The best way to bring in the new year? With some bubbles, of course. And while we love our sparkling cocktails and inventive drinks, there’s just something about a fresh glass of champagne that gets us excited about the year ahead—not to mention, its crisp taste and effervescence is just perfect for a celebration. But with so many varieties to choose from, how do you pick the best one?
Enter Lara Crystal, co-founder of Minibar Delivery—an alcohol delivery service that stocks everything from the finest wines to the kitchiest beers—to help you figure out your bubbles this holiday season.
“Know the difference between champagne and sparkling wine,” Crystal explains. “To classify as a champagne, it will need to be made in the Champagne region of France, by their specific traditions. Champagnes are generally associated with quality, but you can find some very nice sparkling wines at great price points.”
Another thing to help you distinguish between champagnes? Figure out whether you want yours dry or sweet. Says Crystal, “I personally prefer dry champagnes, which means I look for the word ‘brut’ on the label. For a bit of sweetness, select an ‘extra dry’ or ‘extra sec;’ for a sweeter choice, find a ‘dry’ or ‘sec’ champagne.”
Still lost, and can’t seem to find the best choice? Don’t worry: There’s something out there for every budget, whether you want to save or splurge. Ahead, Crystal reveals her top choices for champagne at every price point.
Chances are, you recognize the name—which is exactly why Crystal recommends this budget-friendly pick. “A Veuve is a safe but winning choice for the new year, as your guests are sure to be familiar with the brand. They’ll know it’s a quality bottle perfect for a celebration,” she says.
Bollinger Brut Special Cuvée NV
If you’re unsure what your guests will enjoy in terms of flavor profile, Crystal insists the Bollinger is a safe bet. “The perfect mix of dry and fruity, this is a champagne bottle that provides a great balance,” she says. “It’s a really wonderful selection, at an even better price.”
$100 to $150
One of the richest, creamiest champagnes out there, the Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque screams opulence—and it doesn’t hurt that it’ll look great on your new year’s eve table, either.
“I mean, just look at this bottle!” says Crystal. “It’s beautiful, hand-painted, and will definitely stand out at a celebration. But outside of the artistic bottle, the Belle Epoque is really well-balanced and incredibly elegant in flavor.”
$150 to $250
Krug Grande Cuvée
The Krug Grande Cuvée is a delicate combination of three different grapes, 20 to 25 growths, and six to 10 years. The result is a mosaic of unique flavors that gives this champagne its distinguished edge.
“For those looking to occasionally splurge, this is the bottle for you,” says Crystal. “It’s a brand that puts quality over quantity, and is dedicated to fine champagne craftsmanship.”
“For a special celebration, select a vintage champagne—which means the grapes are made from a specific year—or a cuvee or prestige cuvee for a really special occasion,” elaborates Crystal.
A great option is this 2005 bottle, where only the finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes from the House’s ten most celebrated crus are used. “This really is the king of champagnes,” says Crystal. “The Cristal Brut is strong and elegant in flavor, and makes an incredible impression. If you’re looking to send a special gift this holiday season, look no further.”
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