It’s fall in New York City and it finally feels like it. Temperatures hover in the 60s, with brisk breezes making the inside of my windows cool to the touch. Central Park – one of my favorite places regardless of season – adapts to the changes slowly. The lush summer greenery brightened by pops of hot pink, neon yellow, and fiery orange morphs into a field of olive, complemented by coppery russet and gold.
As a regular to the park I notice even the subtle hints of change. When you tread the same path day after day, you get to know a place. You know what will greet you at a particular hour. That just after dawn you might come across a pair of ducks, nestled together in a feathery ball, napping on the path. And as you make your way to the north side, there’s a good chance you’ll catch a glimpse of the Big Daddy Raccoon as he skitters into the brush.
You also recognize Mother Nature’s new palette, flecks of red and copper splashed across just a few leaves today; understanding that tomorrow, it will seem as though she’s picked up a bigger brush and gone to town.
There’s always something new to see.
Drinking with the Season
Right now I’m in the final stages of preparing for my WSET diploma exam on fortified wines. That means I am trying to commit a ridiculous amount of knowledge into my too-crowded brain. And I’m tasting a whole lot of wines that are the vinous equivalent of the fall foliage.
They are perfect for the chilly days, with their deep hues of amber, tawny, and garnet. And they will warm you up – literally – from your taste buds to your toes (17-22% alcohol will do that to you.)
Most of them I regard as an academic exercise. A few (Sercial Madeira and Palo Cortado Sherry, I’m talking to you) I actually enjoy. But they are best in small doses, at least for me, which leaves me craving a quaff that’s high in acidity, light in body, and super-refreshing. Even if the evening mercury has dipped into the 40s.
What better remedy for palate fatigue than Champagne?
Does Champagne Have a Season?
But I think most people still consider it a holiday or special occasion wine. Christmas Eve, New Year’s Day, anniversaries are all perfect for popping open a bottle of Champagne. And during the summer months, a frosty glass of bubbles can take the edge off a hot day (especially if you live in Miami.)
I bring this up because today is Champagne Day, a day devoted to enjoyment of the world’s finest sparkling wine. It seems like an odd day to choose, especially as wine stores and online retailers are hawking what they call Transitional Wines: meaning get the last bottles of rosé out of your fridge and stock up on BIG ASS RED WINE OF YOUR CHOICE.
And I’m cool with that transitional thing because I do find myself gravitating toward fuller-bodied wines as the weather changes. But can’t we keep room in the rotation for something as monumental as Champagne?
As I walked the park this evening, I realized why I – and probably many of us – need Champagne right now, and it has nothing to do with being able to see our breaths on a chilly jaunt through the woods.
Which One of These Things Doesn’t Belong?
Have you browsed through my photos from today? If so, you’ve enjoyed a glorious display of autumn colors: elm trees, flowering shrubs, vines, all in various shades of red-gold-copper. But there was one pic that was an incongruent burst of bright purple.
The little daisy-like flowers thrilled me with their exuberance.
As the rest of the park gilds itself in fall tones, trying on a more subdued personality as the season fades, these little buggers are partying like it’s 1999! Their very existence made me smile and forced me to admit that, sometimes, you have to go at your own pace, blaze your own trail.
Even if that goes against what the rest of the park/family/world is doing. Even if tomorrow brings a freeze that brings the party to an end. Especially if that’s what might happen tomorrow.
You’ve gotta burn bright, live in the moment, do things that make you happy.
Just like these marvelous purple daredevils.
Here’s to wearing your purple amid the autumn’s sienna. Let the background make you pop. And drink Champagne whenever you damn well feel like it!