Celebrate Right and Pop a Bottle Of The Best Champagnes
Krug Grande Cuvee Champagne
Moet & Chandon Imperial Champagne
Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne
Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut Champagne
Champagne is the undisputed king of the sparkling wines. Vintners in Champagne, France have been perfecting the art of bottle fermentation for hundreds of years and though similarly styled wines are made all over the world, there isn't any sparkling wine that tops a really good Champagne.
France has stringent regulations about what kind of grapes can be grown in what regions. In Champagne, there are three types of grapes that can be grown, Chardonnay, a white wine grape, and Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, which are both red wine grapes. Blanc de Blanc Champagnes are always made from Chardonnay, while Blanc de Noirs are usually made from a majority of Pinot Noir that can be blended with the other two types of grapes.
Once the grapes have been pressed and the wine fermented, it is bottled with some of the yeast. The yeast finishes turning sugar into alcohol while sealed in the bottle, releasing carbon dioxide as a byproduct. Since there's nowhere for the carbon dioxide to escape to from a sealed bottle, over time, the wine becomes carbonated.
You'll notice the terms dry, extra-dry, or brut appear on each bottle of Champagne. These terms describe the amount of residual sugar in wine, with dry having the most sugar and brut the least. Occasionally, Champagnes may also be labeled extra brut and brut nature, which are drier than brut. Champagnes also have a year or the letters NV, printed on the bottle. NV stands for Non-Vintage, which means that the wine is blended from grapes harvested over a number of different years. While many NV Champagnes are very well made, NV Champagnes are not considered to be the highest quality. This means you can buy them for less than you'd spend on a vintage wine. If you're set on getting the best Champagne out there, make sure you buy a wine from a year when the harvest was excellent. 2004 was the best recent vintage in France. We've compiled the best champagnes in 2022.
Krug Grande Cuvee Champagne
Moet & Chandon Imperial Champagne
Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne
Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut Champagne
Comparing the Best Champagnes for 2022
Krug Grande Cuvee Champagne - Best Champagne Overall
Krug Grande Cuvee is widely regarded as one of the best Champagnes in the world. This non-vintage wine is blended from 120 crus taken from 15 years of harvests. It takes around 20 years to craft each wine, which is carefully blended so that each year's release tastes just like the year before. This makes Krug Grande Cuvee one of the most reliable Champagnes on the market. Critics consistently give this Champagne a rating of over 95 points, for its complexity and excellent balance. It has a sweet nose, with aromas of dried fruit, flowers, and gingerbread, and a rich, nutty flavor with a long finish.
Taittinger Champagne - Runner Up
The Champagne of choice at Hollywood parties, Taittinger Brut La Francaise is an excellent Champagne that won't burn a hole in your bank account. This non-vintage wine is blended from 40 percent Chardonnay and 60 percent Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, taken from vintages dating back 35 years. This makes it an incredibly reliable Champagne that will taste the same from year to year. It's a creamy wine, with a fruit-forward nose and a touch of fruit and honey on the palate. It has a fine bubble and a crisp mouthfeel. Though it's already been aged for at least three years before release, it can benefit from a few more years in the wine cellar.
Moet & Chandon Imperial Champagne - Honorable Mention
Blended from no less than 100 different wines, Moet & Chandon Imperial is one of the most consistent Champagnes there are. The vintners have been perfecting their formula and process since 1869, and have created a complex wine that shows off all three of the grapes grown in the Champagne region of France; Pinot Noir, Pino Meunier, and Chardonnay. This Champagne has a lot of bright fruit, a fine bubble, and a crisp finish that makes it very easy to drink.
Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne - Consider
With a creamy texture and plenty of perfect, tiny bubbles, Nicolas Feuillatte Brut is one of the best cheap Champagnes you can buy. Each batch is aged for at least two years prior to release and can be aged for up to another five at home. There's a lot of perfume to the nose of this wine, as well as honeysuckle, pear, and floral notes. The bouquet also has plenty of fruit, and the finish is clean and dry. Nicolas Feuillatte has won numerous awards for this wine, and frequently receives ratings of 90 points and above by wine critics.
Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut Champagne - Best Champagne for Mimosas
A non-vintage wine, Veuve Clicquot is a classical, dry Champagne that brings a bit of bitterness to the sweet mimosa. It has notes of grapefruit, which pairs well with orange juice, and plenty of fine bubbles that will keep your mimosa carbonated while you enjoy brunch. This wine is a blend of all three Champagne grapes and crafted from up to 40 percent reserve wines, allowing it a great deal of consistency from year to year. As it ages, Veuve Clicquot will develop notes of brioche and vanilla so if you like the sharp tang of a crisp Champagne in your mimosa, you'll want to enjoy this wine while it's still young.
Best Champagnes Buyer's Guide
Finding the best ‘Champagne’ out there, amidst all those high-end brands, hefty price tags, and glitzy bottlings can be intimidating. It may put you in a bit of blur and panic. You might just stand there wondering where to begin, especially if you’re unaware of all those geeky details about this sparkling wine. There’s no doubt about it; the world of Champagne is meticulous. That’s also exactly why Sommeliers all over the world are so valued. On top of it, unlike Prosecco, a bottle of champagne is a bit pricey. And before long, in your pursuit for that bubbly celebration, you grab the prettiest bottling, march on, and hope for its taste to aid your grandeur. And that’s where we come in, we’re here to prevent you from getting into this muddle or going for a panic buy. So, we’ve put together this buying guide, to help you choose the best champagne out there. For now, we’ll abstain from going all nerdy about Champagne. We’ll just target the tips and tricks to avoid Champagne buying mishaps and help you get the best palate out of your buck!
Where Does Champagne Come From?
You might be wondering why this piece of information is important for the buying guide. You might have also been curious at some point about why we put the word ‘Champagne’ in quotation marks up there. Relax, we’ll explain.
Everybody knows that Champagne and celebrations go hand-in-hand. It’s the world-renowned beverage for toasting and undoubtedly adds to the jollification and delicacy of your festivities by tenfold. However, Champagne, with the capital 'C' can only come from the Champagne region in France. And champagne with a lowercase ‘c’, well that’s your moderately-priced or sometimes even bog-standard sparkling wine if not chosen carefully.
That’s why, in order to choose the just-as-great tasting bubbly as it looks, you may want to look for the word ‘Methode Traditionelle’ on the wine label. As opposed to Prosecco, Champagne is made using the traditional method where the second fermentation is done in individual bottles – precisely the reason behind Champagne being more expensive than other sparkling wines, besides its opulent branding.
How Does A Champagne Taste?
The splendid wines from the Champagne region are classified on the basis of taste or styles. This is primarily done in two ways; either on the basis of sweetness or the grapes they are made from. The grapes that are normally used to produce Champagne are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay, and black grapes.
However, just before the cork goes into the bottle and right after the dead yeast is removed from the neck of the bottle, a small amount of still wine is added to the bottle. This small dosage contains the sugar content that determines the taste of your Champagne.
When it comes to sweetness, Champagne is seamlessly classified with the help of the following terms:
Before Extra Brut, there's also a Bone Dry Brut, both of which offer very little amounts of sugar content, lesser than Brut. Although Champagne is originally known for its sweet taste, dry styles with less content of sugars have now become more fashionable to drink.
Over 90 percent of all French Champagne is Brut. It means that the still wine dosage added to the bottle contains very little amount of sugar. Brut Champagne packs a very subtly sweet taste and receives major attention for its quality, character, and taste.
In this range, you’ll find the Champagnes with an off-dry to medium-dry taste. An extra sec wine would have 12-17 grams per liter of residual sugar.
The Champagnes with a ‘sec’ wine label have 17-32 grams per liter of residual sugar. These are great for your palate if you have a sweet tooth but you don't want to go overboard.
A demi-sec Champagne contains 33 – 50 grams per liter of residual sugar. When it comes to taste, these bottles of champagne are known for their medium-sweet relish.
The Champagne Doux – the term used to denote the very sweetest of Champagnes. This bottle of wine will contain at least 50 grams of residual sugar per liter of wine. Although these are the sweetest and currently imbibed-on a lot less than their counterparts, they’re still a great addition to have. Plus, you can always add an elixir of some Doux Champagne in your recipes and cocktails!
What Are Vintages and Non-Vintages?
The gauge of Vintage vs. Non-Vintage in the world of Champagne is a correct depiction of its meticulosity.
Why is this information important? That’s because we don’t want you wondering and standing confused in the midst of your purchase, confused by pretty labels with ‘Vintage’ or ‘NV’ (Non-Vintage) tags on them.
A Vintage Champagne is a wine that’s made from all the grapes harvested within a single year. On the contrary, a Non-Vintage Champagne is made up of grapes harvested in different years.
For some reason, wine enthusiasts love to imbibe and enjoy the lusciousness of the Champagne that was produced from the harvest of a single year. The existence of Vintages primarily suggests that grapes from a specific year were so premium that there wasn’t any need to couple them with a harvest of another year to produce an outstanding wine.
Not all Champagne winemakers produce Vintages, and even the ones who do, don't do so every year. The occurrence only happens when there's an extra-ordinary harvest.
What Things Should You Consider Before Buying A Champagne Bottle?
Since you now have a firm grip on beginner standpoints, there are a few more things you should consider before buying a Champagne bottle. So, before you speed off to purchase champagne and do the grocery shopping of your next celebration, remember to consider these factors first:
As explained above, there’s a whole spectrum of sweetness when it comes to Champagne. You just have to find the spot that properly excites your taste buds. Here’s how the spectrum proceeds from least sugar to most sugar added: Bone Dry, Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Sec, Sec, Demi-Sec, Doux
If you’ve got ample time, a good idea would be to search for a specific Champagne online and figure out its tasting notes. These tasting notes are basically notes written by winemakers or people who have tasted a specific wine. This practice may help you guide your taste buds towards or away from Champagnes that you may like or dislike.
Your average glass of Champagne has a 10-12 percent alcohol percentage. If, however, you're looking for an alcohol-free alternative, there are a few brands that produce these as well! For instance, Vinada Sparkling Rose is a sweet sparkling wine and it’s completely alcohol-free!
The standard size of a Champagne bottle is 750ml. If you’ll be hosting a couple of guests, you may go for the Magnum size as well which is 1500ml. And if the plan is to go Dutch during a feast, the miniature 200ml sized bottles will come in handy.
If you want to enjoy a Champagne made solely from a single year’s supreme harvest, look for the ‘Vintage’ text on your wine’s label. Otherwise, a non-Vintage always tastes just as good!
Most sparkling wines including Champagne contain sulfites – a substance that can cause an allergic reaction to the vulnerable ones. Therefore, do check these beforehand, just in case.
There are certain certifications set by the French Ministry of Agriculture to ensure the quality and standards for wine, cheese, and other food products. For starters, an AOC certification should be your go call to trust a specific Champagne producer. AOC is short for Appellation d’Origine Controlee and refers to standards set for quality winemaking by French Government.
Best Champagne FAQ
Q: What is the difference between Prosecco and Champagne?
A: Prosecco is made using the Charmat Method, aka, metodo Italiano. On the other hand, its French counterpart is made using the Traditional Method. Moreover, Prosecco comes from the Veneto region of Italy and Champagne comes from the Champagne region in France. Those are the key differences between the two.
Q: Why is Champagne so expensive?
Champagne is the most expensive sparkling wine and that’s precisely because of how it’s made, the Traditional Method. In this method, the second fermentation goes about in individual bottles instead of collectively in a steel tank (which is the way to go for Prosecco). That’s exactly why Champagne is more expensive than the rest of its bubbly counterparts.
Q: What is the best food to pair with Champagne?
You can spin your creative, hungry juices and always make a few Champagne-centered recipes. Cocktails, cakes, pancakes, and more! Moreover, you can always pair your glass of Champagne with fried chicken, steaks, sushi, citrus fruits, oysters, cookies, and chips, etc.
Q: How long can you preserve your Champagne bottle once it’s opened?
Once your bottle of Champagne is opened, you can keep it in your fridge for 2-3 days with the help of preservers and wine stoppers. Anything later than this and your wine’s taste and aromas may start acting up.