A very common question I get asked by my friends and family who know that I am in the business of wine is ‘How do I know if the Champagne / sparkling wine I am buying is going to be good quality’.
A quick fire reply I usually say is that it will very much depend on who your are buying from and the budget you have and the reason for you buying the wine. Many outlets will sell fizz and the quality of what they sell will vary tremendously, within this large choice there will be some which will take great care in that what they sell they will know will delight the purchaser having at least tasted the wine themselves or have a closer relationship with the wine maker. Remember that there are 10,000’s of wine producers globally and 100,000’s of different labels of which some will be an amazing tasting experience and many will be just OK or below.
So what about a easy to follow guide that will help those of you with limited knowledge of Champagne and sparkling wines to make a good choice when it comes to buying that next bottle of bubbly.
- Know your sparkling wines: Along with Champagne you will have Prosecco, Trento, Franciacorta, Cava, Cremant, English Sparkling, Le Marche, Argentinian and much more. Each type will come from different countries and regions within that country offering different tasting experiences along with having different production processes such as traditional and charmant.
- Know your preferred style: Sparkling wines can be sweet to dry in flavours as well as brut, rosé and even red. Take a look at the bottle at least, identify the colour of the wine inside the bottle and also the style so you can get an idea the likely flavour it will offer you – easy to understand wine infographic here.
- Understand the levels: Most Champagne and sparkling wine producers will have a selection of labels that are designed from entry level up to their finer and most likely more expensive options. You will see words such as Brut, Reservé, Cru and Vintage so it is good to learn what these mean so you can pick the best option for your spend. Understanding types of Champagne and Sparkling Wines.
- Familiarise yourself with some safe labels: If you have some time to spend on wine (let’s face it, over our lifetime we will no doubt purchase 100’s if not 1,000’s of glass of wine / bottles) then take a note of sparkling wine styles and names that previously pleased you. There are some very fine Champagne and sparkling wine producers that you can usually rely on to offer great quality for money such as Dom Perignon Champagne and Villa Sandi Prosecco.
- Look out for awards: Some of the better Champagne and sparkling wines will have previously won awards for their wines which are usually decided by top wine professionals. Such wines will usually have badges on them (sticker) and be either Gold, Silver or Bronze – The World’s Finest Glass of Bubbly Awards is a great award sticker to look out for when buying your next bottle of bubbly.