Kim Beto on Champagne

Photo from Vintrust

Kim Beto is known by numerous industry folk for his dynamic and inspired work with Southern Wine & Spirits, but prior to working with Southern, he was the Director of Beverage for the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. Many also know him from his days as the Wine Director and GM at Postrio, and prior to that, he was at his restaurant, 231 Ellsworth.

Whenever I suggest a glass of Champagne to my friends or guests, the first thing I usually hear is, "What are we celebrating?" But my feeling is that one does not necessarily need a reason to drink bubbles. Who said is has to be a birthday or an anniversary?

I drink Champagne because of the millions of bubbles, the beautiful texture, the amazing aromas and aaaaaah, that long vibrating finish. Nothing quite like it. Champagne tends to change the look on people's faces and maybe even their attitude at times.

Americans only drink a half a glass per person, per year! Even the small country I come from, Sweden, out-drinks the U.S. So we need to change this attitude that Champagne is only an occasion-oriented drink.

All restaurants have multiple choices by the glass now, maybe including de Cuvée," such as Dom Perignon, if you care to splurge. Another great way to start a meal is by sharing a half bottle. Today you can even drink a Pommery "Pop" with a straw or a sweeter dessert wine style like Moët & Chandon's "Nectar Imperial." There are all kinds of styles, sizes and flavors—and you only get to know them by trying them!

Champagne is also a perfect "food wine" because of its high acidity, and is a perfect pairing for Chinese, Thai, Indian or Japanese. Next time you have Chicken Tikka, try a sip of Gosset Brut Excellence, NV, which is bright and fresh with brioche and apple notes. Gosset is the oldest Champagne house, since 1584! (You can also get it for $26.99 at K&L.)

Rose Champagne is very trendy, and who can blame that super trendy pink drinker? Not only does it look cool, but Rose Champagne is generally more complex and has a bit more body. Real Champagne purists have it with their meat course. While visiting the Champagne region, when I asked for red wine with my "Filet au Poivre," I was served Dom Perignon Rose, like it was an everyday occurrence. Since I am not very hip, I acted like it was not a very big deal, but my brain was saying RIGHT ON! Laurent Perrier makes a stellar and hard-to-get rose in my opinion. Excellent combination of super crisp acidity, deep mouth-feel with full body and ripe raspberry (around $55 retail).

Ever since the first time I ever drank Krug Champagne, it has been my absolute favorite. I admit it: I am totally enamored by this Champagne house and their passion for excellence. 1979 Krug in Magnum! Forget about it! If you can still find it, '90 Krug was one of the best wines I have tasted in recent years. What I call a "sick wine!" A wine that brings you an immediate smile and the flavors hit you from all angles and mostly hits your soul. Very high-end and blows "Cristal" away big time!

I can't believe I am telling all of you, since I want this to be my secret—the last thing I want is this gem to go up in price. "No Krug, no thanks" is their slogan, and I agree. You can find Krug Grande Cuvee, MV for about $120 and '95 Krug at $160 (98 points) in the market at your finest retail shops. Try the Ferry
Plaza Wine Merchant

I don't feel we need a reason to drink Champagne; I say, "be fabulous" and enjoy some today!

~Kim Beto
VP at Southern Wine and Spirits
Host of Wine TV