Despite the cultural status of Champagne in the world of wine and cuisine, where it’s treated as a delicacy, you’ll likely find more available types of Champagne at your local wine shop than you might expect. Take many factors into consideration when purchasing Champagne, including price and flavor.
Choosing the Best Champagne: Buying Prestige Cuvees
A prestige cuvee is a type of Champagne declared by its winery to be one of their top-of-the-line bottles. Some prestige cuvees are vintage Champagnes, coming from only one year’s grape harvest, while others are blends, but still highly regarded. Vintages are generally more expensive.
If you have the money to spare on a prestige cuvee, or if you’re willing to set some money aside to save up for a special occasion, you’ll most likely be pleased with the purchase of a prestige cuvee. This price shouldn’t be underestimated, for any reason. Even less-esteemed prestige cuvees will cost anywhere from an average of $75 to $100 at many wine shops. Truly rare prestige cuvees, from wineries like Dom Perignon and Pierre Jouet, can cost anywhere from $300 to $450.
Affordable and Worthwhile Champagnes
The best Champagnes are generally those that are authentic and come from the Champagne-Ardenne region. A surprising amount of these wineries produce Champagne that isn’t particularly expensive–certainly nowhere near the $450 price range of a classic vintage of Dom Perignon.
Affordable Champagnes are as little as about $35 to $45 from smaller Champagne houses. Some of these include the Pol Roger Brut Reserve, the Ayala Brut Majeur and the Bollinger Special Cuvee. On the slightly more expensive end–ranging from $55 to $70–you can seek out Champagnes such as the Gosset Grande Reserve Brut, the Jean Milan Carte Blanche Brut and the Alfred Gratien Brut Clasique.
Other Important Considerations When Buying Champagne
The age of a Champagne is extremely important. Nearly all Champagnes are aged for a minimum of two years, and many are aged for three. The finest cuvees may be aged for as long as six to eight years. If you research a certain Champagne and find that it’s not aged for at least two years, it’s probably not worth buying.
Consider the reason for your purchase, specifically whether or not you’re planning to serve the champagne at an elegant dinner or a different sort of occasion. Pairing Champagne with cuisine can have excellent results, though it must be done properly.