Pick Champagne Like a Pro
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You can always find a reason to celebrate - a new job, a friendiversary, or even the end of a Monday. Celebration often calls for some bubbly, but that doesn't mean it has to call for all your money too!
My fiance is one of the founders of The Dallas Wine Club, so I asked him to collaborate with me and write a champagne post. If you're in Dallas and would like to be notified of gatherings and events, go here to subscribe. Even if you're not in Dallas, still subscribe, and you can get awesome wine reviews, helpful tips, and fun wine facts.
So, without further adieu, here's how to pick your champagne like a pro, to perfectly fit your price point and taste buds.
1) Allocate your budget. Let's pause right here. Good champagne is expensive. An easy way to pay less, without sacrificing flavor or quality, is to buy sparkling wine. The sweet spot for a good bottle of champagne is around $30-$50, whereas you can get a good bottle of sparkling wine for $20-$30. Once you pick your budget, don't stray from it. Your wallet will thank you.
2) Decide your desired level of sweetness. Pick on a scale from 1 to 5, 1 being the sweetest, and 5 being the most dry. The key below uses the same scale, and shows you which sparkling wine type to purchase (with their residual sugar as well!)
- Doux (Sweet) - 5.0+%
- Demi-Sec (half-dry) - 4.2%
- Sec (Dry) - 3.5%
- Extra Sec (Extra Dry) - 2.0%
- Brut (Dry-Dry) - 1.5%
3) Look for Vintage. You'll see this printed on the bottle, along with a year. This step is more fun than required. If you find a bottle in your price range with ‘Vintage’ and/or a specific year printed on the label, it’s definitely worth a purchase. This means that the winemaker considered the grapes from this Vintage (year) to be of extraordinary quality. Why not trust them and try it?
4) Check for the region. If you are sticking with Champagne, this is only from the Champagne region in France. Don't get me wrong, sparkling wine from Champagne must hold true to age old standards and quality, so it'll be great; but, if you're on a budget, or simply don't want to break the bank, you have other options. Take Napa valley for instance; Domaine Chandon is in Napa Valley and makes some seriously insane sparkling wines. They won't say Champagne on the label because they are from Napa; however, they're still excellent. Spend less on a bottle from Domaine Chandon than you would from their French owner's Father institution (Moet & Chandon) in France, and you'll be just as happy.
Looking for other well priced producers? Look for Treveri Cellars, Chateau Ste. Michelle NV, and Korbel Single Vintage.
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