Champagne is pretty much synonymous with New Year’s Eve. The two go together like bread and butter, a perfect match. So as December 31 is rapidly approaching, the question remains: Do you have your bubbles ready?
Because picking the right bottle to reign in the new year can be a challenge, here’s your guide to all things bubbly.
The clock strikes 12, the bottles pop and alas, a new year has begun.
If you love bubbles as much as we do, you’re probably going to want the perfect bottle, the most sparkling start to a new year. Though there are a ton of options out there, we’re going to focus on Champagne, Prosecco and Cava for a festive fizz.
A classic. Possibly the one night that people are most willing to splurge for something special, Champagne pops all over the world at midnight.
When it comes to bubbles, Champagne is the crème de la crème, a symbol of quality and style. And because of such esteem, you’ll pay dearly for a bottle, so it’s best to know what you’re looking for.
First and foremost, Champagne is only Champagne if it comes from the region of Champagne, France. All Champagne is made with the traditional method, or Method Champenoise, and though it can range between Brut Nature (bone dry) and Doux (sweet), most are Brut (dry). Champagne can use three grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, which lead to the following styles:
- Standard (a blend)
- Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay)
- Blanc de Noirs (100% Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier)
- Rosé (usually a blend of blanc Champagne with a bit of red wine).
Without getting too in depth, let’s further break Champagne down into three levels:
- Non-vintage Champagne – The most affordable of Champagnes, non-vintage are exactly that, without a specific harvest year. They are released every year from a blend of grapes grown throughout various years and aged for a minimum of 15 months. These are known for consistency, a fruitier fizz with less yeast that exemplifies a house style. Expect to pay around $20-$50 USD
- Vintage Champagne – Only made in a year with an exceptional harvest, vintage Champagne comes from grapes from a specific year, which will be displayed on the bottle. These must age for a minimum of 36 months and will have a creamier, more yeasty style. Expect to pay around $50-$100 USD.
- Presige Cuvee Champagne – The most expensive bubbles out there, the highest quality of what Champagne has to offer. Think Dom Perignon, the epitome of indulgence. These are bubbles that have aged for a significant amount of time and will generally encompass everything we love about Champagne all at once: richness, fruitiness, creaminess and nuttiness. Expect to pay more than $100 USD.
And then there is Crémant, traditional method bubbles from France made outside of the Champagne region. There are eight regulated appellations, so tastes and styles vary greatly. However, they are all produced with strict regulations, just like Champagne, so they can be a great alternative.
Most similar to Champagne in style, but much more affordable, Cava is also an excellent option for celebrating a new year.
Cavas mainly use Macabeu, Parellada and Xarel-lo grapes, though Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Garnacha and Monstrell can also appear in the mix. They are also required to use the traditional method. But unlike Champagne, most producers have gone full advanced mechanization, ensuring high-quality bubbles at a fraction of the cost of Champagne.
If you’re going to pay $50 for a non-vintage Champagne just because, consider paying $30 for a great Cava.
Often known for being yummy and affordable, Italy’s Prosecco has taken the world by storm. If you’re simply looking to pop a good bottle at midnight, Prosecco could be your winner.
Made from the Glera grape, Prosecco is all about the here and now. They use the Charmat method, a.k.a. tank method, to preserve fruit and freshness, and they do not age the wines. Though most styles are Brut, Glera’s profile makes for a seemingly sweeter style. Think green apple, pear and honeydew melon.
Champagne, Cava or Prosecco, may you have the happiest and bubbliest of new years!
May 2018 be a year of savoring excellent wine and sparkling wine. Want to know more about how to preserve color, aroma and flavor to make that possible? Click below!
And for more about bubbles in general, check out “How to be a Whiz at Fizz.” Cheers!