Most people have a favourite champagne, and their reasoning behind it will be entirely emotional. Chances are they'll associate it with a major occasion in their life - a wedding, a birth, a special birthday. The actual quality of the champagne is of secondary importance. It can't be disgusting, but it doesn't need to be 'better' than any of its rivals.
Objectively, wine people are far luckier: we get to taste hundreds of champagnes, from the very worst to the very best, in every conceivable style. That means we can choose our favourites based on the flavours and styles we like most - unlike the poor suggestible proletariat.
On those terms, my favourite champagne is Salon. I've tasted it several times, and it was one of the first champagne houses I visited. I've tried mature vintages which have been completely transcendent, and my scores on JancisRobinson.com are (almost) all very high. I love Blanc de Blancs champagnes, and Salon make the best example I've ever tasted.
This week, I became a Master of Wine. If ever a moment demanded champagne, this was it.
In anticipation, I had looked around online and found a bottle selling for below £250, which is about as cheap as it gets. Add to basket. Proceed to checkout.
I was about to put my card details in, but I knew I couldn't enjoy it enough to justify the price, which is many times higher than my normal spend. It's all very well deciding which champagne is your favourite when you taste it for free, but when you're spending your own cash, different rationale applies.
I reckoned that I could get just as much pleasure from something less than half the price, and wouldn't get the sweats for overspending. So I bought a bottle of Jacquesson 2002 from Reserve Wines in Altrincham market when I was up there recently visiting family, for about £90 - still on the high side for me - but crucially out of the guilty zone.
I hadn't tasted it before, but bought it because it had a good score from Jancis, was the right price, and I liked what I saw in the shop - a small but well curated range (anywhere that sells Suertes del Marques is doing the right thing in my book). All very logical. But after celebrating becoming a Master of Wine with that bottle, I'm now going to love Jacquesson 2002 for far more emotional reasons, which - as any poor suggestible proletarian will tell you - is far more meaningful.
PS and it was DELICIOUS!