I'm rating 4/5 glasses of wine for this one!
Alright, so I'm going to be honest and admit that I'm typically not one for memoirs, but when Penguin Publishing's First To Read program gives you a promising new read to check out, I'm not going to turn it down! Champagne Baby by Laure Dugas was really engaging and well written. I actually stray away from reading full synopsis most of the time so I (somehow) completely missed that it was a memoir until about half way through the book. The story tells just a fragment of Ms. Dugas' life with glimpses to the past, a very exciting and interesting two year journey in her life, and some really great insight into wine and all of it's complexities. I partake in wine on occasion, mostly moscato, but I never really thought about how many types of wine and how they are all collected, classified, and thoroughly enjoyed until now. Ms. Dugas takes readers on a personal journey through her life when she started to find who she was and were she most felt that she belonged but also invites the reader to go on there own journey into the world of wine enjoyment as well as little tidbits about wine's past, present, and future. This memoir was entertainingly full of a lot of information that definitely got me thinking more about the world of wine and what I'd like to share with my friends. The wonderful touches of french in the novel also sold me as a former student of the language!
"Laure Dugas is a champagne baby, born into a family of winemakers from two storied regions of France: Champagne and the Rhône Valley. When Laure was an infant, her mother would dip a finger in wine and dab it on Laure’s lips to acclimate her to the taste and aroma. But Laure wants little to do with the family business. It is only at age twenty-three, when her uncle offers to send her to New York City to learn English and represent his wines to the American market, that Laure bids adieu to her boyfriend and begins her journey of discovery.
The job, it turns out, is both harder and easier than expected. Laure must speak in a new language about a subject in which she has no expertise. But an experienced wine saleswoman shares the secret for faking it: “Always. Be. French.” After all, who could claim to know more about wine than a Frenchwoman? With the pedigree of an expert, even as she feels like a fraud, Laure dives into an industry still dominated by men, winning over restaurateurs and sommeliers, diligently developing her palate, and traveling across the vast country that is her new home.
For the first time, Laure is able to distinguish among the famous wines of her native land. She learns to greet a wine by the nose and judge a bottle not by its industry rating but by the balance of its flavors. Overcoming homesickness, culture shock, and the trials of a long-distance relationship, Laure manages to settle into her new milieu, her wine-glass-half-full attitude turning an eight-month stint into a three-year adventure.
Part coming-of-age memoir, part travelogue, sprinkled throughout with regional maps and wine recommendations, Champagne Baby imparts the critical lessons that pair with both wine and life: You’re Better Than the Cheapest Bottle, There’s Always Occasion for Champagne, and Trust Your Palate. It encourages readers to view themselves and their surroundings with newfound appreciation, and to raise their glasses with open-mindedness and joy."