Sweet, bubbly and inexorably linked with romance, Champagne is a no-brainer when it comes to kicking off an amorous evening. But let’s face it: even though it’s long been synonymous with luxury and lust, too many Champagnes just kind of taste the same. To save you from imbibing yet another indistinguishable flute of fizzy, sugary swill on V-Day, we consulted David Cohn, Champagne Specialist for Moet Hennessy, which owns Dom Perignon, Veuve Cliquot, Krug, Moet & Chandon and Ruinart. Here are his top five picks from Moet’s sprawling Champagne stable, from cheapest to most expensive.
Ruinart Blanc de Blanc
Established in 1729, Ruinart may be the world’s oldest Champagne house, but its 100 percent Chardonnay grape Blanc de Blanc remains as lively as ever. “It’s simultaneously intense and fresh, which makes it extremely versatile,” Cohn says. “Because it has such great acidity and zip, it pairs really well with fatty foods.”
Moët & Chandon Impérial Rosé
Just as rose’ has been re-discovered as everyone’s favorite easy-drinking party wine, this bright, fruity Champagne is sure to set the right mood. “It’s a great choice, with notes of strawberry, raspberry and cherry,” Cohn says. “There’s a misconception that rose’ is feminine, but I actually think it’s more robust.”
Veuve Clicquot Vintage Blanc 2004
A step up from Veuve’s popular “Yellow Label” bottle, this champagne is aged for six years and possesses an extra layer of complexity and depth within its fizzy pleasures. “This is a great first date Champagne, with fine bubbles and a generous freshness,” Cohn says.
Dom Pérignon 2004
A superior vintage from the best-known name in bubbly. An expertly trained palate can detect notes of sea spray, truffles, mushrooms and even cocoa. “The flavors come together in a complex yet seamless fashion,” Cohn says. “That distinct saltiness and salinity is what Dom Perignon stands for.”
Krug Grand Cuvee
One of the world’s top-rated Champagnes, the Grand Cuvee is a sommelier’s favorite known for voluptuous, decadent depths of flavors that can range from marzipan and gingerbread to hazelnut, nougat, citrus fruit, and honey. “It’s an exceptionally well crafted champagne. After you swallow it, you’re still going to be tasting it eight minutes later,” Cohn raves. “For me it’s hard to pick my favorite champagne, but if I could drink this every day, I would.”