Thursday, February 4, 2010

Choosing a Value Champagne for Valentine's Day

Although I spend my day in the world of healthcare IT, the areas I'm truly expert are mushroom toxicology, wine making, and outdoor activities in New England.

Whenever I'm asked to pick a wine at a restaurant, I search for the value wine - the best quality wine for the price, since there is seldom a relationship between price and quality. One hint on the menu - the second most expensive wine has the most markup. Since most people are afraid to buy the cheapest wine on the menu, it often has the least markup.

Valentine's Day is 10 days away and you may be buying Champagne (defined as a sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France)

Here's my guide to value Champagnes. My favorite houses are Roederer, Moet et Chandon, and Taittinger. Each has a famous Tete de Cuvee - the top of the line from any Champagne house. Each also makes a great French value Champagne and a great Domestic sparkling wine. Here are my recommendations

The house - Roederer
The tete de cuvée - Cristal $179.00
The value Champagne - Roederer Brut Premier $36.99
The sparkling wine - Roederer Estate Anderson Valley $18.99

The house - Moet et Chandon
The tete de cuvée - Dom Perignon $120.00
The value Champagne - Moet Chandon, Imperial $34.99
The sparkling wine - Domain Chandon $14.99

The house - Taittinger
The tete de cuvée - Taittinger "Comtes de Champagne" $104.99
The value Champagne - Taittinger La Francaise Brut Champagne $34.99
The sparkling wine - Domaine Carneros $19.99

What will I serve on Valentine's Day? Roederer Brut Premier. To me, it's the best value in Champagne - approaching Cristal perfection but at a fraction of the price.

Three hints -
1. Never suggest mixing good Champagne with orange juice. Mimosa's made with Dom Perginon taste about the same as those made with Andre Cold Duck.
2. Serve your champagne in a traditional Champagne flute to maintain a constant temperature and the right degree of carbonation release.
3. Keep a Champagne stopper handy to recork the bottle and retain the carbonation. You can keep a great Champagne in the refrigerator for days this way.


Anonymous said...

I agree with your selection of Louis Roederer as best value Champagne. I also plan to serve this on Valentine's Day. Taittinger is also good.

However, living in the UK, I have the advantage of Fortnum and Mason - grocers since 1707 and suppliers to the British royal family since 1863.

The wine bar in their basement serves a Champagne of the Month at 10% discount to shop prices - cheaper than my local supermarket. They offer a range from a single house so it is possible to conduct a vertical tasting.

Several of us meet occasionally after work to take advantage of the offer. The only time we were disappointed was when they served Möet et Chandon.

We didn't complain as the wine was not bad, simply not to our taste. However, when I ordered a bottle of Louis Roederer to follow, the manager noticed and gave me a £10 discount on that bottle.

W C Hitt said...

Excellent review of bubbly. Where does Piper fall on your list (or does it make it at)?

Dennis Stevenson said...


Love your "off topic" posts. Very nice change of pace!

I've been to the Domaine Chandon and Domaine Carneros wineries, and thought they did a very nice job of making a respectable sparkling wine. Not to mention that the property at Domaine Carneros is breathtakingly beautiful. When I visited the Domaine Chandon winery, I actually fell in love with some of their still wines! Felt funny to leave the place with no bubbly, but a half-case of Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay bottles.


Anonymous said...


You are truly a renissance man! I'd nominate another champagne, although it may not be available in your area: Gloria Ferrer Sanoma Brut. Great stuff and $16 a bottle at the better places.

Have a happy one!

Susan Warthman, Public Service Librarian said...

John- When you speak at NAHSL 2010 are you going to focus on how libraries are or should be changing with technology? A couple of years ago you did a blog post on that topic and I am wondering how it has changed, especially for your medical library at your hospital. I do love all of your postings and can't wait to hear you speak in October. Susan Warthman, Chair of 2010 NAHSL Conference in Newport, RI