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A magnum of champagne, a crystal flute and a great ice bucket

I love champagne. This seems to be the time of year that most people drink it, but as far as I’m concerned, it is good any time.

The magnum in the photo is Cooks. It is an inexpensive California champagne, but it was a gift from a friend and the bottle looks good on my bar. I will never serve it, but having a magnum of champagne just sitting around looks festive. It is important, no matter what price champagne you are serving, to always serve it in a good crystal flute.

I am very fortunate to have a fabulous crystal ice bucket to chill the champagne in. Many years ago I was given this bucket as a gift. I knew it was Baccarrat, the fine French crystal and I knew it was expensive. I thought it was around $500. Recently I looked up their site online and was floored. This ice bucket now costs over $10,000.

So a $50 or $100 bottle of champagne doesn’t seem out of line, if you are serving it in a $10,000 champagne chiller.

In 1963 when I was twenty five years old, we lived in Seattle. The best restaurant in town was in the Olympic Hotel. They always served Domaine Chandon champagne with their holiday dinners. I wanted to buy a bottle of it for a special occasion.

At that time the liquor was controlled by the state of Washington and the only place to buy it was in a state liquor ‘store’. This was similar to the post office. There was a clerk behind the counter and you had to know what you wanted, because you couldn’t actually see the merchandise.

I went in to order a bottle of Domaine Chandon and was told that it only came by the case and a case of six was $36. I still remember lugging the case to the car, as there was no service at this store.

Today I was looking at the Safeway market ad, and there was an ad for Domaine Chandon. It is now $15.99 a bottle, but if you buy six, only $14.40.

I don’t think champagne is really good unless it’s from France. I know there are many California champagnes, but most of them give me a headache.

There is one very inexpensive champagne that I sort of like. It is one up from drinking a Diet Pepsi. It is called Flexinet and comes in a black bottle. The nice thing about this brand is that they make a single serving bottle, which is perfect for one. And when you are done drinking the champagne, the bottle makes a great little bud vase.

Since those olden days, I have a new favorite champagne, Moet Chandon. There are several different ones, but the one I like has a wide red stripe diagonally across the bottle. It is around $30 and New Years Eve just wouldn’t seem the same without it.

The other day I went to a Christmas party and the host and hostess served a most delicious champagne, Veuve Clicquot. I had three glasses and it was so good I made a note to track it down.

Imagine my surprise when there in the Safeway ad today it was a featured item. Now I know why it was so good. $44.43 per bottle. (Isn’t that an odd price?) But if you buy six bottles, only $39.99

The very best champagne I ever had in my whole life was Dom Perigon. It used to be around $100 a bottle, but lately I have seen it advertised for $149 and up.

The year was 1980 and I was dating a man who was the executive chef of the Hyatt hotel in Waikiki. Bagwells was his flagship restaurant and he had access to the best champagne and caviar. Our relationship didn’t last long but luckily over New Years Eve.

Bagwells was the premiere restaurant at the Hyatt. It was Chris Hemmeter’s favorite (I think he named it after his mother) and as he was the owner of the Hyatt Waikiki, he ate there almost every night.

One night I attended a dinner party that he gave. For dessert, he ordered one of everything on the dessert cart to be served around the table. Each person could only take one bite and then had to pass it to the left. This course was served with a magnum of Dom for the table.

In the center of the table was a crystal platter of chocolates, surrounded with dry ice. Now that is decadence!