The Only Guide to Champagne You’ll Ever Need
Wherein we skip the same old tasting notes for some unvarnished truth about what the bottle you choose says about you.
The Bottle: Armand de Brignac Brut Gold
The Damage: $330
What it says about you: You have more money than sense. It’s not that this wine is bad, it’s that its price derives, not from the bubbly juice inside, but that the music industry—besotted by it’s shiny bottle—has flocked to the brand. Jay Z is an investor (props J) and Iggy Azalea “raps” about it (“Cup of Ace, cup of Goose, cup of Cris,” translates to Armand de Brignac, Grey Goose and Cristal) all of which should be warning signs for purchasing a bottle of this pricey champagne.
The Bottle: Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label
The Damage: $64
What it says about you: You’re reliable, if a little expected. Like a golden retriever. There’s nothing wrong with this Champagne—it’s delicious and consistent and well priced, but that is also its potential Achilles’ Heel. It’s just so darn ubiquitous that, notwithstanding its quality, it suffers from its accessibility—like Betty in the Archie comics. Also note that its amazing popularity is largely a North American phenomena—in France it’s far less of a presence. I have a golden retriever, BTW.
The Bottle: Mumm Cordon Rouge
The Damage: $54
What it says about you: You remember the Kennedy assassination—because you were already 42 when it happened. Again, no harsh critique of the juice—these aren’t tasting notes—but this iconic brand has needed a major refresh since the elder Trudeau was still in office. This could actually work if you brought it ironically, in a throwback Mad Men sort of way.
The Bottle: Krug Grand Cuvee
The Damage: $250
What it says about you: You want the best, you don’t want to take chances and you’re willing to pay for it. My guess is that if you took a poll of wine critics as to their fave bubbles this brand would be the one constant on everyone’s list. It’s simply amazing, but even it comes with a few caveats: it’s quite heavy and rich, which is not to everyone’s taste. And among the well-heeled, serious champagne drinkers it’s as expected as Veuve is among the plebs. Still—it is almost guaranteed to light even the most jaded eyes up when it pops into a room.
The Bottle: Dom Perignon
The Damage: $220
What it says about you: A tricky one. On the one hand it’s the most expected, most iconic, most recognized of the high-priced champagnes so that can be a problem for someone looking to make a splash. But if you buy it knowing all those things and say, “Damn the torpedoes!” because it’s still fantastic, you’re a very confident sort making a bold power play, because you know what? Dom is every bit as amazing as Krug, but with a more delicate profile. If you want to hedge this bet you can go for a slightly more esoteric bottling of Dom—like the Bjork (yes, that Bjork) Rose.
The Bottle: Taittinger Comtes de Champagne
The Damage: $245
What it says about you: You’re an English lord or a huge James Bond fan (and you pronounce the wine Taht—in—jer, regardless of how the actual French would say the word). This pricey 100 percent chardonnay wine is an off-beat, but pretty cool, choice for someone not caught up in the high-end arms race as Taittinger prefers to stay out of such nonsense.
The Bottle: Cristal Rose
The Damage: $569
What it says about you: You’re a dupe. For starters Cristal—while great wine—is seriously in the Armand de Brignac territory in terms of popularity of those who mix it with coke. And Coke. But worse, the non-rose Cristal is only $269, which means you’re paying more than double for the colour. (But at least Cristal Rose is produced using the saignée method unlike the majority of rose champagnes which add a splash of red wine—I’m not kidding). Strictly amateur hour if you show up with this, which is tough for an almost $600 wine. I’ll still drink it, mind you…
And that goes for all these bottles—Happy New Year!