Where to Buy Good Champagne: A Guide for Beginners
Champagne is a sparkling wine that comes from the Champagne region of France. It is one of the most prestigious and expensive wines in the world, and it is often associated with celebrations and special occasions. But how do you know where to buy good champagne? And what are the factors that make a champagne good or bad?
In this article, we will give you some tips and advice on how to choose and buy good champagne, whether you are looking for a bottle to enjoy at home, or a gift for someone special.
What Makes a Good Champagne?
Before you start shopping for champagne, you need to know what makes a good champagne. There are many factors that affect the quality and taste of champagne, such as the grapes, the production method, the aging time, and the dosage (the amount of sugar added after the second fermentation).
Here are some of the main characteristics that define a good champagne:
- The grapes: Champagne is made from three main grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Each grape contributes different flavors and aromas to the wine. Chardonnay adds freshness, elegance, and floral notes; Pinot Noir adds body, structure, and red fruit notes; Pinot Meunier adds fruitiness, roundness, and spice notes. Some champagnes are made from only one grape variety (called blanc de blancs or blanc de noirs), while others are made from a blend of two or three grapes (called non-vintage or vintage).
- The production method: Champagne is made using the traditional method (also called the mÃ©thode champenoise), which involves a second fermentation in the bottle. This process creates the bubbles and the complexity of the wine. The quality of the production method depends on factors such as the cleanliness of the equipment, the temperature and pressure control, and the skill of the winemaker.
- The aging time: After the second fermentation, the champagne is aged on its lees (the dead yeast cells) for a minimum of 15 months for non-vintage champagnes, and 36 months for vintage champagnes. The longer the aging time, the more complex and rich the champagne becomes. The aging time also affects the color and clarity of the wine.
- The dosage: After the aging time, the champagne is disgorged (the lees are removed) and topped up with a mixture of wine and sugar (called the dosage). The dosage determines the sweetness level of the champagne, which can range from brut nature (no sugar added) to doux (very sweet). The dosage also affects the balance and harmony of the wine.
Where to Buy Good Champagne?
Now that you know what makes a good champagne, you need to know where to buy it. There are many places where you can buy champagne, such as online shops, wine stores, supermarkets, or directly from the producers. However, not all places offer the same quality and service.
Here are some tips on how to find and buy good champagne:
- Do your research: Before you buy champagne, you should do some research on the different brands, styles, and prices of champagne. You can use online resources such as websites, blogs, reviews, or ratings to learn more about champagne. You can also ask for recommendations from friends or experts who know about champagne.
- Check the label: When you buy champagne, you should always check the label carefully. The label contains important information such as the name of the producer, the region of origin, the grape varieties, the vintage (if any), the sweetness level, and the alcohol content. You should also look for signs of quality such as “Champagne” (which means that it comes from the Champagne region), “Grand Cru” or “Premier Cru” (which means that it comes from high-quality vineyards), or “RM” (which means that it is made by a grower-producer).
- Choose a reputable seller: When you buy champagne online or in a store, you should choose a reputable seller who offers good service and guarantees. You should look for sellers who have a wide selection of champagnes, who store them properly in cool and dark