Last night, for fifty dollars as part of a benefit for the Boy’s and Girl’s Club, you could go to the “connoisseur room” of the Big Red Wine Festival at the Bloomington Convention Center. Ths is an annual event but I’d never been before. The ticket gave me the chance to sample some 59 different wines, ranging in retail price up to $120 a bottle. At first I found it really difficult to taste at all critically over such a huge range of wines. Fortunately a good idea struck me: drink Champagne, stupid! There were ten real Champagnes and a couple of other sparking wines to taste, and this is a manageable amount for an amateur like me. I find it surprising that, entirely apart from the alcohol, just the variety of tasting a dozen different wines is hard work for the taste buds. After the Champagnes, I tried a few other wines but they were closed books to my senses. I found three Champagnes I particularly liked. First, the Pommery Cuvee Louise. This was a big wine, with persistent bubbles and a lovely flavor of raspberries? Red currants? At $120 a bottle, I can hardly claim a discovery. But the $42 Egly-Ouriet Brut nonvintage Tradition was very similar and every bit as good. This is a big wine and it wants a lobster or a rich cheese. The other hit was the Trouillard Brut Cuvee du Fondateur 1995. This $60 wine, unlike the Egly-Ouriet, is made entirely from white grapes and tastes of pears and peaches, with notes of toast, nuts, and yeast. It doesn’t want a lobster at all. It just wants someone to drink it. It makes sense to have a bottle of this chilled and waiting. That way, you’re ready for a friend to finish a book, for someone you love to stop by, for your grandchildren to be born. If all you have cold is some beer, all you’re ready for is mowing the lawn.