Champagne, or sparkling wine, is one of wine’s great pleasures. Champagne has taken on an important part of many celebratory experiences- from mimosas in the morning before a wedding, christening a new ship, or firing off a bottle at a birthday dinner (we just celebrated my dad’s 60th with a wonderful bottle of Billecart-Salmon Brut). We truly believe that a part of any great memory are the tastes associated with it (think of the best meals and memories you’ve had and what you tasted- my dad often talks of having pizza in the hospital the night I was delivered). Delivery rooms aside, we think Champagne can heighten positive and celebratory moments exponentially! With that in mind here are 5 of our favorite bottles matched with 5 perfect events…
- Important Birthday Celebration: Birthdays are such an important part of life, they mark the years and important events that have happened during that year. For these our favorite to open is Piper-Heidsiek Brut ($39). It is a wonderful blend of mostly pinot noir grapes and it is loved by most people who enjoy champagne. Critically acclaimed for its balance, it is not cheap in a restaurant (over $100) but well worth it to celebrate a birthday milestone.
- Wedding Shower: Since this is an event with more people involved, and thus buying the required amount of bubbles is a bit more budget conscious, our favorite is the Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Reserve ($29). A unique blend of 20% chardonnay, 40% pinot noir, and 40% pinot meunier it has small refreshing bubbles and notes of pear and apple on the nose. A true crowd pleaser this will keep the raucous crowd pleasantly buzzed.
- Getting Engaged: This is a moment for two people to really cherish and celebrate. For momentous occasions such as these we think it is appropriate to open something unique, memorable, and a little bit pink and pricey. Our favorite is a bottle is Ruinart Brut Rose ($89). A balanced blend of 55% pinot noir and 45% chardonnay, the nose has hints of berries with slight tannin and some spices (cinnamon and clove). Ruinart has extreme attention to quality using hand sorting and careful slow pressing. Certainly not a cheap bottle, it is one worth investing to celebrate!
- Making a Major Purchase (hours, car, etc…): All of our champagnes listed here at Non-Vintage (NV), as usually these offer a better value than vintage bottles (as in they have a year listed on the label). However, as major purchases happen rarely we think that a vintage bottle is appropriate. One of our favorites, with value still being in mind, is the Veuve Clicquot Vintage Brut 2008 ($89). Delicate and fresh with small bubbles it has fresh citrus and balanced acid making it exceptionally easy to drink and cheers with.
- Wedding Party: Weddings tend to be long affairs with lots of personalities (from grandma to mothers-in-law, drunk uncles, and everyone in between). Since lots of bubbles are consumed by so many palates we love something not overly strong with balanced flavors. Having champagne at a wedding is certainly a big expense (and we always recommend switching to a more reasonable sparkling wine a little ways into the party). To begin the celebrating we recommend the Duval-Leroy Brut Reserve ($39) as fitting the bill perfectly. A lovely blend of pinot and chardonnay it has powerful flavors of chocolate and spices and pairs well with small appetizers and even cheese and will keep people preoccupied during the early stages of celebrating.
If you are in the mood for something non-French as well feel free to check out some of our other sparkling wine guides as well!
So don’t be afraid to pop some French bubbly at your next major event! And if you would like some free tailored advice please hit the ask a sommelier button at the top and we will get back to you ASAP!