Your wedding is one of the most exciting events of your life. From the outfits to the food and drinks, you want everything to go perfectly. Of course, you’ll need something to toast your new milestone. A celebration requires the perfect bubbly. But how do you choose the best champagne if you are not an aficionado? Read on and you’ll be shopping like a pro in no time.
Know your sparkling wines
The first thing you need to know is that not all sparkling wines are Champagne. You can also have generic fizzy wines, prosecco and cava. Champagne must be made in Champagne, France with chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes. In keeping with tradition, it must be fermented in the bottle. Champagne has the finest bubbles and is not as sweet as cava and prosecco. It is the most expensive option due to the price of the grapes.
Cava is from Spain. It is also fermented in the bottle, but the winemakers use grapes that are less expensive. The bubbles are larger than those in Champagne but smaller than those in prosecco. Cava is sweeter than Champagne.
Prosecco comes from Italy and is fermented in tanks before it is bottled. Prosecco tends to be sweeter than cava and has the coarsest bubbles.
Sparkling wine is a generic name for fizzy wines made using different techniques. They can come from any part of the world. If it’s the top shelf stuff you want, that’s champagne.
Know what’s on the menu
You’ll want to pair your Champagne with the dishes you’re serving. Sweeter wines pair well with dessert while those that are drier and more acidic are perfect for salads.
The label on the bottle will tell you how sweet your bubbly is. If it says Doux, that’s perfect for dessert. Demi-Sec, Sec and Extra Sec are less sweet but can still be paired with desserts. However. They can also work well with some spicy foods. Brut and Extra Brut Champagnes are the driest. They can be paired with a wide variety of foods. You can also just drink it on its own.
Know the ages, styles and producers.
There are vintage and non-vintage Champagnes. If you want to impress your relatives you may want the former. They have been aged for at least 36 months. Expect them to be creamy and yeasty. Non-vintage Champagnes are aged for at least 15 months. They are fruitier and less yeasty.
Champagne styles can be either Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs and Rosé. The colors depend on how the three grape varieties mentioned earlier are used. Blanc de Blancs are made from 100% white grapes while Blanc de Noirs are made from 100% black grapes. Rosé can be made by adding little a red Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier wine to blanc. These wines are made specifically for adding fruity flavors to Champagne.
The label will also tell you where the champagne was produced. There are maisons (major producers like Moët, Veuve Clicquot, Perrier), cooperatives (mid-sized producers) and Vignerons (families or individuals). These are further broken down but if you’re now starting out with Champagne you probably don’t want to know all that. If you’re curious, you can check out this article from Wine Folly.
Choosing a new wine can be intimidating under the best circumstances. Choosing for your wedding is an even bigger deal. However, you can impress your friends and relatives by doing just a little research ahead of time.