The Champagne of … Champagnes

A few years ago, an old friend stopped by with a gift. Last Saturday night, in our living room with some even older friends, we opened it.

It was a 1995 Cuvée Dom Pérignon.

I love wine, but I don’t love paying a lot for it. My goal when I go to the wine store is to average less than $10 a bottle. I’ve spent less on a case of wine than what this bottle cost. I’ve probably spent less on two cases. Of course, those other wines don’t come with their own individual boxes, or a pamphlet explaining the significance of the particular vintage (1995, it appears, had a dull spring but an exceptional summer).

Was it worth it? Well, I didn’t actually pay for it, so in that sense it was definitely worth it. Would I do it again? I’m not sure. I’m certainly not opposed to splurging for a special occasion, but I don’t know if a single bottle of wine would be the way I’d choose to spend $100-plus. I’d always figure that there were two $50 bottles that were nearly as good, but would offer more total pleasure (or, for that matter, four $25 bottles, or …).

That said (and this is coming from a guy who doesn’t generally much like champagne), this wine was amazing. It had a smell that hinted at the labor and effort that had gone into crafting it, but without the must you sometimes associate with a 10-year-old wine. It was peachy with hints of vanilla, and the bubbles weren’t so frothy as to be obnoxious — instead they just added to the luminescence as it slid down your throat.

So now when I go back to my $10 merlots, my occasional indulgence on a $12.99 pinot noir, or my guilty pleasure in a $16 priorat, I’ll know what I could be drinking. Of course, more valuable still was a great long weekend with wonderful friends. As a new workweek begins, I’m truly sad to see them go. I’d definitely spend well over $100 for more good times with them!

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