Ahhh, champagne. That wonderful carbonated concoction is de rigueur for holiday celebrations. Here are three you need to know.



Sorry to disappoint those of you who have been slaving over a hot stove baking treats for Santa, but word has it that the Fat Man is now off cookies and milk altogether. Doctor's orders. There's only so much lactose one can take at Santa's age. So hold the coconut macaroons. Nix the pecan sandies. Later for those gingersnaps.

This year, Santa is only stopping at houses that offer a more high-priced spread. A jar of beluga caviar, for instance, or a nice plate of smoked salmon. And Santa's not going to be asking whether you've "Got milk?" either.

He'll expect a glass of properly chilled French champagne to wash down his midnight treat. If you're really hoping for Saint Nick to leave a Cartier bracelet or the keys to that Ferrari under your tree, it had better be darned good champagne, too. Any of these three bottles should certainly serve the occasion. If Santa finds one of these classy quaffs by the fireplace, your holiday wish list will be a done deal.

By the way, reports say that the widespread use of solar heating has really cramped Santa's style in the past few years. With no chimneys to slip down, his delivery schedule has slowed considerably. So there's always a chance that Santa won't show up as his waiting champagne cools to its optimal drinking temperature. Pity - you might just have to polish off the bubbly yourself.

LAURENT-PERRIER 1990 GRAND SIÈCLE ALEXANDRA ROSÉ ($250)
During the reign of Louis XIV, the French court was riding at the pinnacle of culture, so much so that the whole era became known as the Grand Siècle - the "Great Century." At Versailles, the Hall of Mirrors reflected the Sun King's magnificence in an endless shimmer. Just as the height of Louis' wig was reaching its zenith, a new beverage arrived on the scene - champagne.

Laurent-Perrier's tête de cuvée is named after this age of French magnificence. It's bottled in a replica of the flasks used in the 17th century. In its rosé version, Grand Siècle is the rarest wine in the Laurent-Perrier portfolio, which includes several other superb champagnes as well. This one was originally created as a surprise wedding gift for the owner's eldest daughter, Alexandra de Nonancourt. It's aged on the lees for nine years, giving it amazing depth, complexity, and character. This is an extraordinarily rich sparkling wine - among the very best in the world.