So, is the Champagne you’re Buying Worth the Money?
27th October 2016
This is a hard one to answer really as mostly it will be down to your preferences and of course, to many of us spending up to £100 for a bottle of Champagne is expensive whereas for some anything up to £1,000 for a bottle is cheap.
Is it down to the brand and the value we put on that brand? Are you picking up that familiar label, the Moët & Chandon’s and the Veuve Clicquot’s of this world or are you choosing a Champagne based on the exact region it was produced, the grapes used, the style, if it is a vintage, are you looking to support a smaller producer over corporate brand? It is important to know that although you pick up a major brand expecting to be buying something they have made themselves, ie from their grapes and their winemaker’s efforts, some will be selling what is termed as sur latte which is a process where usually the bigger labels purchase surplus / inferior bottles that are not yet disgorged* from smaller Champagne houses. Question yourself, do you feel better drinking a brand that is known over a brand that is not known, does it make the experience a whole lot better for you? I also throw into the equation that some of the lesser known Champagne labels, the smaller family produced ones, will have a far superior taste over some of the major labels and also be cheaper.
We also need to look at actually evaluating the taste of the Champagne to be able to give it a value too surely? I have attended many wine tasting events across Europe and many of these have been just Champagne tastings and I can say, from my point of view, many do taste very much alike and especially at the larger annual tasting events, you can sometimes only come away with a special star next to just a handful of labels from having tasted 100’s. For many people, I am sure a high percentage of those reading this piece, you will have a limited knowledge of Champagne tasting and will not be able to really decide which is the better, especially if their descriptions are similar, ie Brut, Blanc de Blancs, NV, Vintage or Rosé – The only really thing to shout out to us would be size of bottle (the bigger the better) or temptation to chose a wine bearing a free gift such as a stopper or that it comes in a fancy metal tin.
It does sometimes pay you great dividend to do some research before buying your Champagne – Of course, this is not really to be considered if you are simply popping to the local supermarket and opting for the cheapest bubbly as you have a party planned later and your main task for the evening is to get merry! Though if you want to buy some Champagne and enjoy it, maybe you have an important dinner planned or a special occasion, then research reviews online, especially the wines that are available from the local stores you are likely to visit (though do also consider ordering Champagne online as there are many companies offering this service and they usually have a great portfolio of wines to offer). I also suggest you download for free the Vivino App on to your mobile phone where 1,000’s of people globally are sharing reviews of wines from top wine professionals to less experienced consumers and this will give you a good understanding if the Champagne you are going for is great tasting and indeed if it is worth the money (or what money you should be paying for it).
I remember one top wine professional saying to me that it can be just whichever glass of wine you have spare if the moment is special enough and I think this is also a great way to describe Champagne. Many people will choose to purchase Champagne when a special moment is due, popping a bottle of bubbly at the birth of a child, celebrating a wedding, watching a sunset or reaching a business goal – Sometimes this makes the money you spend on your Champagne worth every penny if the company you are in and the moment is special.
* Disgorged Champagne are the bottles which have had the sediment / yeast extracted so that the wine is clear when consumers purchase it.
Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.