How to Select Good Champagne

how-to-select-good-champagne

Choosing the perfect bottle of champagne shouldn’t be difficult if you understand the basics. Before you make your selection there are several important things to consider when deciding between the wide variety of champagnes available. Make sure to:

1. Understand the origins.  Champagne, with a capital c, refers to varieties made exclusively in the Champagne of France. Other champagnes, known also as sparkling wines, are made in various areas across the globe including California, Australia, and Italy. The varieties produced in France are held to a highly specific production standard called appellation. This process is an ancestral method and requires strict adherence to each individual step.

2. Decide on a price range.  There is a wide range of prices available for different varieties. Champagne from France ranges anywhere from $40 to $100 and is determined by whether the bottle is of a mass produced variety or a vintage selection. Laurent Perrier and Moët & Chandon are the more affordable varieties and vintage Champagnes include Dom Pérignons and Krugs.

If you’re opting for a sparkling wine made outside of the Champagne of France you can expect to pay anywhere from $8 to $30 a bottle. The price difference depends on the vineyard, the bottling process, and taste. ?

There are also exclusive champagnes that are available for purchase that range from a few hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars. Vintage bottles of Pol Roger Winston Churchill can sell for $300 to $600 dollars and rare finds, including bottles salvaged from the bottom of the Baltic Ocean on a crashed 1907 ocean liner, may sell for upwards of $10,000.

3. Choose the bottle size.  Champagnes come in a wide variety of bottle sizes. Pay attention to the size of the bottle when making your selection. If you are choosing a bottle that is above 3 liters be prepared for a higher price tag because the glass bottles are far more difficult to make. You may also want to consider choosing smaller bottles in order to enjoy several different champagnes.

4. Select a variety based on sparkle, taste, and color.  There are three main differences in champagnes; sparkle, taste, and color. These differences make up the unique flavor of each champagne and are important to your selection process.

  • Sparkle The champagne’s sparkle is determined both by its nature and its temperature. If you choose a bottle that barely sparkles in your mouth it is a sign that it isn’t cold enough or it is of poor quality. A good rule of thumb is that the smaller the size of the bubbles the higher the quality. The amount of sparkle, also known as sparkling intensity, is really up to the individual and depends primarily on personal preference.
  • Taste The tastes of champagnes are incredibly varied and offer something for every individual preference. Brut is a popular flavor of champagne and boasts a dry and oaky taste. You may be interested in a sweeter variety that features hints of citrus or vanilla. It is important to pay attention to both the dryness and the flavor of the specific variety when choosing a bottle.
  • Color There are many different colors available ranging from amber to silver to pink. The most common color of champagne is a faint yellow color created by the skins of the grapes used.