Everything You Need to Know About Champagne, Just in Time for the Holidays

Man Pouring Champagne
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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.

Sparkling wine

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

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