Best Champagne for New Years - 2022 Edition
What is the best Champagne for New Years?
Our mantra is that it's always a good time for bubbles. But let's face it, New Year's Eve is a really good time for bubbles! The fact is, Champagne goes with the year end celebration as surely as chocolates go with Valentine’s Day, or turkey with Thanksgiving.
But sparkling wine for NYE is more than just tradition. From the pop of the cork to the fizz of the pour, from the way the bubbles make perfect strings of beads in your glass to the way they dance across your palate, sparkling wines like Champagne are a life-affirming pleasure for all five senses and the perfect way to cheer out old and ring in the new.
Of course, choosing the right bottle of bubbly to kick off the new year is not without its pressures: How to pick the best Champagne for New Year's Eve?
With nearly 400 Champagnes to choose among from across our stores, there is a ton of variety spanning a spectrum of styles, sub-regions and price points. We have everything from voluptuous old school bottles (like Krug) to laser-focused Blanc de Blanc grower Champagnes (like Larmandier-Bernier) -- not to mention rosé Champagnes bursting with fruit. We cover every price from the most budget friendly non-vintage Champagne to the rarest, most collectible Champagnes for your cellar.
If that feels like an overwhelming amount of choice, this it he post for you! In this post we will break down everything you need to know about Champagne, including the best Champagne bottles to pop this New Year’s Eve; we will answer some of the most common questions about what Champagne is, how to properly open a bottle and more. With our help, you’re sure to have the perfect bottle to pair with the evening's plans.
No matter your preferences, we've got you, so get the ice bucket ready!
Happy New Year, we'll see you in 2023.
One final note before we begin:
With prices rising due to growing worldwide demand for Champagne, it may be tougher to pop a Champagne cork this year. But that's no reason to pass on drinking bubbles this year:
Thankfully, there have never been more non-Champagne sparkling wine options to choose from, including prosecco, cava, crémants, spumantes, frizzantes, sekts and pétillant naturels; from which we've highlighted a handful of our favorites to end.
This Article Contains
Let's talk Champagne
Glossary of common Champagne terms
Serving and enjoying champagne
Our picks for best Champagnes
A note about shopping our picks
Let's talk Champagne
Champagne is a deep, and complex topic, but here are a few answers to common questions about Champagne to get you celebration ready.
What is Champagne?
Champagne is a sparkling wine from the Champagne region of northern France that uses the traditional method of fermentation to achieve bubbles. It is most commonly made from a mixture of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, but the grape varieties in Champagne can vary.
How is Champagne made?
To make Champagne, a dry, high-acid wine (called the base wine) is combined with sugar and yeast before being bottled and sealed. A second fermentation takes place in the sealed bottle, and the resulting carbon dioxide dissolves within the wine and creates bubbles. This also adds additional alcohol to the wine and yeasty, bread-like flavors.
The winemaker then removes the remaining sediment of yeast from the bottle and tops the liquid with a mixture of additional wine and sugar. The bottle is then resealed ahead of sale.
There is so much more that goes into the making of Champagne. It's not possible to go into all of the details here, but we promise to tackle it in our guide to Champagne.
What makes Champagne different from other premium sparkling wines?
A question that we are often asked is, what is the difference between the sparkling wines we carry and champagne?
The short answer is that sparkling wine can only be called Champagne if it comes from the region of Champagne, France, located just outside of Paris. The sparkling wines from this region are made from specific grapes and must also adhere to very strict grape growing and winemaking guidelines established by the Comite Champagne - the region's official governing commission.
In summary, all Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne.
Glossary of Common Champagne Terms
After the wine is fermented and bottled, a little sweetness and yeast are added to the bottle before it is sealed. This starts a second fermentation in the bottle, which produces the carbonation. Before the Champagne is finished, the sediment left by the dead yeast is expelled, or disgorged, from the bottle.
Two bottles of nonvintage Champagne, if they are disgorged at different times, will taste like different wines. That’s why more producers are adding the disgorgement date to the back label. The information is especially helpful if the dominant vintage in the blend is also identified, so consumers can how long the wine aged before disgorgement. Sometimes this information is not on the label but is available by scanning a QR code.
Sugar added to champagne after disgorgement. The dosage is another crucial component of Champagne as it balances the naturally high acidity of the wine and plays an important role in the aging process. The level of dosage also determines the category of champagne (i.e., extra brut, brut, extra dry, demi-sec, and so on).
The amount of the dosage determines how dry the Champagne will be. Brut is the most common, indicating a wine that can range from 0 to 12 grams of residual sugar per liter, though nowadays most bruts are 6 to 10 grams as both consumer and winemaker preferences continue to trend in this direction.
Indicates a very dry Champagne containing no more than 6 grams of residual sugar per liter.
A champagne bottled without any dosage, though technically it can have a small amount of up to 3 grams of residual sugar per liter. Also called non-dosé, brut zéro, zéro dosage or brut intégral.
Too add to the challenge, this indicates a Champagne with a dosage level of between 12 and 20 grams of sugar per liter; which is much sweeter than the typical brut. Note that, demi-sec is even sweeter.
In the wider world of wine, cuvée generally refers to a blend of wines. In Champagne, it also has another, very specific meaning, referring to the finest portion of the first press.
Blanc de blancs
A champagne made solely from white grapes, which almost always means that it's 100% chardonnay. Other white grapes that can be used to make champagne, include pinot blanc, arbanne, or petit meslier, though these are very rare.
Blanc de noirs
A champagne made solely from red grapes. It can be 100% pinot noir, 100% pinot meunier, or a blend of the two varieties.
Serving and enjoying Champagne
What is best serving temperature for Champagne?
Sparkling wines, including Champagne, are best served well chilled between 43-50 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you happen to own a wine fridge or have a wine cellar at home, you are probably already well aware of this recommendation and have this. For most of us, however, here is some practical advice.
Need to chill your bottle down and don't have much time or an ice bucket?
Grab 1-2 squares of paper towel, get it wet, wrap it around your bottle, and place it in the freezer for 30 minutes and enjoy. It's a method that we have used countless times over the years, so though we hope you won't have to use it, know that it's here and a time-tested technique. Your welcome. :)
What is the best glassware for Champagne?
A wide range of glass shapes and sizes is used for the service of wine. Each is designed to emphasize a particular wine's characteristics and is based upon a remarkable amount of scholarship.
Most experts recommend that sparkling wines are best served in flute glasses. It's believed that the slender flute shape is meant to enhance the effect of the bubbles, allowing them to travel through a larger volume of wine before bursting at the top of glass, releasing the wine's aromas. It is for this reason that saucer-shaped glasses are considered sub-optimal, as the bubbles are not only more quickly lost but are dispersed more widely.
How do I (safely) open a bottle of Champagne?
There is considerable pressure in a bottle of sparkling wine, and even more so in a bottle of Champagne. Chilling to the correct temperature helps to reduce this, but even under optimal conditions, it is possible for the cork to jump out of the bottle unexpectedly and with appropriate force to, in most cases, spill some of the precious contents contained within and, worst case scenario, cause injury.
Here are some simple steps to take:
- Remove the foil and loosen the wire cage.
- The cork must be held securely in place from the moment the wire cage is loosened.
- Tilt the bottle at an angle of about 30 degrees, gripping the cork, and use the other hand to grip the base of the bottle.
- Turn the bottle, not the cork.
- Hold the cork steady and ease it slowly out of the bottle.
- The gas pressure should be released quietly, not an explosion and flying cork.
Or you could try something like this...cheers to you Monsieur Branson.
Our Picks for the Best Champagnes
If you've made it this far, your probably pretty thirsty and also a little annoyed that it is taken this long to get to our picks. In this section you'll find our top picks from our New York and San Francisco, including the best-of-the-best, best under $50, best splurge-worthy and best sparkling wines.
The wait is over, enjoy!
A note about shopping
This post features products from our New York and San Francisco shops. Each shop location has a dedicated website with separate shopping carts and checkouts. If you wish to purchase from more than one location, you will need to check out separately per location.
To get started, simply add a product to cart by clicking "Add to NY cart" (starting a cart in our New York shop) or "Add to SF cart" (starting a cart in our San Francisco shop). When ready, just click Checkout, and you will be directed the appropriate shop location's checkout to complete your purchase.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best of New York
Here are the 6 top picks from our New York store.
Best of San Francisco
Here are the 6 top picks from our San Francisco store.
Best Champagne Under $50
Being on a budget doesn't mean you aren't able to get an exceptional bottle of champagne. Here are our top picks from each of our stores.
Best Splurge-Worthy Champagne
A handful of splurge-worthy Champagne picks worth every dollar.
Best Sparkling Wines
Here are 6 sparkling wines that deserve your consideration.