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Champagne buying guide

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Introduction to Champagne

Champagne is drink of celebrations, and because it varies in price, taste, and appearance, it's important to know what you're buying. First, a sparkling wine can only be labeled 'champagne' if it originates from the champagne region in France.

There are many other sparkling wines from around the world, including some excellent English sparkling wines. Price Inspector can help you pick the perfect champagne, whether it's for a wedding, New Year's celebration, anniversary, or just for fun.

Tips for choosing the right champagne

  • Which variety of champagne should you buy? If you are serving one variety at a party, brut (dry) champagne is a good choice for a group. This tends to be a full-bodied champagne that isn't too heavy. Always be sure to try the champagne before buying a large quantity for a celebration. If you are buying for a small group, you can experiment with the different types of champagne, from dry to sweet.
  • How do you know how much to buy for a party? You should provide at least one, possibly two, glasses per guest. This depends on whether you are just offering champagne for a toast or if you're offering throughout the event. A standard size bottle contains about six glasses, which means you would allow about a half bottle per person, just to make sure you have enough.
  • How much will you have to spend? As with all purchases, this will depend on your budget and your personal taste. Generally, if you are purchasing good quality, non-vintage variety of champagne, it could cost between £15 and £25 per bottle. If you are purchasing a vintage champagne, the price will increase considerably, and it depends on the particular vintage and brand.
  • Vintage years are generally more expensive because they represent a particularly good year, while the less-expensive champagnes are a mixture of wines from various years. Vintage champagnes, especially from the best vintage years, are more rare, making them more expensive. However, there are different bottle sizes available, such as purchasing a half bottle for a special taste of a vintage wine. Champagne is available in different sizes, including half bottles, magnums, or Mathusalem. 'NV' on a label means it is non-vintage, but it can still be a delicious wine.
  • Always shop around to find the best deal for your champagne purchase. For example, many merchants offer a case discount or a free bottle when you purchase a case.

Types of champagne: Blanc de Blanc, Blanc de Noir, and Rosé

  • Blanc de blanc is "white from white", and it is a white champagne from the Chardonnay white grape. They make an excellent apértif or first course pairing, offering a light, dry taste.
  • Blanc de noir is a white champagne, but it is made from black grape varieties: Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Blanc de noir champagnes are fuller bodied, deep yellow-gold. They work best with full-flavored foods, such as meats and cheese.
  • Rosé (pink) champagnes are produced by either adding Pinot Noir to the base wine or pressing the grape skins prior to fermentation.

Champagnes are also classified by their level of added sugar: brut, dry, extra dry, cuvee, sec, doux. Brut champagne is the driest, and it is generally considered 'traditional' champagne. However, the sweeter varieties offer a good alternative for different tastes or food pairings.

Brands of Champagne

Excellent brands to consider when purchasing champagne include Deutz (Grande Marque), Bollinger, Cristal, Dom Perignon, Mercier, Moet et Chandon, Mumm, Perrier Jouet and Veuve Cliquot.

Buying Guide to Champagne
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