I ask myself this question whenever an event comes up. Some events are surefire excuses for gifting Champagne — a wedding, an anniversary, or a fancy Christmas party. Other events are less easy to predict. Is it appropriate to bring Champagne to a first date? What about meeting a significant other’s parents for the first time?
There are a few rules of thumb to remember when considering a gift of Champagne. First, let’s come to an understanding of what Champagne is.
All sparkling wines are not Champagnes. Champagne refers to sparkling wine made in a specific region in France. The name “Champagne” is closely guarded, and for good reason. The Champagne region of France is very small, and the people who make and enjoy wine from this region are incredibly proud of their product. Legend has it that Champagne inventor Dom Perignon (a monk) exclaimed “I’m tasting stars!” upon his first taste of Champagne, and if you haven’t tried it yet, your experience will be similar. Champagne, made the traditional way, can be a sublime experience.
How “Fancy” Is The Event You’re Attending?
If you try to bring Champagne to a backyard barbeque, you might embarrass the host or the attendees by overshooting the mark. A backyard barbeque is the perfect place to bring a nice red that matches well with meat — like a Syrah or a Cabernet Sauvignon. Unless the backyard in question belongs to an ex-President, a backyard barbeque is not the perfect place for Champagne. Always consider the set (the people at the event) and the setting (where the event is located) before purchasing an expensive bottle.
How Many People Will Be Drinking Your Bottle?
Since Champagne (real Champagne) can be pretty expensive, with some bottles costing well over $100 or $200 dollars, a large event where a large number of people will be partaking of your wine is not the ideal environment for a Champagne gift. If you’re attending a small dinner party, say 8 people or less, a nice bottle of Champagne (or even two bottles if you can swing it) would make an excellent gift.
If You’re Gifting The Bottle To An Individual – How Well Do You Know Them?
A first date or a casual acquaintance may be a little surprised if you offer them an obviously upscale bottle of Champagne, or any other varietal for that matter. I once made the mistake of bringing a bottle of
Nicolas Feuillatte Vintage 1996 on a first date, attempting to impress the young lady. Not only did she turn her nose up at the taste, she seemed put off by my flashiness. While there are certainly some people who would be impressed by the presentation of such a fine bottle, she was not one of them. This is the risk you run when overgifting Champagne. Similarly, if you present a bottle that’s over the top to a new boss or new employee, you run the risk of seeming too pushy or trying too hard. Never a good move in the world of business.
Use your common sense when considering the gift of a fine product like Champagne. It is a celebratory and often delicious wine, but in the wrong hands it can be an awkward presence. There are plenty of excellent wines that would gift just as well as a fancy Champagne — explore your wine shop and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
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