A great friend of mine is having a champagne brunch to celebrate the completion of her PhD. Uncharacteristically, she went to buy the champagne without asking me. This was odd because she often calls me from Argentina or Sweden or wherever to get my suggestions when she's out to dinner. So what did she buy? "I bought PJ and Clicquot." As the wine was already in her trunk, I kept my mouth shut and tried not to take it as a personal assault, because I've been speaking out quite a lot this year about LVMH, Clicquot's parent company. I felt that left to her own devices, her natural instinct would be to avoid the yellow label. On a hunch, I emailed our mutual friend who started me on the path of higher wine, over 25 years ago. I wrote, "Did you advise her to buy THOSE wines?" He wrote back, "Yes. Not to drink - to serve at a celebratory brunch. I think label recognition counts for something, and the VC was on sale all over town last week for around $35. You can't get grower's Champagne for less." I was really surprised by his recommendation especially because he was the first guy to turn me on to Selosse and I can't imagine him buying these wines for himself unless they were really inexpensive. Also, I was confused about his comment that it wasn't to 'drink,' but to 'serve.' Of course the wine is there to drink? No? The point here is that she is a very quality concerned person who, for as long as I know her, couldn't care about a ‘status’ label nor would she ever think pouring something recognizable would matter to her guests. If it was on sale for $20, I could see his advice but, at $35, having spent some time in analysis, I sought deeper meaning. In the end, no one is going to be judging the bottles, everyone will be happy for the bubbles and for the real new label. Her PhD was hard won, extremely well deserved-- the real thing.