The only true Champagne is sparkling wine from the Champagne region of northeastern France. It’s important to note that United States producers can legally call their sparkling wines “champagne” even though they are not produced in France. However, if they choose to do so, the word champagne must begin with a small “c” on the label, and the wine’s origin and production methods must be listed. There are many other types of French sparkling wines, but these are called “Cremant”, the most notable hailing from the Loire Valley.
The extremely high price-points on premium brands of Champagne like Dom Perignon, Cristal, and Taittinger have convinced many people that Champagne is not affordable, but there are less expensive options – in the high $20s to $40s range – from makers such as Mumm, Nicolas Feuillatte, and Veuve Cliquot that are quite unique and delicious.
Depending on the way the grapes are combined (i.e. percentage of Chardonnay used vs. Pinot Noir, etc), and also depending on the sweetness, champagne’s subtle flavors can vary from toasty, to lemony and tart, to floral and creamy. Because of its high levels of acidity and low levels of sugar, champagne complements a wide range of foods so it’s always a good choice to bring to a dinner party if you’re not sure what type of meal is being served.
Pairs well with: mild cheeses, pastas with cream sauce, seafood – especially shellfish, fried food and berries. Drier styles are best with cheeses and desserts, sweeter styles work well with saltier dishes.
|Louis Roederer Brut Champagne Premier NV||$43|
|Piper-Heidsieck Brut Champagne NV||$45|