Monday, December 29, 2008

The Widow Cliquot

Most of you know that I'm a sucker for a good story about a strong woman who succeeds against the odds. Most of you don't know, however, that I'm also a big fan of a crystal flute filled with a sparkling French brut, especially at this time of year.

Imagine my elation when I found this book review in Sunday's New York Times, praising Tilar J. Mazzeo's latest literary cocktail, "The Widow Cliquot." It's the story of the woman behind the ubiquitous bottle of bubbly with the yellow label: Veuve (widow) Cliquot.

Widowed at the tender age of 27, Mme. Cliquot took over her late husband's successful winery and, with a business acumen that Donald Trump would envy, created the world's first Champagne Empire. Sneaking her bubbly around naval blockades, winning the heart of the Russian Czar and the loyalty of the London clubgoers, Mme. Cliquot created a tradition and a name that have spanned centuries. Not bad, for a 19th century widow.

So, as you pop those corks tomorrow and those tiny bubbles tickle your nose, raise a glass to the Widow Cliquot. And while you're at it, take a bit of her advice as well: "One must go before others, be determined and exacting, and let your intelligence direct your life. Act with audacity."

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