Simple Tips on How to Select a Good Champagne

Announcing that we were going to try to cover more than our fair share of bubbles this month, I knew I would get the odd person or two who would complain that we did not cover Moet, Cristal, and the ever popular Veuve Clicquot.  Although we drink all of these brands from time to time, we made a conscious decision to review other champagnes and sparkling wines.  Our goal was to give folks a sense that they had choices far deeper than the brands that are most commonly known. Nonetheless, regardless of mass popularity, there are a few things to remember when looking for your choice champagne:

Understand the difference, between Brut, Extra Dry, Sec, and Doux.  Seeing these words on a bottle of sparkling denotes how dry the wine will be, with Brut being the most dry.

Like regular wines, Champagne too is managed by a controlling body that calls for full disclosure of where the grapes were grown that go into that bottle of sparkling you are enjoying. We’ve got a full list of denotations here, but we’ll start you off by saying if you encounter a bottle of Champagne that has the RM acronym listed on the bottle, you are in for a treat. The RM designation means that this particular Champagne maker also grows their own grapes.  There are only a few in existence, and it is well worth the try if you get a chance.

The amount of bubbles in your glass are usually a fitting testament to the quality of the sparkling you are about to have.  The bubbles will be plenty in number and continue to rise, or as I like to say, dance in your glass for some time. You can almost always be certain that a glass of champagne or sparkling wine that lacks the ‘dancing bubbles’, will fall short on the quality stick.

Most importantly, don’t be skewed by the price. There are more artisan champagnes, from smaller growers that will surprise you in how they surpass a Moet, for example, in terms of quality.  These ‘not so well known brands’ are also often lower in price.  It is essential to experiment with your champagne, as you do your wines.

Header image courtesy of: Flickr, The Mister Sam