Effervescence is Bubbling With Enthusiasm
Champagne is often associated with special celebrations, but what about celebrating champagne itself? As it happens, tomorrow, October 28, is Global Champagne Day – but at Effervescence restaurant and champagne bar, every day is a celebration of the bubbly beverage.
Or more accurately, beverages.
“Champagne is a small area about an hour north of Paris,” explained Effervescence owner/operator Crystal Hinds. “Only sparkling wines from this region can truly be called Champagnes.”
That said, there are still many delicious alternatives. “We focus on sparkling wine in general,” Hinds elaborated, citing cava, prosecco and pet nat among others.
Like many good things in life, champagne was discovered by accident. The soil in the Champagne region is a chalky limestone, an ideal environment for growing grapes. After the fall harvest, the bottles were put into cellars to age – and after one particularly cold winter, growers were dismayed to find that extra fermentation had caused many of the bottle caps to pop off.
The bubbles were at first considered a flaw in the wine, and vintners such as Dom Perignon (who, despite legend to the contrary, did not actually discover champagne) initially tried to remove them. But Perignon does deserve credit for recognizing the virtues of situation – though his famous “come quickly, I am tasting stars” quote is likely another myth – and began advancing the new wine style, even developing thicker bottles and sturdier lids so that the fermentation process could proceed. The taste of stars was thus indeed born.
Champagne is a beverage that seems to be surrounded by misconceptions, and as another one, Hinds cites the many individuals “who think they’ve tried it and don’t like it. The first champagne many people likely tried was probably bad champagne, maybe at a wedding, with lots of sugar added. That sugar is what causes the headaches.”
Hinds herself rarely drinks champagne at weddings, pointing out that few people can afford to buy a few hundred bottles of the good stuff. But back at Effervescence, she has a wide variety of sparkling beverages for sampling, across an equally wide variety of price points.
“We offer four tasting flights at different price levels,” she said. “Two are all champagne, two are other sparkling wines. With each glass, we give you the story behind it, the vines, the growers, the history.”
Hinds’ own history contained nothing to do with the restaurant business when she opened Effervescence back in 2017. She obtained a nursing degree in college and worked in the field for a few years, then became a stay-at-home mother for a child with special health care needs. However, she always had a taste for, and relationship with, the bubbles.
“My family is French and Italian,” she said. “We start any family celebration with a toast and the pop of a cork – it’s always a sparkling wine.”
She took advantage of her travels to expand her experience with champagne, and grew to particularly enjoy the idea of flights, since they offer a chance to taste more varieties while not forcing one to drink an entire bottle. Then, after her children grew up, she and her husband decided to move to the French Quarter.
“I had no real experience in the business, but I began by hiring my two executive chefs, who are still with us,” recalled Hinds. “I picked North Rampart Street because we wanted to open in our neighborhood, and it’s a place where people can come from all over.”
Despite being anchored around a beverage often associated with tuxedos and ball gowns, Effervescence is very much a down-home place.
“You can come here in shorts, you can come dressed up,” said Hinds. “We welcome everyone, and we treat everyone the same. I love talking to our customers.”
The restaurant selections reflect this same happy dichotomy: caviar is of course on the menu, but it is accompanied by homemade potato chips. Popcorn is featured prominently, and the wide variety of small plates offer something to please everyone’s palate.
Hinds definitely views sparkling beverages as celebratory, a way to build friendships and community – and even a little romance on occasion – so she is happy to celebrate Global Champagne Day.
“It’s a way to join the global community of champagne lovers,” she observed. “It started in 2009, and it is always the fourth Friday in October.”
Despite ongoing supply chain issues in beverage world, Effervescence will be pouring a few very special glasses in honor of the celebration; but then again, there are always some special glasses available in the restaurant. Despite her considerable advances in expertise – Hinds is now a level one sommelier – she is still anchored in her love of sparkling wines in all their forms, and her commitment to making it available to everyone, regardless of budget, apparel or taste.