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Copyright © 2015
Forkmedia LLC

by Fred McMillin
for February 14, 2000

A Fine Valentine


On this day of romance, here are two views of marriage.

  • PRO (a toast):
    To my wife,
    My bride and joy!

  • CON: Marriage is a wonderful institution,
    but who wants to live in an institution.

    ...Groucho Marx

Now, let's get serious.

Vaults of Clicquot

In the vaults of Clicquot.

Valentine's Day

In 496, Pope Gelasius I names Feb. 14 Valentine's Day, after two Roman saints of that name who lived three centuries earlier. (S.F. Examiner)

In 496, Clotilda, a Catholic princess of Burgundy, converts her groom, Clovis I to Christianity and the King of the Francs is baptized at Reims. They would have four sons, and Clovis, during his 30-year reign,would build the foundations that led to the rise of France and the German Empire.

So, Clotilda and Clovis could have celebrated the first Feb. 14th Valentine's Day in Reims, the future Champagne center.

Staying in Reims, let's fast-forward to 1777. The stork visits the mayor's home, leaving Nicole Barbe Ponsardin. She would marry young vintner Francois Clicquot, be widowed at age 27, and become the most important female vinter of the 19th century. (See Dec. 3, 1999 WineDay)

All this means that tonight my Valentine of 43 years and I celebrate with Clicquot Champagne. My panel just tasted a magnificent one.

The Valentine Wine

Veuve (widow) Clicquot Demi-Sec Champagne
Reims, France
Character—Has some sugar. Ideal with dessert. Panel's Comments—Beautiful, fine beads (bubbles); exciting aromas and full body to match.
Contact—Office of Matt Egan, (212) 888-7575, FAX (212) 888-7551
Price—$45 range


Speaking of the Widow Clicquot, it's particularly appropriate to serve the demi-sec (has some sugar). All Champagne during her lifetime was sweet. The first shipment of unsweet Champagne reached England in 1874.

Toasts, Paul Dickson
Europe, Norman Davies

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


This page created February 2000