2.7.2022 – pieces of puzzles

pieces of puzzles
picked up over decades
can fall into place

I recently went to the theater to see the movie Casablanca on the big screen to celebrate the 80th of its release.

I always pay close attention when the German officers sit down in Rick’s Café Américain and order a bottle of Champagne and a tin of caviar.

That is the place when Captain Louis Renault intercedes with the waiter and says “May I recommend Bev Tico ’26’ a good French wine?”

I cannot remember when I first saw the movie.

I cannot remember that I ever DID NOT know how it ended.

But there were other things about the movie I did not know.

And the brand of French Champagne was one of them.

Understand this goes back to that age before You Tube when almost any clip of any movie of TV show anywhere of anytime can be viewed over and over again.

I had to wait until the movie was on TV.

When I could watch it I would get close to the TV and listen very carefully to Claude Rains when he said the words, “May I recommend Bev Tico ’26’ a good French wine?”

Again and again, I was sure he said Bev Tico.

With the resources I had I tried to research French Champagne and Champagne brands.

Again there was no internet or world wide web and I had all the sophistication of the poor corrupt official so forgive me not being up on champagne.

I remember making a trip to a local wine store in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I lived, that was famous for its outstanding list of foreign wines.

Russo’s, as it was called, had two aisles of Champagne and I think I went down the shelves and shelves, bottle by bottle looking for this Bev Tico.

The wine guy for the store, who I later became friends with, noticed my interest and came over to ask what I was looking for.

I thought about telling him what it was and why it was what it was that I was looking for but I got embarrassed and just said I was looking for something special.

At some point in time after that I had the radio on in the back room of the bookstore where I worked and it was set to NPR.

I heard the announcer say, “This broadcast of NPR is made available in part by a donation of VOO-EVV CLI-QUO – Producing fine Champagne since 1772.”

I think I tripped.

What had I just heard?

I wasn’t sure.

I checked the clock and it was just 11:00 a.m.

The next day I was in the back room at 10:55 a.m. with the radio on.

Some program came to a close and just before the top of the hour once again I heard the words “This broadcast of NPR is made available in part by a donation of VOO-EVV CLI-QUO – Producing fine Champagne since 1772.”

Vooo – evvv?

With a V not a B?

I went out into the store and found a World Wine Guide in the cooking section and opened it to Champagnes that started with the letter V and there it was.

Claude Rains doesn’t say BEV TICO.

Clause Rains says Veuve Clicquot.

I went out to Russo’s again and there in the Champagne aisle, down under the V’s, were the now to me familiar green bottles with the orange labels.

Now we go a few years further long and I am reading the novel, Lincoln, by Gore Vidal.

Throughout the novel, when the story line is at parties or bars or brothels, Mr. Vidal has his characters asking for and drinking glasses of ‘The Widow.’

At some point in the novel, it is revealed that when folks back then in 1862 asked for the ‘The Widow” they wanted Champagne.

I thought this was interesting but a little quirky.

In fact I thought Mr. Vidal made it up to add to the narrative but then so what.

Now we get to the present time.

Based on something I read recently I recently read a novel titled, “Cooking with Fernet Branca.”

In the course of the novel, the hero notices a bottle of Champagne in his neighbors house.

He was pleased to note that his neighbor was with it enough to drink ‘The Widow Cliquot.’

All at once my mind went back all those years to Mr. Vidal’s Lincoln and I said out loud, “That’s what they meant when they said The Widow.

A lady must have run the company after Mr. Veuve Clicquot died and they referred to Veuve Clicquot as ‘the widow.’

Of course they did.

It all clicked.

It all made sense.

Senseless that all those bits of unconnected memory are floating through my brain.

But it made sense.

Happy to announce that my wife is used to such things coming out from my brain and paid no attention to me at all.

She may have been curious as to who ‘they’ were.

She may have been curious as to who was ‘the widow.’

But she was much too experienced with me to want to sit through any explanation of why I said that and just kept quiet.

All those puzzle pieces through all those years coming together.

It was a satisfying moment.

It was with satisfaction that I sat down at my desk to write out the pieces and pathways of this puzzle.

I went into Wikipedia to get the correct spelling of Veuve Clicquot.

That is when I learned that the French word for widow is Veuve.

Sometimes I feel such a dunce.

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