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How to Choose Champagne

Baffled by bubbly (but want it for your romantic night at home)? Here’s a cheat sheet with tips from Lewis and Risa Dimm, owners of Fairview Wines & Spirits in Hudson, New York to help you buy right.

Photo: Antonis Achilleos

KNOW YOUR PRICE POINT
Don’t be embarrassed if it’s low. There are great options at every price point. Not sure? Let the occasion guide you. Lobster dinner for two? Sounds like a splurge. Party for 20? Better go for budget bottles.

SKIP THE SUPERSTORES
Unless you’re just looking for some cheap bubbly for a quick toast (think along the lines of a New Year’s party), then mom-and-pop shops are your best bet. They’ll have wine experts available to talk with you and guide you toward the perfect bottle.

SUSS YOUR TASTES
Most champagne novices are clueless about what they like. Ask yourself, “How much sugar do I put in my coffee? None? You’ll probably dig dry or extra-dry champagne. If you have a sweet tooth and are looking for a champagne to go with dessert, try a Doux (the sweetest variety).

LEARN THE BASICS
The four most common levels are non-dosage (extra-dry with zero sweetness), brut (dry with a hint of sweetness), sec (slightly sweeter), and demi-sec (sweet, dessert-style). Let the wine merchant show you a variety of options, and don’t limit yourself to the few brands you might be familiar with.

GO FOR LOOKS
Once you’ve narrowed it down to bottles that match your budget and sweet tooth, there’s no shame in picking the one with the prettiest label.

Get more 411 on champagne >

-- The Nest Editors

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