Little Black Dresses

introduction written by Ilene Ross
photography by Gina Weathersby/Kiwi Street Studios

Recently, I was asked by Summerfair Cincinnati to be an “Honorary Fashionista” at their upcoming Little Black Dress event. I was extremely honored, although a bit confused. You see, I was surprised that they asked me, a food writer, as opposed to someone who had more of an “in” with the fashion community. Yes, I am most always in black. I chalk that up to being a native of New York, even though I’ve been a proud resident of the Queen City for over 30 years. And yes, I love snazzy shoes, as do most women. So I started to think of this whole thing as I usually do, in culinary terms, and I remembered that one of my very favorite beverages, Champagne, goes with everything, and is, therefore, as far as I’m concerned, the “Little Black Dress” of the food world.
The thing is, I don’t know much about wine, and since we choose our contributors at 513{eats} for their unique expertise in the food world, we’ve brought in a top notch expert to join our family as a wine consultant. Amy Simmons Neyer is the former wine columnist for the Cincinnati Enquirer and CityBeat. She holds a Level III/Advance Certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust,  is a member of the Society of Wine Educators, and the national and Cincinnati chapters of Chaine des Rotisseurs, a global food and wine society.  In her spare time, she and her partner are the parents of three-year-old twins. I knew she would be the perfect person to speak to the topic of everyone’s favorite celebratory beverage, Champagne.
Wine questions? Ask Amy at

It’s that time of year again, when the confluence of diverse life events – weddings, fund-raisers, graduations and other notable celebrations sends us to the closet for proper attire.  Fashionably flexible, the classic Little Black Dress is often my trusty party companion; it can be dressed up or down. And what do I pair with the “Swiss Army knife” of women’s apparel? Aside from a pair of great shoes, I don’t need baubles; give me bubbles. Few things are better and more versatile accoutrements than a glass of Champagne. Unfortunately, wine’s equivalent of the classic black dress, Champagne (and its kissing cousin, sparkling wine) is, too often, reserved for Big Events.
There are a wonderfully increasing number of sparkling wines, but there is, however, only one Champagne, which is made in the Champagne region located east of Paris.  Location is the North Star to understanding French wine.  Sparkling wine made outside of this region cannot be called Champagne.  Champagne has been historically dominated by the big producers aka “houses,” recognized at shelf as Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot and the like. The wine is made using some combination of only three grapes – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier – using a process known as méthode champenoise or traditional method.
We all know that Champagne pairs well with formal food such as smoked salmon and sushi, but like your LBD, you can dress it down to delightfully enhance more casual, fun fare such as salted nuts, potato chips, and even fried chicken-the crunchy, salty texture of the chicken likes the bubbles.
Admit it: we’ve all got that special bottle of bubbly that gets passed over, waiting for the “right time.”
So why not drink it?
Perhaps its Champagne’s price tag that makes it tough to simply open for a Friday night starter. Champagne can be pricey (usually north of $50) but there are lots of excellent options now made from smaller winemakers known as grower champagne or “farmer fizz,” where the price tag is well within reach ($30-$50).
As much as I love champagne (and I do), I find myself all too often saving the fizz for a justifiable event. So, a challenge to all of us – celebrate those everyday Black Dress moments with Champagne. Trends come and go. Classics are forever.
~Amy Simmons Neyer

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *



There was an error submitting your comment. Please try again.