This one ended up somewhere that wasn't the blog. I think it was a magazine that I didn't read. Anyway, I thought it too good to let die. I think I make a very poor ghost writer. My voice is too strong. The I is always stronger than the him, the we, and the them with me.I'm practicing though. I don't want to be a one trick pony.
I cannot tell you what it is about champagne. It could be the gunshot like sound it makes as the cork is forcibly freed from the bottle's mouth, or it could be the fact that the opening of the bottle never fails to embarrass more than a few of the nouveau riche. They cannot grasp that the cork is an eye popping hazard! It must be held firmly in the palm and not grasped lightly by the fore finger and the thumb. Even worse is the the fact that most of the people that drink it here in Lagos cannot pronounce it. It starts with the word champagne. The ch is often pronounced as a ch and the pagne is butchered until it sounds like pagne, when it really should be pronounced as sham-pain. Is that so hard? I could stand it if that were the end, but it isn't. Go to a bar, sit there and listen to the wonderlous orders being made. You'll learn that there are brands like VoooovVoooo clickuot, Moet and Chandon, Tent (when it should be Thienot) and Vev Clicket. Shouldn't the fact that our Nigerian mouths are tragically unsuited to the pronouncing of such foreign words deter us from consuming the stuff like it's going out of fashion? I suppose that would be the case if the only way to order one was to say its name out loud. But as things are we can always point.
It could also be the taste of it. It's a relatively easy drink. The typical Moet requires almost no acclimatisation, unlike the harder liquors out there. I'd like to see any novice declare that tequila's the greatest thing since sliced bread. Sometimes the alcohol burn is so elusive that amateurs drink it like it's fizzy grape juice, and express surprise when they're face deep in their own vomit. It's also dry in a way that I find addictive. It's a liquid that doesn't extinguish thirst, thus requiring that you drink more and more and more of it. Given its inability to cure any water related thirst it is a little bit of a wonder that it is more popular than water at many of our parties. The champagne bottle to water bottle ratio at some weddings is no smaller than 5 to 1, which is slightly confusing given that alcohol dehydrates as efficiently as heat.
As compelling as the taste of champagne is, I think that it's the status attached to it that spurs us to wanton consumption. As champagne is generally one of the more expensive forms of alcohol, it is associated with the lifestyle of the rich and famous that we're all supposed to aspire to. In fact once sighted with a bottle, it is assumed that we belong to the exclusive club of champagne consumers. In this fashion the host of the party that only provides Dom Perignon for its guests is infinitely better off than the host of the party who provides Laurent Perrier. As the bulk of us are discontent with our stations, on pain of death we'll scrimp and save until we can pull off the Dom Perignon bash so that everyone who attends, believes that we are of the Dom stock when we're really of the Laurent Perrier.
We mustn't forget about the bottle. The champagne bottle is heavy with pomp, circumstance and fortune. The very image of it is so compelling that it has become a prominent marketing strategy. Last year, both Heineken and Star unveiled their magnum themed bottles to great success. I did not know how popular they were until I was doing the paramilitary segment of my year of National Youth Service in Edo state. Instead of popping champagne to celebrate the winning of some competition or the other, we popped magnum star.
Our much documented love for Champagne has led to an extraordinary rise in the presence of luxury alcohol brands. While brands such as Hennessy, Jack Daniels, and Remy Martin have always been sold, I cannot remember a time when they were so ubiquitous. There's always a bar crawl, or a club night, or a rock themed party these days. The logic must be if champagne why not whisky or brandy or Irish cream. The Champagne brands aren't holding back either. Sponsorships are now so popular that I imagine that it would be difficult to throw an event that isn't sponsored than it is to throw one that is. They cannot be blamed for we have the population, the thirst and the rising middle class to keep their share holders happy for at least another two decades.