Suffice it to say, I don’t exactly have a champagne budget, but this New Year’s Eve I decided to splash out and treat myself to my first taste of real champagne (my dad swears I have tasted champagne before as a child in England, but 1. I don’t remember it, and 2. he says I didn’t like it, probably because as a kid I had a very sweet tooth – for which I am still paying a steep dental price – and champagne is a dry wine).
So on December 30th I went out and bought a bottle of Moët & Chandon Imperial, which was on special for $45 at the supermarket. To put this into perspective, like many Kiwis my usual celebratory drop is a wine from New Zealand’s own Lindauer range of ‘sparkling wine’ (because you can only call it ‘Champagne’ if it comes from the right part of France), which retails for $10-$15 a bottle and is somehow still able to win the odd award and rate a favourable mention in Britain’s Telegraph.
Was it worth it? I think so. First of all, I got to try actual champagne. Also, I got to share it with my good friends Varya and Steve and their eldest son, and good company makes good wine even better. As soon as I opened the bottle (spilling a bit in the process because, you know, complete lack of experience!) I could smell that this was not Lindauer. The aroma was much stronger and more complex: ‘yeast’, yes, but this was the kind of yeast I remember from when I used to make sourdough bread – rich, complex yeasts, plural – plus butter, citrus, pears and apricots. Having bread in mind from the yeast-and-butter thing, to me this became lemon curd (Varya, by the way, makes an excellent lemon curd) and apricot conserve. There were lots of bubbles and the flavour, like the aroma, was richer and more complex than Lindauer.
In other words, I enjoyed every drop, although I actually finished my second glass well before midnight on the basis that much as I love my friends I wanted to be far enough under the limit to drive home at 12:30am.
Will I give up Lindauer? With a $35 price difference, and the fact that Lindauer make 200ml bottles that are great if you’re spontaneously toasting a small celebration alone or with a friend, the answer is ‘heck, no!’ Will I remember that for a very special treat it’s well worth splashing out on a bottle of the real thing? Heck, yes!
Have you tried ‘real’ champagne? How did it stack up against other sparkling wines?
Always drink responsibly. One standard drink of wine is approximately 100ml (3.3 fl oz). The New Zealand Ministry of Health recommends that women consume no more than 2 standard drinks a day, and no more than 10 standard drinks a week, and that men consume no more than 3 standard drinks a day and no more than 15 standard drinks a week (note that this is slightly lower than the limits recommended by the World Health Organisation). The World Health Organisation recommends that women abstain from alcohol during pregnancy. In New Zealand the legal drinking age is 18. Do not drink if you are under the legal age to do so in your country. It is illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol.