Whether it’s a special occasion or New Year’s Eve, there’s nothing like a bottle of bubbly to cap off a night to remember. But knowing your way around a bottle of champagne—let alone picking out a perfect bottle or having a conversation about the “tasting notes”—can be complicated stuff.
So to make sure you don’t look make a fool of yourself, whether it’s at the liquor store or a cocktail party, here’s everything you need to know about champagne and it’s counterparts—prosecco and sparkling wine.
Where it’s from: The Champagne region of France
What occasion(s) it suits best: Visit to in-laws (or potential in-laws) or making an important announcement
What to know: If you want sweet, look for “sec” or “doux.” For dry, it’s “brut.”
Minimum price to not embarrass yourself: $35
Surefire bottle: Réserve Nicolas Feuillatte Brut
Pro tip: To drink champagne properly, chill for 30 minutes and serve. Unlike wine, it doesn’t need to breathe, and it doesn’t improve with age. Cheers!
Where it’s from: Italian hills north of Venice and Treviso
What occasion(s) it suits best: Dinner party with three or four couples
What to know: Look for ones that use “Prosecco” grapes, not others.
Minimum price to not embarrass yourself: $20
Surefire bottle: Adami Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut Bosco di Gica
Pro tip: Unless you’re clinking glasses with an alcohol snob, a liquor distributor, or a Frenchman, quality-wise, it matters not from where the bottle of bubbly is from.
Where it’s from: Anywhere, as long as it fizzes
What occasion(s) it suits best: Brunch, as a mimosa mixer
What to know: Chill for a couple hours, then let it sit at room temp for 30 minutes before serving.
Minimum price to not embarrass yourself: $15
Surefire bottle: Toad Hollow Risqué French Sparkling Wine