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Tour de Champagne brings diverse crowd of sparkling wine-lovers to Boston

Look for this story in the Feb. 4, 2010 issue of Bay Windows newspaper, New England’s largest LGBT newspaper.

The ballroom of Cambridge’s Charles Hotel is dotted with bright orange napkins from the Veuve Cliquot table on Saturday, Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. Murmuring, high-heeled conversation fills the room. Tuxedoed men abound, outshone only by haute couture dresses donned by their dates. The Tour de Champagne has arrived, full force, in Boston.

My foremost regret is the fact that my girlfriend has, for the chalice that will belong to her for the duration of the evening, received a champagne flute that we determine is approximately fifty percent larger than the one that has been issued to me. We take no large offense, however, and head for the champagne tasting tables, interspersed with hors d’oeuvres offerings from the finest Boston chefs.

Photo: Tour de Champagne


The crowded ballroom leaves little room for navigation, but it can be inferred that the evening’s hosts anticipated this, and therefore, a new champagne station appears seemingly at every turn. While Veuve Cliquot and Taittinger rule the evening, smaller, local restaurants—like Upstairs on the Square, whose Vazart Coquart Reserve Brut Blanc de Blanes Grand Cru from Berkshire Wine, Inc. was my personal favorite—receive the same attention.

During the much-anticipated dessert demonstration, my mind reels with food-based fantasies as former White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier denounces the Food Network in his thick French accent, all the while whipping up a light, ephemeral blueberry cake creation—cool, spongy slices of which appear at our table seemingly out of nowhere. The group of people crowding the doors of the small business room in which the demonstration is being held is indicative of how lucky we were to pick this particular room in which to rest our (and by “our” I mean “my”) aching feet.

Former White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier. Photo: Tour de Champagne


The 52-year-old Mesnier—whose enthusiastic, child-like demeanor belies nothing of his age—begins tossing peppermint patties emblazoned with the presidential seal out into the crowd. The game is fun until the chef’s aim improves, and soon audience members are trying to dodge the gold-wrapped candies.

The pastry demonstration, the never-ending bottles of bubbly, and the thick French accents of the champagne table attendants make the experience seem that much more authentic for those who were lucky enough to attend Boston’s leg of the Tour de Champagne.


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