On my very first visit to Reims, I remember marveling at how the French children collected Champagne caps—swapping them like American kids do baseball cards—the rarer the cap, the higher its currency. A decade or so later, shortly after I first met my husband, I noticed that we were amassing quite a collection ourselves. For a while, the caps and cages lined the window sill in our kitchen because they made me happy, each one a memory.
At some point I ran out of sill and began storing them in a bag in a closet. But I had a plan all along. For years I’ve been looking for just the right demijohn—a large glass bottle used to store wine during fermentation. My parents have a gorgeous green one from the 18th century. When we were little, my sister and I liked to drop copper pennies into it. So maybe it was fate that when we were up in Napa Valley last week visiting my parents for Christmas, my husband spotted a vintage vessel circa 1910 in a shop on Main Street, St. Helena. We brought the bottle home.
While Tiny G was napping earlier today, I spent an hour or so engrossed in organizing the Champagne caps by color, and stacking repeats, on our dining room table. They are so pretty.
My husband came home in the middle of this Very Important task and was clearly concerned, but graciously pretended that what I was doing was sane. Here are a few of my favorites, including the cap from the very first bottle he and I ever drank together, a 1995 Bollinger Grand Année that had been a gift.
We dropped all the caps into the demijohn. The bottle is destined to live next to the fireplace once the Christmas tree comes down, but here it is on our dining room table. Sure felt like a lot of caps going in (I’m thinking around a couple hundred?), but they barely made a dent. I guess we have a lifetime ahead to fill it up. Time to start celebrating.