Do you have a special occasion coming up that you don't want to celebrate with beer and champagne? Would you like to treat yourself to a special evening with the right alcohol? Or are you looking for a fine wine to give to your loved ones? Then champagne might be just the thing for you!
In our champagne test 2022 we have compiled detailed background information on the subject of champagne. You will find answers to frequently asked questions and we will introduce you to different types of champagne. We also explain the criteria that you should pay attention to when buying champagne.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Summary
- 3 The best Champagne: Our Picks
- 4 Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying champagne
- 5 Decision: What types of champagne are there and which one is right for you?
- 6 Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate champagnes
- Champagne allows you to taste a piece of the rich and beautiful, as champagne is a high quality and expensive spirit.
- There are basically six different types of champagne, with Brut and Demi Sec being the most common.
- Brut champagnes are best if you like dry champagne, as it tastes a bit tart. However, if you prefer a sweeter version, you should drink Demi Sec.
The best Champagne: Our Picks
Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying champagne
Why buy champagne and not sparkling wine?
The grape varieties also make the difference. While only three different varieties can be used for the noble drink, all grapes can be used for sparkling wine.
Both drinks get their sparkle from the second fermentation of the base wine, but with champagne the second fermentation takes place in the bottle, while with sparkling wine fermentation in large tanks is common. Maturation also makes the difference. Sparkling wine is stored for at least six months, while champagne is required to mature for at least 15 months.
Essentially, there are the following differences:
- strictly defined cultivation area
- Growing regulations such as planting density
- Yield restriction
- compulsory hand harvesting
- gentle, immediate pressing
- Bottle fermentation
- Minimum storage time on the yeast
- Prohibition of transvasation (mixture of bottle and tank fermentation)
Where can you buy cheap champagne?
Here, too, the same rules apply as for expensive champagne, i.e. only three grape varieties are allowed, second fermentation in the bottle and a maturing period of at least 15 months. The difference is at most in the use of the grapes. For cheaper champagne, Pinot Meunier grapes are often used.
What is the average price of champagne?
Champagne is available from as little as 10 euros in discount stores. However, the sky's the limit. It depends on the manufacturer, but also of course on the size of the bottle. The more content, the more expensive. You also have to consider the blends and the storage times.
Long storage also increases the price. If, in addition, more of the Pinot Noir grapes are used, you pay more than if you use the Pinot Meunier grape. This is also due to the fact that Pinot Noir is called the "king of wines". Here, trust the manufacturer's instructions on the bottle.
Is more expensive champagne better than cheaper?
The rich often buy expensive champagne for prestige. But some tests by Stiftung Warentest have also found that champagne from discounters is of good quality.
In the end, it is the taste that counts, and that is determined by the different blends of grape varieties and the dosage. And if you just want to try champagne, a cheap one is also suitable.
The most expensive champagne bottle is worth a whopping 1.4 million euros, but that is largely due to the bottle itself, which is adorned with a 19-carat diamond.
Decision: What types of champagne are there and which one is right for you?
What types of champagne are there?
Sparkling, expensive and exclusive - that's how you could describe champagne. It is known as the drink of the rich and beautiful, which is probably largely due to the prices for this noble spirit.
It is mainly produced from three types of grape:
- Pinot Noir
- Pinot Meunier and
Another feature that makes Champagne so exclusive is the fact that it can only be harvested by hand in Champagne.
Depending on your preferences, the choice of the right champagne also depends.
- Are you someone who prefers sweet wines?
- Or maybe dry after all?
- Do you want to spend a lot of money or not?
Here, champagne offers a great variety, because different producers mix the three grapes in different proportions. This so-called "dosage" gives the champagne its own character, which varies from producer to producer.
Dosage" means the addition of sweet wine or a sugar solution. (You can find out more about the production process in the section How is champagne made?)
So that you can make the best decision for yourself, you will find all the necessary information here on this page to help you decide which champagne is right for you.
Keep one thing in mind: not all champagne is the same. You will see that there is a great variety, which is characterised by many wineries.
What bottle sizes are there?
A total of 14 different bottle sizes can be distinguished, some of whose names have a historical background:
How do the different grape varieties differ?
- Pinot Noir - also known as the king of wines.
It is one of the "noble" grapes and is also mainly used for making wine. It is believed that this grape has been around for about 2000 years. Its colour is dark blue to violet-blue. The aromas range from almost austere to sour but also very soft, velvety and aromatically complex. The aroma is slightly sweet with many berry nuances.
- Pinot Meunier - means "miller's grape".
The grape has this name because the leaves are very hairy on the underside and therefore look as if they are dusted with flour. In the vernacular, this variety is also known as Schwarzriesling. It is mainly used to make cheap champagne. The aromas range from apple and sloe to rosehip.
- Chardonnay - one of the most famous grape varieties in the world.
It also belongs to the exclusive grape varieties, which are green-yellow to amber in colour. Chardonnay can be grown on almost any type of soil, which ensures that it is widely grown all over the world.
The taste is often described as "neutral" and the best quality is achieved with this grape during a long storage period. The aroma of melon, exotic fruits and gooseberries is particularly characteristic.
Which dosage provides which taste?
- "Brut nature" - "Dosage zéro" or "None dosé"
These are champagnes with a dosage of 0 to 3 grams per litre. With this addition, the champagne is very dry and tart.
- "Extra Brut"
Champagnes with a dosage of 0 to 6 grams. This produces a champagne with a lot of breed and elegance.
With a dosage of up to 15 grams, champagnes are called brut. This achieves a light freshness in combination with a slight sweetness.
- "Extra dry"
This corresponds to a dosage of 12 to 20 grams. However, this variant is no longer used so often nowadays.
The dosage here is 17 to 35 grams. This makes for a sweetish champagne.
- "Demi Sec
This is the sweetest version of champagne with a dosage of 33 to 50 grams.
Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate champagnes
If you want to decide which champagne to buy, there are a few criteria you can use to find out which one you should choose. In the following, we want to show you what you can look out for in order to make the right decision for you:
- Grape varieties used
- Matching food
Since the production of champagne is strictly regulated and must follow certain rules, the characteristic of the production is not suitable for a purchase decision.
Grape varieties used
In general, when buying champagne, you should pay attention to which grapes are used for the most part. As you may have read, only three grape varieties are used: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.
Pinot Noir is considered the "king of wines". This means that the more grapes of this type, the higher the quality of the champagne. So you should ask yourself what you value. Pinot Meunier is some of the cheaper and more common grapes, just like Chardonnay.
Basically, the more Pinot Noir, the higher the quality of the champagne. This is mainly due to the fact that Pinot Noir is very demanding in terms of location and soil.
This means that heavy soils do not produce a good harvest. A calcareous soil is best suited. The skin of the berry is very thin-walled and must be carefully cared for. In addition, the grape is also very sensitive to heat and cold.
Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, on the other hand, are not very demanding in terms of soil or location. Both grape varieties can be grown in many areas and are therefore very common and well-known. So when you are in the supermarket, you can first check which grape varieties have been used and in what proportions.
Champagne, although produced in the same way, offers a wide variety of aromas. This makes for great variety and individuality among the different producers.
For example, there are champagnes that smell of fruit. These include gooseberries, nectarines, red fruits, pineapple, apricots or grapefruit. On the other hand, there are also aromas that are compared with pepper or brioche (a French pastry made of egg- and fat-rich dough).
Depending on the scent, the champagnes are slightly tangy or tart. So you have to decide which smell you prefer. The occasion on which you want to enjoy the champagne also plays a role here. There are champagnes whose aroma goes better with fish or others that go better with poultry.
In addition to the usual champagnes, there are also varieties that are particularly suitable as an aperitif or are even drunk with ice cubes. So if you simply want a sparkling refreshment on a warm summer evening, enjoy such a champagne. You often get the information on the back of the bottle.
Different types and tastes can be distinguished among champagnes. Your own preference is particularly important here.
If you generally prefer only sweet wines, a sweet champagne will be right for you. But if you prefer dry wines, you should also choose a champagne that suits your taste.
The dosage is particularly important for the taste. This is the addition of sweet wines or sugar solutions after the previously added yeast and sugar have been removed from the bottle (for more information on production, see the Trivia section : Champagne facts).
The higher the dosage, the sweeter the champagne. As you may have seen in the guide, there are six different types:
- Brut nature - Dosage zéro or None dosé: These are champagnes with a dosage of 0 to 3 grams per litre.
- Extra Brut: Champagne with a dosage of 0 to 6 grams
- Brut: Champagne with a dosage of up to 15 grams is called Brut.
- Extra dry: Corresponds to a dosage of 12 to 20 grams.
- Sec: The dosage here is 17 to 35 grams.
- Demi Sec: This is the sweetest variant of champagne with a dosage of 33 to 50 grams.
The higher the dosage, the sweeter the champagne. So ask yourself what type of champagne would be right for you and what suits your taste better. The most common types are Brut and Demi Sec.
The occasion of the champagne should also be decisive for your purchase criterion. If you don't just want to drink it between meals, but enjoy it with a special meal, this should also be a purchase criterion for you.
There are champagnes that are particularly suitable for desserts (for example, Monopole Heidsieck Blue Top Brut Champagne). It is mainly recommended for fruit and creamy desserts. However, many champagnes are also particularly suitable for consumption with fish.
Due to their slightly tart or sweet note, they also go particularly well with shellfish or fish. On the other hand, there are also champagnes that are only drunk as an aperitif. These include, for example, the Ice Impérial from Moët & Chandon.
It is served with ice cubes for a cool refreshment. Normally, you will also receive a consumption note on each bottle. Pay special attention to the aroma of the champagne. It will tell you which dishes go well with it.
The winery also plays a role in choosing the right champagne. Here, the choice for you is probably larger than you first thought.
If you are interested in champagne, you will realise that there are many more producers than you think. You might spontaneously think of a handful of wineries, but the variety is greater than you think.
There are 32 in total, and since they sell their champagnes in different dosages, the variety of aromas and flavours increases. The producers also use different compositions of the three grape varieties again and again. This gives rise to countless possibilities for production.
Price is probably one of the most important criteria. If you are someone to whom price is not so important, you are welcome to buy a more expensive champagne with good grapes and a dosage that suits you.
But if you don't want to spend a lot, you can also start with inexpensive champagne, which is available for as little as 10 euros. Usually, the proportion of Pinot Meunier or Chardonnay grapes is higher than Pino Noir.
But if you want to try a better-known brand, such as Heidsieck Monopole or Veuve Cliquot, which is also one of the best-known brands, you will have to pay a little more. However, you can buy a champagne for 30 euros or more. You can also check out the comparison table.
Image source: jeanborges / pixabay.com