Indeed, how effervescent and ephemeral is Champagne as it courses over the tongue! Life is better when it sparkles – we couldn’t agree more. But what we most love of Champagne is that delicate ring of bubbles that crowns each glass: le collier de perles.
Translated from the French, le collier de perles quite literally means ‘the pearl necklace.’ One can see why. Atop each glass bubbles rise and float to the edges, linking like tiny pearls into rows of delicate strands. These airy bubbles accompany the wine like pearl jewels on couture: the perfect pairing. “There is a moment between the 15th and 16th mouthful of Champagne when every man is an aristocrat,” writes Amélie Nothomb in her novel Le Fait du Prince. Oh, Amélie. One needn’t wait until the 15th sip when wearing pearls.
Surrounded by vestiges of our forefathers here in the nation’s capital, it seems both fitting and well that we draw on the sage counsel of our presidents past. Wine, as Thomas Jefferson notes, is a necessity. Champagne, we say, is too. A day without that signature sparkle is inconceivable. So when you take a sip of Champagne next, pass a glance toward le collier de perles and raise a glass to toast with Spey:
Here’s to literature, that we may know of beauty in the past.
Here’s to pearls, that we may think of beauty in the present.
And here’s to Champagne, that we may dream of beauty for the future.