“Champagne is the only wine that leaves a woman beautiful after drinking it.” –Madame De Pompadour
It is no secret that my beverage of choice is champagne. As a young girl I was obsessed with the show Dynasty, and I adored one of the main characters, Alexis Carrington, portrayed by Joan Collins. She was always dressed to the nines and dripping in diamonds with a glass of champagne in her hand. Before Madonna, she was my first idol. Fast forward a few years later and I had my first sip of Dom Perignon on Christmas Day. As I watched as the bubbles dance around in my champagne flute, I knew I was sipping on something special.
December 25th, 1998 was the day I fell in love with champagne and my love has grown even stronger over the last thirteen years.
My next memorable champagne moment came in November of 2000 while I was cocktailing at the Hedley Club inside the beautiful Hotel De Anza in downtown San Jose, CA. One of my favorite customers was vising from New Jersey and I was telling him that I was leaving for Italy the next day. As we spoke about my trip, he asked me for a bottle of Perrier Joet and a Basil Hayden on the rocks. As I presented him with the bottle and began to open it, he stopped me and said to just leave it on the table and then asked for the check. Puzzled, I figured he was bringing it to his room so I promptly brought the check and offered to have the bottle delivered to him. As he signed his check, he smiled and said, “This bottle is for you, kid. Have a fabulous time in Italy.” As I stood there in pleasant shock with my mouth hanging open, he said I was his favorite waitress and wanted to show his appreciation. When he left the lounge, I went to close out his check and saw that he had tipped me $100 and wrote a note on his check that said “Buy yourself a nice bottle in Rome and enjoy yourself.” My love for champagne grew even more that night!
Champagne has always marked a memorable occasion in my life and ever since that first sip of Dom Perignon, I celebrate every Christmas Day with a nice bottle of bubbly. My love for all things sparkling has led me to collect champagne ice buckets, flute glasses and champagne inspired artwork. One day as I was browsing the internet on a “champagne search” , I came across a website called “The Champagne Diet.” Intrigued, I immediately clicked on the site and was awstruck! The tagline reads: “The Rules (and Cocktail Recipes) for Living Your Most Effervescent Life.” I knew I had stumbled upon something pretty spectacular, so I decided to pour myself a glass of bubbly and indulge my mind while browsing the site. Filled with recipes, beautifully written articles and even a “Bubbly Boutique,” I felt like this site was created just for me. I looked up the genius behind the site and saw that it was a girl named Cara. I contacted her and told her how much I loved her site. This past week I had the pleasure of interviewing Cara via email and found her to be not only beautiful and smart, but she has a bubbly personality that will warm your heart.
Interview with Cara Alwill Leyba of The Champagne Diet
How did you come up with the idea for your site?
(Cara) The idea for The Champagne Diet came about in 2007. A friend introduced me to Champagne when I was looking for a low-calorie beverage to enjoy. I learned that a glass of bubbly only has about 100 calories in a glass, so it quickly became my go-to drink. Hello? Can ya blame me? But it wasn’t just the calorie count that had me hooked. I noticed whenever I drank Champagne, I felt more beautiful. I stood taller at the bar when I held a delicate flute in my hand. Coincidentally, Champagne also entered my life at a point where I needed to make some personal changes as well. I suddenly learned to let go of the negativity and start celebrating all the good. Champagne is typically a drink associated with celebrations, but I started incorporating it into my every day. Champagne essentially became a metaphor for my new life. I also developed a ritual where I would make a toast each night. No matter what, I found something to raise my glass to – whether it was getting through Spin class, finishing a presentation at work, or simply making it through the day – I found something to celebrate. I started the site as a way to share my story and it’s grown into something bigger and more amazing than I could have ever imagined. I love connecting with all of the amazing, inspiring women who read my blog and I hope to continue to reach out to even more of you!
What is your favorite Champagne/Sparkling wine?
(Cara) It depends. I can always go for a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Brut, but I also love my rose. I think my favorite sparkling rose lately has been Chandon Rose. It’s really affordable and so delicious!
Champagne goes best with…..
(Cara) Good friends and a lot of laughter.
If you could have a glass of champagne with anyone, who would it be?
(Cara) If you hadn’t noticed, I absolutely adore Marilyn Monroe. I’d die to go back in time and have a glass with her. I’d get her drunk and make her tell me all her secrets.
What are your favorite food pairings with champagne?
(Cara) Definitely Japanese, Chinese, and also anything spicy. It sounds weird, but Champagne and really spicy Mexican food is amazing.
Tell me a little about yourself and your background.
(Cara) I’m a writer from NYC. I started writing when I was 16 when a good friend and I started a music zine. I actually had the balls to call up record labels and request interviews with bands like Blink 182 – but the best part is, we actually got them. I worked on my zine for years and was certain I wanted to work in the music industry. I went on to write for sites like AOL Music and MTV News, but quickly learned that writing doesn’t pay the bills (at least not the bills you rack up when you shop the way I do). My passion for music led me to work at MTV, where I’ve been for the past five years. I’m a Digital Advertising Director and if you don’t know what that means, don’t worry, nobody really understands what I do. I prefer to identify myself with The Champagne Diet anyway, which is my real baby. I’m married to a wonderful man who shares the same obsession with food and wine like I do, so that works out great. We have a dog which will hold us over for a few more years till I have a kid – but that’s not happening until I give birth to a couple books first.
What are your future plans for The Champagne Diet?
(Cara) My first book is in the works! I have dreamed about writing this book even before I started my blog. I view The Champagne Diet as a brand, so a couple books, a Champagne Diet tour including ladies nights all around the country (and world!) where I can connect in person with all the fabulous ladies I chat with all the time through Twitter and Facebook. I just want to continue to encourage women to live their most effervescent lives and find reasons to raise their glass every day!
I am so glad to have connected with Cara. Her vision is one I can really identify with and, like her, I have always made champagne a part of my everyday lifestyle. I hope to meet her for a glass of champagne at The Bubble Lounge the next time I am in New York City. The Bubble Lounge in San Francisco is my favorite bar in the world and I have been dreaming of visiting their location in New York City for quite some time.
Cheers to you Cara!
“Champagne makes you feel like it’s Sunday and better days are just around the corner.” –Marlene Dietrich
“I drink champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty”. ~ Madame Lilly Bollinger
“Come quickly ! I’m tasting stars!” -Dom Pierre Perignon, French Benedictine Monk, (1638 – 1715)
“There comes a time in every woman’s life when the only thing that helps is a glass of champagne.” -Bette Davis, American actress ( 1908 – 1989)