How to Choose a Fine Bottle of Champagne

Champagne Buying Guide for Celebrations.

To celebrate life there is nothing better than choosing a good bottle of Champagne, preparing the moment to enjoy it with all the love, refilling the glass, raising it and toasting with the family and those special people who are part of your life.

The first thing to have in mind is that Champagne is different from sparkling wine. Champagne can only come from the Champagne region in France, which means, anything else that comes from a different region or a country it is not Champagne.

Understanding Champagne in 5 minutes or less by Jacky Blisson

The Different Types of Champagne

There is a wide range of Champagnes and part of that is the dosage in each bottle. The dosage refers to the amount of sugar added, in the form of a cane sugar liquor. Depending on the amount used per litre, the Champagne can be:

  • Brut nature: it has no added sugar.
  • Extra brut: has 0 to 6 grams of sugar per litre.
  • Brut: 0-12 grams of sugar per litre.
  • Extra dry: 12 to 17 grams of sugar per litre.
  • Sec: 17 to 32 grams of sugar per litre.
  • Demi-sec: 32 to 50 grams of sugar per litre.
  • Doux: 50 or more grams of sugar per litre.

The Meaning of the letters on Champagne

Each bottle comes with a tiny pair of letters on its label. Each combination refers to how the grades were obtained.

  • NM – Négociant-Manipulant: The wineries buy their grapes from different farmers and then make Champagne under their own signature.
  • RM – Récoltant-Manipulant: This Champagne is made by a firm that grows its own grapes. These are also known as grower Champagne.
  • CM – Coopérative-Manipulant: If your Champagne label has these signals, it means that a group of farmers mix their own grapes and make a Champagne under one or more brands.
  • RC – Récoltant-Coopérateur: This acronym is used when a farmer gives grapes to a CM to make a wine under his name. That is, they put the grapes and the brand, but they do not get involved in making the products.
  • SR – Sociéte des Récoltants: Here, farmers get together and share a cellar, but each one makes their own label with their own grapes.
  • ND – Negociant Distributeur: It is when the company sells a Champagne that it did not produce.
  • MA – Marque d ’Acheteur: The brand name belongs to a buyer, such as a restaurant or supermarket.

The Vintage Champagne

For climatic reasons, it is common for a Champagne to be produced with many different grapes, so they will usually have the letter NV, which means non-vintage. Vintage Champagne means that it’s taken from just one year’s harvest. It’s not something that Champagne houses do every year, either—it’s reserved for particularly good years.

In Conclusion

The key to choosing the best bottle of Champagne is paying attention to how it looks, rather than the labels if you are not very familiar with the reading techniques of Champagne labelings. To make it easier for you, a young Champagne will look lighter than an older one. The other thing to look out for is the size of the bubbles – the smaller they are the smoother and creamier you should find them in your glass.

Opening and Pouring Champagne

Chef Mark Dubois

Mark Dubois grew up in a tiny village in the South of France where fresh ingredients, traditional recipes, and fantastic french wines are present in every house and corner. Chef Mark is specialised in Mediterranean Gastronomies, but he is more passionate about baking. Chef Mark is currently working as a hosted Chef in different restaurants around Europe.