For certain foods, I can remember the exact first time I sampled them. Guacamole. Asparagus. Artichokes.
And champagne grapes. When Neel was in graduate school in Pennsylvania we were poorer than, well, insert your cliche here. We were poor. Still, we managed to have a lot of fun, and one summer we took a trip to Ithaca, NY to enjoy the finger lakes and wine country. We stayed at a bed and breakfast that I picked because it boasted an AGA and that you could hear the falls from your window. Well, you could hear the falls from your room, sort of, but the bed and breakfast was dear and I was introduced to many wonderful things while we were there. Like baked french toast.
And champagne grapes.
Neel and hiked the falls. (Ithaca is Gorges!) We toured wineries. And we went sailing on Cayuga Lake. Anywhere we go that's near water, I want to get on a boat and my husband always obliges me. The man who gets seasick on porch swings always obliges me. So one of our days in Ithaca we booked a sail and took a picnic out on Cayuga Lake. As the proprietress of the bed and breakfast pointed us to the grocery store to pick up supplies, she suggested, "Look out for champagne grapes." I can still remember standing in the dim light of the produce section as we stumbled upon them and remembered her words. Champagne grapes! Not at all what I expected.
I'm not sure what I was expecting, exactly. A white grape maybe. With bubbles? Not these little darlings. Not these succulent beads of tender sweetness. Just yesterday, Callum suggested that I press one against the roof of my mouth and suck out the juice. It's heaven.
Oddly, the champagne grape is almost never used to make wine. However, if you've ever eaten a Zante currant, it started its life as a champagne grape. They are pearl sized, seedless and the flavor is described as well, intensely sweet. Apparently they get their name because the clusters of grapes look like bubbles in a glass of champagne.