I hate champagne.
Revoke my matric card. Repossess my red gown. Sentence me to a day spent standing upon the PH. But I really, truly, from the bottom of my uncultured taste buds, hate champagne.
Bollinger makes me gag, Bouvet-Ladubay brings me to tears, Veuve Clicquot stings my mouth. Moët is manky and Piper Heidsieck – don’t make me shudder. From Tesco’s finest to the vineyards of France, I just cannot abide by that fizzy, fruity flavour. I don’t know if it’s the bubbles or the scent, the bottle or the glass, but everything about champagne turns me off more than a picture of a walrus tupping a guinea pig. It repels my very being, appals the essence of Me.
I quickly learned that St Andrews is not the ideal place for a champagne-loathing philistine like myself. Every single event seems to be preceded by an obligatory champagne reception. By the time I reached my second year, it almost felt like an afterthought: “Let’s see, we’ve got fairground rides, a thousand-pound-an-hour DJ, some bagpipers… Oh, right, and a champagne reception. Might as well throw that one in there.”
At this point, I was surprised when an event didn’t include some variation of a champagne reception. That is what St Andrews had done to me – I would roll up to a ball, in black tie, prepared to enjoy free ice cream and unparalleled debauchery, the likes of which most adults don’t get the chance to experience, and my first thought was, No champagne reception? Meh.
The sight of the reception is now so ingrained in my mind that I associate it with a successful event. How many Lightbox photos have we seen that feature hordes of good-looking people, their heads thrown back in laughter as they awkwardly squat out of their chairs so they may clink flutes in the centre of the table? Too goddamn many, is the answer.
The word “champagne” carries connotations of class and luxury. Remember when a bunch of freshers poured Moët on their heads and the BBC was like, “What has become of today’s youth!” and they had to apologise? Well, they did that to make fun of St Andrews’ reputation for elitism – and elitism goes hand in hand with champagne.
And so originates the popularity of the champagne reception. We like to feel posh as we eat cotton candy and dance to “Wagon Wheel,” and a high-class arrival provides us with this feeling. It’s hard to look like a chav when you’ve got a flute of champagne in your hand. Wanting their guests to look cool, event organisers are only too happy to provide a flute per person, good for at least one profile picture that will make friends from home comment, “do you even go to class? lol!!! ;))”
And then there’s the annual Charity Polo Tournament. I was going to post one or two photos to illustrate the amount of champagne present, but I couldn’t narrow it down. So look at all of them. Yes, all of them. Between the unlimited VVIP champagne and free bottle per VIP guest, the tournament hit the point of diminishing returns pretty early in the day. Overcome by the potential for bubbly, guests literally dumped champagne into the grass simply so they could go get more. If bathtubs had been on hand, people would have bathed in the stuff (insert ‘bubbly bath’ joke here). That’s how much St Andrews loves its champagne.
But believe it or not, my ultimate gripe about champagne has nothing to do with its taste or reputation. It has everything to do with the vessel.
How, I ask you, is one meant to drink from a champagne flute? It’s all fine and dandy for the first few sips, but by the time you reach the halfway point there is just no way of doing it gracefully. You’ve got to turn the end up as though you’re chinning a beer, like you’re desperate to down it before you start getting withdrawal shakes. Wine can be nursed, as can mixed drinks or even cocktails. But forced into such a narrow glass, champagne can only be gulped.
The connoisseurs amongst you may point out something like “it preserves the flavour” or “it lets the booze breathe,” to which I reply that I’ve poured vodka into my wine before. I have no respect for the sanctity of alcohol. All I want is a drink that will get me drunk with minimum inconvenience, and I’m sorry to say that champagne does not make that cut.
Any chance we could make tequila shot receptions a thing?
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