I need to come clean about something. It wasn’t too many years ago that I really didn’t care for Champagne. After all the weddings and at least 15 New Years Eves and countless other occasions, I was pretty underwhelmed with the stuff. It was astringent, chalky and the pleasure of the bubbles didn’t really make up for the flavor.
But then one day someone handed me a glass (I don’t remember exactly what it was) and I came to a horrible, immediate realization. Up until that point I had just never had any GOOD Champagne.
My lack of experience with quality Champagne was perfectly understandable at the time, given how much money I, and the people I hung out with, were typically spending on all our wine, sparkling and otherwise. It’s a sad reality of the wine world that by and large most quality Champagne starts at about $35 to $40 a bottle, and the really good stuff starts in the $60 to $80 price range.
I quickly did everything I could to correct my misguided understanding of what the Champagne world had to offer, but it was not an easy task. There are very few opportunities to taste a lot of Champagnes side-by-side, even if you are a member of the trade. As a consumer, such opportunities are incredibly rare, especially compared to the relative frequency of opportunities to taste, say, as many Zinfandels as you want, or a lot of Rhone Varietals.
All of which brings me to next Monday, September 28th. If you are interested in giving yourself a little education when it comes to Champagne, or if you’re educated already and simply want to soak yourself in a few bubbles, then you ought to be in line at 5:00 PM upstairs at the Ferry Plaza Building on 9/28 for the annual Masters of Wine Champagne Tasting.
Put on by the Institute for the Masters of Wine as both a fundraising as well as a general outreach event, this tasting offers an incredible opportunity to taste some of the world’s best Champagnes, poured by some of the world’s most knowledgeable wine experts. The last one of these tastings I attended, all the top cuvees from Dom Perignon, Salon, Taittinger, Bollinger, Roederer and more were on offer. The Institute claims that this tasting is “the most prestigious tasting of Champagne in North America,” and who is going to argue with…The Institute?
Of course, I’m now officially a Champagne fan, and my love for good Champagne has been deepening for several years. I kid you not when I say that not a week goes by when I don’t think to myself that I should be buying, cellaring, and drinking more Champagne. And just as soon as we get through this recession, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
In the meantime, I’m going to go hang with the MWs and taste as much as they’ll pour me next week. You should too.
Masters of Wine Champagne Tasting
Monday, September 28th, 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Ferry Building Marketplace
One Ferry Building, Second Floor
San Francisco, California 94111
Tickets for this event are $50 and should be purchased in advance online (the event will most likely sell out, as there is limited capacity). Proceeds benefit the Institute for the Masters of Wine, and in particular their scholarships for aspiring students, I believe.