One of the less talked about side effects of drinking champagne is the amount of memorabilia that is accumulated. Collections of unforgettable moments that you just don’t want to throw away. There are the empty bottles, the caps, the beautiful presentation cases, even the corks. That Krug 1988 that we drank on our 10th wedding anniversary – how can that end up in the bin? The beautiful Bollinger RD wooden presentation box from the birth of our youngest child – couldn’t possibly get rid of it!
I have found some solutions along the way, but it generally means that the top of my books shelves end up looking like a row of empty soldiers looking down at our every move.
Boxes are also problematic, but I have managed to use them to house computer cables, sunglasses, and our ever expanding collection of TV remote controls (I am sure they are breeding). Still, I have an awful lot of cupboard space wasted with pretty boxes that will probably never again see the light of day, but I just can’t part with them.
The best collection I have, and possibly the easiest to keep up, is the caps. People who collect champagne caps are known as ‘placomusophiles’ – a word I particularly like, because it sounds so exotic, but really just translates as ‘cap collector’. Even though champagne caps have been around since 1844, the term ‘placomusophile’ was only coined in the 1980’s by a man named Claude Mailliard. He was from the village of Vertus, in the Côtes des Blancs. Vertus now calls itself the ‘World Capital of the Champagne Cap’ (it sounds better in French), and as such, they host an exhibition of champagne caps every year on the 11th november. Lest we forget!
It’s difficult to know exactly how many different champagne caps exist, but it is believed to be upwards of 30,000. Producers have cottoned on to the idea of collections, and many are now paying more attention to the caps they use. Some use different colours for different cuvées and different years. My personal favourite comes from Vilmart – a reproduction of the stained glass window made by the father of the current winemaker.
There are so many ways you can store champagne caps – in clear glass vases, at the bottom of drawers, or in specially designed presentation frames, that sit beautifully on a wall and are sure to start a great dinner party discussion.
However, I have recently found my very favourite way to display a cap, and so very appropriate. A company called ‘Wearing Memories’ has created a ring, that has a bracket that holds one single cap that can be interchanged as required. So, if you go out with your friends, you can immediately wear the memory of your evening. I love it!
Now to find a solution for the other 29,000 caps in my boxes!!