Tasting Stars: How To Choose Champagne

I enjoy writing feature articles for our local HOME Living Indoor Outdoor Magazine and Glo Magazine for Women. I love the wide range of topics I’m assigned and have a tendency to over research because I’m a nerd at heart. My rough drafts start out at around 700-800 words and have to be cut to 500 for the final edit so of course I have lots of goodies that don’t make the final cut.
What to do with these goodies? Welcome to Behind the Article which I plan on making a monthly feature here at Dancing In My Kitchen. Basically, you get the gist of the article I wrote but with the fun tidbits, links I couldn’t use, along with a wee bit of snark and commentary.
Are you ready to learn fun stuff about champagne? Are you ready to be obnoxious regale your friends and family with nerdy goodness on New Year’s Eve? I thought so! Come closer my nerdy friends…
Technically, champagne is wine with bubbles. The finest champagnes and sparkling wines are prized for their bubbles and traditionally, finer bubbles indicate a good champagne. A ring of bubbles on the surface of fine champagne is referred to as collier de perles or “pearl necklace.” Isn’t this a wonderful French phrase and description? Click here to learn how to pronounce it.
When 17th century monk Dom Perignon discovered champagne he called out to his fellow monks to ‘come quickly, I am tasting the stars!’ I think this is a lovely bit of history, no wonder we choose champagne to mark life’s special events! Need more famous quotes about champagne from people like Charles Dickens,Oscar Wilde and other literary superstars? Of course you do! Glass of Bubbly has them all. Click here
How the bubbles get there and where the wine originates is what sets champagne apart. In France only champagne from the Champagne district in northeastern France is allowed to carry the name champagne. Most winemakers outside of France play along and here in the States U.S. producers call it sparkling wine. In Italy it’s called Proscecco, Cava in Spain, and Sekt in Germany.
Body is how heavy the champagne feels in your mouth. Each champagne house has it’s own house style. A winemaker determines the style by adjusting the proportion of white wine (Chardonnay) to red wine grapes (Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier) in the final blend.
Light body champagnes would typically have a high proportion of Chardonnay. Some light bodied brands to try would be Perrier-Jouet, Taittinger and Pommery. Bollinger, Krug and Louis Roederer are examples of full-bodied champagnes. Mumm, Moet and Chandon and Charles Heidsieck fall into the medium range. Blanc des Blancs means one hundred percent Chardonnay grapes are used and Blanc Noir indicates a mix of white and red.
Are you still with me? Are you anxious to buy your own bottle of stars? Just a couple more hundred words. Promise. My editor will be so proud!
Look for the words that indicate sweetness on the label. Extra Brut is “extra” dry and least sweet, Brut is dry and the most common one we see here in the States. Extra Dry is confusing in that it’s not as dry as Brut. Yeah I know, I found myself a little lost on the terminology too. Sec/Demi Sec is fairly sweet with Doux is the sweetest. Whew! Just write it down so you’ll remember.
The champagne most of us encounter is NV or nonvintage which generally costs between fifteen and forty-five dollars. It’s NV because the champagne is blended from grapes harvested over several vintages. Vintage champagne or vintage sparkling wine will display a year on the label which indicates grapes grown and harvested that year. Entry level vintage champagne will cost around thirty-five to sixty-five dollars. Try 2000 Ployez Jacquemart Extra Brut. Your friends will thank you.
Prestige vintage champagnes include the well known names we’ve all heard of such as Moet and Chandon’s Dom Perignon (yes, there he is again, the little star taster:) and Roederer’s Cristal which cost seventy-five to one hundred dollars and above. Your friends will really, really thank you.
The world of champagne is vast and one of the best places to get advice and recommendations is from your local wine merchant. If you’re a little more experienced and don’t require personalized service, Costco also carries a terrific variety, range and price point of fine sparkling wines and champagnes. We’ve only had Costco in our area for a couple of years (hey I live in the Midwest, don’t judge me) and I have to say, I was blown away by the selection of wine and champagne at reasonable prices.
There are myths surrounding champagne…who knew? Go to First We Feast to learn if champagne really makes you more drunk and gives you a worse hangover than other wines. Seriously dude and dudette you need this info.This site is an added bonus because you’ll be gifted with even more myths and nerdy facts to make your friends, families and dogs or cats eyes glaze over.
As if serving them champagne isn’t enough…
Earl, my fun-loving family and I wish you all a Happy New Year! Let’s pop the cork, taste the stars and let the merriment of a healthy, happy 2016 begin. *clink*
Nancy and Earl
Do you have a favorite champagne? Any fascinating facts you’d like to add? Please share in the comments.






2 thoughts on “Tasting Stars: How To Choose Champagne

  1. Natalie says:

    I love all this info! So good to know!
    No longer will I wander aimlessly
    In the liquor store! I used to pick a bottle
    Of Champagne based on price and how
    Attractive the bottle appeared. But no longer!!
    Now I know about body and bubbles and Blanc
    And Noir! Excited for my next Champagne purchase
    Now that I am educated! Thanks and Cheers!


    • I’m so happy you enjoyed the post and learned not to buy by the pretty label only. My nerdiness paid off and yours too! It’s the label names that get me, give me a clever name on a bottle of wine and I have to try it. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!


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