I first crossed paths with Dr. Herbert Gould two decades past at a meet of the Golden’s Bridge Hounds in North Salem, N.Y. when the assembled field was told: “Today we have three masters – the MFH [Master of Foxhounds], the Field Master, and the Thigh Master.”

It was explained to me that this was a jovial reference to a TV commercial then-running featuring an exercise device called the Thighmaster, with a famous actress promising it was “invented by a doctor.” And there, in the TV commercial background, in his white coat, could be seen Dr. Gould, who created the exercise device while he was a U.S. Air Force flight surgeon.

It also seems that Dr. Gould is also a world-famous wine expert, the seneschal (which seems to be Gallic for “Big Cheese”) of French wine societies as the Chevalier de Tastevin and the Commandarie de Bordeaux, as well as the founder and president of the Physician’s Wine Society. And, while not riding to hounds and savoring wines, Dr. Gould had been an eye surgeon, a pioneer in the operation which corrects vision with a scalpel.

Dr. Herbert Gould.

Who, then, is better to recommend a thoughtful present for the persons who helped a rider through a difficult year?

Of course, he points to France, and within France, most assuredly, champagne, pointing out, “While there may be ‘New York Champagne’ and ‘California Champagne,’ those are poseurs. The only true champagne comes from the Champagne country east of Paris.”

As for recommendations, Dr. Gould says the perfect gift for that trainer who suffered through your cantering on the wrong lead in a hack class is a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow, generally around $55.

Dr. Gould reports that rose champagne, which used to be a rarity, has come into vogue (just as Provencal rose in the summer), and what can be more appropriate a gift for the spouse who languished through all those summer horse shows than a bottle of Ruinart Brut Rosé, for around $80?

Or, if he or she has been especially tolerant and not even flinched at the monthly farrier’s bill, how about a magnum (equivalent to two bottles) of Dom Pérignon “3” for a mere $2,895? Sure, you can remember when you could have bought a horse for that kind of money, but it’s 2018 and you have to splurge to make an impression.

For the guy who stopped on Route 22 to fix a flat on your horse trailer when you discovered you didn’t have a spare tire, Dr. Gould says Pommery is appropriate and fairly priced between $30-$40.

And then he offers a sleeper. A drinking friend of his, Audoine de Damppierre, used to, on visiting New York, bring along a bottle of his “private label” champagne. Dr. Gould admits he always figured this was a supermarket bottle with a label slapped on it, and used it for cooking or passed it along to friends. To his surprise and chagrin, in 2000, The Wine Spectator deemed that that Dampierre’s champagne was the “wine of the millennium.” All that nectar wasted.

But if you shop carefully on the web, you can find a current Dampierre vintage for $29.

-Photo credits: courtesy of Don Rosendale; flickr.com/Yi Wang.