that magical creation, defines luxury, the very
essence of celebration and indulgence. Extravagance to some,
for others it's a necessity. Legend has it Napoleon lost
the battle of Waterloo because his supply lines to the Champagne
cellars at Epernay were cut and he was reduced to drinking
Belgium beerfor want of a flute of Champagne, an empire
I call Champagne "the affordable luxury" because a split
can cost as little as $8 to $10 and provide a lovely toast
for two. It's undeniable the marvelous bubbly has been part
of many tales of exuberant excess. Who can forget the image
of Marilyn Monroe lounging in a Champagne bubble bathpink
bubbles, pink candlelight, pink bathroomher tub filled
with pink Champagne? She claimed it did wonders for her
skin and her spirits. King Edward VII of England reputedly
had an eye for the prettily turned ankles (and other parts)
of the ballet dancers at Covent Garden. Apparently he showed
his interest in meeting a dancer by asking for one of her
ballet slippers and drinking Champagne from it.
One Palm Beach socialite wanted to impress her friends so
much she installed a Champagne fountain where guests could
fill their flutes. And a woman in Chicago was so fond of
Veuve Clicquot she had the interior of her Rolls Royce done
entirely in the black and orange of her favorite Champagne
As a Texan born and bred, I can testify we indeed do things
in a big way. My favorite Texas extravagance is a friend
with a private bowling alley in his house. For his annual
Christmas party he replaces bowling pins with Champagne
bottles. The guest who hits a "Champagne strike" gets a
case of Champagne every month for a year. Another Texan
friend has a bar in his house that serves Champagne on tap.
Needless to say, his house is the most popular in Houston.
Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and especially weddings
are perfect occasions to indulge in Champagne extravagance.
If you really want to send an impressive gift, offer a Nebuchadnezzaror
20 bottles of Champagne. Or go for broke and make it a Sovereign36
bottles. Need some help making your selection? Here are
my five top picks:
Clicquot "Yellow Label" Reims
The "in" Champagne of the moment: predominantly Pinot Noir
grapes with a crisp, full-bodied style. Clean and balanced!
2. Champagne Pol Roger, Epernay,
Winston Churchill's favorite Champagne, a real sleeper!
A floral Champagne, medium-bodied, with a long stylish finish.
3. Perrier-Jouet Fleur de Champagne
A silky, elegant, well-balanced Champagne. Full-bodied,
offering subtle complex accents of toasted almond to complement
its fruit. $99.95-110.00 Sherry-Lehmann/Morrell
4. Champagne Piper Heidsieck Reims
A split of Champagne (1 1/2 glasses): Medium-bodied, well-balanced
and lively, fruity with hints of summer apple and pear.
Excellent price value! A great holiday gift to give by the
case. $7.99-8.99 Sherry-Lehmann/Garnet/Morrell
5. Champagne Jacquart-Reims
Brut Mosaique Cuvee is the flagship of the house. A blend
of 50% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir, and 15% Pinot Meunier.
Aged three years in the cellar. $24.95-29.95 Morrell/Garnet
"The Champagne Lady," is the author of Champagne… Uncorked!
The Insider's Guide to Champagne, as well as featured
on her own radio show "Champagne & Chefs." Visit her at: