I'm no champagne connoisseur. I enjoy the occasional mimosa—or four. I know I like prosecco, but couldn't quite tell you the difference between the sparkling wine and champagne. But while I don't know much about the different brands, varietals, growers, etc., I do know a bottle of Veuve Clicquot is something special, something signifying an occasion. And when an entire bus load of bubbles rolls up to Charleston, I know there's one hell of a party to be had.
Yesterday afternoon, the iconic orange Veuve Clicquot bus pulled up in front of The William Aiken House on King Street, stocked with bubbles for the Veuve Clicquot: Clicquot en Route event co-hosted by Charleston Wine + Food. It's stop in the Holy City was just one on it's 15,000 mile journey spanning over 20 cities across the nation, popping thousands of bottles along the way.
I could see the bus from the the corner of King and Vanderhorst as I made my way towards the party—so much larger than all of the photos I had seen of it on Instagram and Facebook leading up to the event. What I had imagined to be the size of a smaller-scale food truck was actually blocking the entire entrance to the William Aiken House where attendees were greeted with plastic orange champagne flutes and gift bags containing either a glass champagne flute or a champagne bottle stopper—for those very rare occasions when you don't finish the whole bottle.
The only decision to make was where to start. Would it be with Veuve's rosé or the traditional brut? With deviled eggs from Michelle Weaver of Charleston Grill or duck prosciutto with oyster mushroom bread pudding from Magnolias' chef Kelly Franz? Pose for a picture in the photo booth or on a vintage orange motorcycle?
Featured chefs including Weaver, Franz, Jason Rheinwald of The Sanctuary, Nico Romo of FISH, and Matthew Niessner of Halls Chophouse had tables set up throughout the yard and surrounding courtyard, offering everything from foie gras monte cristo sandwiches (FISH) to gianduja chocolate parfaits with mango gelee and cognac macarons (The Sanctuary). Between the tables offering eats, numerous bars were set up throughout the space, providing heavy pours and no wait time—truly the only thing I waited for was the fizz to die down on a fresh glass.
Michelle Weaver's deviled eggs with dill and capers
Kelly Franz's duck prosciutto with oyster mushroom bread pudding
In one of the coolest DJ booths I've ever seen, DJ Natty Heavy spun out fresh remixes that resounded through the courtyard set with bar-height tables and orange Veuve patio umbrellas. Veuve mailmen and women dressed in post office attire bopped around, offering to take photos of attendees framed in an orange cut-out square made to look like a stamped letter. You could jump in front of the Veuve photo booth for a shot with your champagne glass and Charleston Wine + Food's signature gastronaut graphic. A calligraphy table offered the option to send Veuve postcards to friends and family. You could even play Jenga painted that signature orange.
DJ Natty Heavy
Wish you were here
The only thing better than the event was watching everyone there trying to capture it with the perfect Instagram. There were champagne bottles set precariously on the seat of one of the vintage motorcycles, orange flutes raised in mock toast, and even a staged shoot from the second floor of the William Aiken House looking down onto bottles of Veuve artfully displayed on the grass below. Talk about dedication.
So I did the math. Tickets to the event were $125. A bottle of Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label retails for around $50 (of course it varies place to place). Now let's say you had a $10 appetizer from each restaurant featured—Charleston Grill, FISH, The Sanctuary, Halls Chophouse, Magnolias—and a scoop of ice cream from Cirsea (Yes, they had ginger pear sorbet. Drool). All together, let's call it $55.
You're at $105 right there.
But that bottle of Veuve you bought, did it come with endless refills? Didn't think so. And those appetizers, were you allowed to go back for seconds and thirds? Nope. AND there was music. AND giftbags. AND orange sunglasses to take home. And enough Instagram-worthy moments to make your friends jealous until Charleston Wine + Food rolls back around in March. I'll drink to that.
Like they say at Charleston Wine + Food, there is always a reason to celebrate. Stay up to date with CHSWFF events and ticket sales here.