How to Identify a Good Champagne

If you’re preparing to purchase champagne for a meal or special event, you might be wondering how to make sure you’re getting a good bottle. Luckily, there are many criteria that make good champagne stand apart from the rest.

By choosing a reputable brand, you’ll maximize your chance of selecting a high-quality champagne. A good vendor is also important. You can help your chances even more by reading champagne reviews online and in wine enthusiast publications.

Here is a list of things to look for and questions to ask yourself when you’re purchasing champagne.

Start with the Marque

A ‘marque’ is a house that produces champagne. This is also known as the brand.

In the world of champagne, famous brands are usually famous for a reason: they produce great champagne! However, since everyone’s taste is different, you might need to sample champagnes from several marques before you find the one you like best.

Champagne

Some of the most reputable champagne makers include Bollinger, Charles Heidsieck, Krug, Moet et Chandon, G.H. Mumm, Joseph Perrier, Ruinart, Taittinger, Veuve, and Cliquot.

Champagne or Sparkling Wine?

True Champagne comes from the Champagne region of France. Any other region of the world produces sparkling wine (or “champagne” with a little c). For the purposes of this section, “Champagne” refers only to the real thing.

Champagne is produced in a special way that sets it apart from sparkling wines. It’s actually a law in France that real Champagne must be made according to the traditional “method champenoise” – the Champagne method.

This is a labor-intensive process. Instead of carrying out the second fermentation in a vat, the Champagne is placed into small bottles and allowed to ferment there. This fermentation is what creates the spectacularly tiny, active bubbles associated with true Champagne.

Choose a Good Source

You can purchase champagne at liquor stores, supermarkets, specialty shops, and online. The choice is up to you, and each has its pros and cons.

Supermarkets are affordable, and shopping online is convenient. However, it’s unlikely that you can sample the goods beforehand. It’s also unlikely that you’ll encounter an expert who can answer your questions at one of these outlets.

Specialty shops might have employees who can give you advice about the best champagne. Just beware if they try to get you to purchase the most expensive brand. It’s not necessarily the best for your budget, or your taste.

Vintage or Non-Vintage?

Vintage champagne is limited-release champagne produced during a certain harvest year. Weather conditions or other factors made that year remarkably good, so the champagne maker created a limited quantity of vintage champagne from that year.

There are a couple of important differences between vintage and non-vintage champagne. First, the taste. Vintage champagnes typically have more character and a more unique flavor due to the factors that affected the harvest. As the vintage champagne ages, the taste takes on different characteristics. Read more…

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London’s Best Food and Drink Events – June

2nd June

TOAST Festival @ Red Gallery

TOAST is a weekend-long celebration of food and ideas, bringing together chefs, restaurateurs, writers, entrepreneurs and producers to discuss and debate the big ideas behind what Londoners eat and drink. Taking place at Red Gallery in Shoreditch, this new food festival will feature debates on sustainability, entrepreneurship and the future of food writing, a food photography workshop, an urban foraging walk and a talk from Bompas & Parr talk on toasting. There’ll be food from Street Kitchen, a coffee bar from Dunnefrankowski, a pop-up cookbook shop from Daunt and an after-party bash at the brilliant Rotary Bar and Diner. We’ll toast to that.

9th June

Foodies Festival @ Clapham Common

It’s been running for eight years in various locations across the country but this year, the Foodies Festival comes to Clapham Common for the first time. Features include a Cake and Bake Theatre where the audience can join in with a live ‘bake-along’, a Chocolate Theatre to showcase the world of chocolate and confectionary with masterclasses and tastings, a BBQ arena, with hourly BBQ classes teaching you how to get the most from cooking outdoors, pop-up restaurant tents from Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa and Randall & Aubin, a Street Food Avenue, World Food pagodas, a beach area serving cream teas, live music, a wine village and an open topped double decker bar bus. Here’s hoping it stays dry!

8th June

Hot Wings Challenge @ Lazy Bones
You might remember we took part in a hot wings challenge at the Blues Kitchen last year, all in the name of investigative journalism of course. For any wannabe Adam Richmans who missed it that time, you can have another go on 8th June at Lazy Bones in Farringdon, home of the chilli wing and chilli mojito. All you need to do is to finish a plate of 12 hot wings and a chilli mojito in under 15 minutes to get your meal for free. Sounds easy right?! The quickest to finish will then win free hot wings for a year. Whether they’ll actually want to eat any more hot wings after that is another matter.

11th June

Crawfish Boil  with the Basin Street Brawlers @ Blues Kitchen

June sees the return of the Blues Kitchen’s annual Crawfish Boil. For £20 a head, guests will be treated to an authentic southern crawfish dinner, where buckets of fresh crawfish will be cooked in creole spiced stock and served at communal tables. Just like they do it in Louisiana, there’ll be plenty of cold beer flowing, and a live music soundtrack provided by The Basin Street Brawlers ragtime orchestra. Wear something that’s machine washable and prepare to get messy…

25th June

School of Grub @ Paradise by Way of Kensal Green

Not much would force us to go back to school, but we might be prepared to try out the Paradise’s School of Grub. The West London gastropub launches a new summer event series this month, hosted by some of Britain’s best food producers, artisans and critics. Book in for a cheese dinner with Blur musician and farmer Alex James, a butchery course by The Ginger Pig, Paul Young’s chocolate master class, and oysters & cocktails with Mother Shuckers & Sipsmith. School term ends with a foodie quiz hosted by head mistress Kate Spicer.

22nd June

RibStock  @ Street Feast Merchant’s Yard

After selling out 500 tickets in under four minutes last year, Ribstock, the competition to crown the UK’s best rib chef and restaurant, returns in a much bigger space this month, with 700 tickets on sale. At £50 each, they ain’t cheap but that will get you 10 rib tastings, plus two beers, a killer festival sized cocktail and access to a big street party with live music and DJs.

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