The Bubbles

When it comes to Champagne bigger isn’t better. One study reveals smaller bubbles means better Champagne because it releases a stronger intensity of flavor and aroma. Bigger bubbles, on the other hand, could indicate that the wine was produced poorly and its notes won’t be as prominent or lasting. California-based restaurateur Antonio Cagnolo agrees. He says,

“One easy way to tell a fine Champagne is by looking at the size of the bubbles, the tinier the bubbles, the finer the champagne.”

The House

“As a consumer you can select between the big houses, such as Tattinger, Perrier-Jouët, or Moët & Chandon that purchase most, if not all, their grapes and run major international businesses,” explains wine educator Jim Laughren. “There are also small farmers and producers who use only grapes from their own family-owned vineyards, operate on a much smaller scale, and generally charge less than the heavyweight houses. These ‘grower’ Champagnes can be identified by a very small ‘RM’ somewhere on the front label.” If you really want to wow your guests, consider skipping on the more notable brands and instead, explore other lesser-known houses that produce quality wine that meets your taste preference.

Save or Splurge?

High quality Champagne, like Dom Pérignon, Cristal, or Armand de Brignac comes with a glaring price tag, but getting more bang for your buck doesn’t have to necessarily mean going broke. “If you want great Champagne at a great price, look for ones labeled ‘NV’ or non-vintage,” suggests sommelier Maximillian Kast.

“This really means they come from multiple vintages and represent the ‘house style,’ trying to create a consistent wine year in and out.” It’s also more affordable than vintage Champagne, which means the wine was made from the grapes produced from a single harvest of a specific year.

Make Friends

Champagne is meant to be savored slowly for full enjoyment. To discover one that meets your needs completely, visit a wine shop and become friendly with the owner. “A fine staff is there to offer personal service and will get to know your likes and preferences,” says Beth von Benz wine curator at Whiskey & Wine Off 69. “The better they know you, the better their recommendations will be.”



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