Before your next cruise gain some insight into Champagne options in case you’re planning a celebration, or feel free to share your tips in the comments.
Dare one say that you can’t really taste the difference between champagne varieties until you get up into the serious money? To an extent this is true: middle of the road varieties (i.e. those that cost between £20 and £80) occupy a sort of grey area where the name on the label is as much part of the price as the quality of the drink in the bottle.
The upshot of this is that a person wanting to take a bottle to a dinner party can get a perfectly respectable set of bubbles for a lot less than he or she might imagine – ideal for entertaining in style without hurting the wallet too much!
Top Shelf Champagnes – Obviously no discussion of champagne varieties would be complete without mentioning the really serious contenders. Dom Perignon continues to supply world beating champagne at reasonably world beating prices – around £100 for a bottle of the latest vintage is the norm. The funky packaging and distinctive shield-shaped label help identify a Dom, too, so if you’re concerned with the image of the thing as well as the taste you can’t go wrong here.
Krug vintages command a similar price, and have a similar cachet – though perhaps without the packaging and bottle style of the Dom Perignon.
At a touch below these price points, Bollinger and Veuve Clicquot both have something to say for themselves. For a similar style to the Dom, but coming down to the middle end of the mid price bracket, you’ll also find a Laurent Perrier in a modern looking bottle.
Standard Champagnes – Standard champagne isn’t representative of any specific drop in quality – so much as a branching out of tastes. Mumm; Lanson; and Taittinger are all fine examples of a standard bottle – that is, something that tastes excellent, has the genuine cachet of real champagne, and delivers with style on the bottle front as well.
Mumm’s distinctive red stripe is particularly evocative – redolent of the Jeeves and Wooster era, when it was consumed by the bucket load in London’s hottest clubs. Moet and Piper Heidsieck both deliver for standard occasions too.
A standard occasion is essentially a normal, everyday sort of drinking moment – where a bottle of fizz is called for to mark a non-landmark event or birthday, for example, or where bubbles are simply the preferred drink of the evening. Standard bottles such as the ones listed here will make ideal birthday and festive gifts, often presented in high quality gift boxes.
Cases – It’s often the case that the best bargains for fizz are to be had when buying by the case. Cased champagne is more likely to represent some lesser known varieties – such as the Oeil de Perdrix, a rose wine that is produced in Switzerland. As such it isn’t allowed to give itself the genuine name – but its taste and appearance more than make up for that.
Named “eye of the partridge” for its very pale pink colour, this wine is light and creamy – and is normally sold in cases for less than £20 per bottle. It makes an ideal alternative to paler fizzy wines and champagnes at larger gatherings andcelebrations such as wedding receptions.
A Rose By Any Other Name – You can only call champagne by its name if it is made in the titular region; or by special dispensation, as in the case of a very few English varieties. The lack of that all-important word means little, these days. A sparkling wine such as the Oeil de Perdrix noted above, made in the right place with the right grapes and by the right people, will deliver all the lightness and enjoyment of a bottle that bears the regional indicator on it.
Hannah West is a wine commentator and critic. She writes a number of blogs for various trade sites, and contributes to supermarket tasting notes.
Author Bio: Emily Steves is a champagne commentator and critic. She writes a number of blogs for various trade sites, and contributes to supermarket tasting notes.