The Everyman Guide to Champagne

Ah, bubbles. They are light, airy and flirty as they stream up the flute. Drink them and your senses respond.

Sparkling wines are bubbly but can only be called champagne when made in the Champagne region of France. Styles vary greatly and while my favorite is more yeasty and toasty, a crisp, livelier one lends itself to a larger variety of foods. Pricing varies depending on vintage, availability and marketing. A $500 bottle is not necessarily “better” than a $100 bottle but often, an older vintage will be more expensive because it is more rare.

When pouring, notice how the bubbles play in the glass. Better champagnes form intricate trails of tiny bubbles from the bottom or sides of the flute all the way to the top. Bubbles of lesser quality spumante cling to the sides. Champagne and sparkling wines can be paired with many foods, but avoid acidic salad dressings and wine’s nemesis, artichokes, which will make even the most expensive wines taste like metal. For fun pairings, try truffled popcorn, Chinese egg rolls or duck fat fries with rosemary.


Philipponnat Réserve Rosée | Champagne, France
This elegant rosé is dry yet fruity with hints of strawberries, red currants and candied mandarin oranges. | Pairs well with smoked meats and fish, or pork, as well as desserts made with red berries. Avoid excessively sweet desserts. | $50

Sparkling Pointe Brut Séduction 2003 | Long Island
Deep gold color with aromas of brioche and toasted almonds. Extremely tiny bubbles that tickle your nose and make you giggle. | Try this with LI duck, lamb or mature cheeses. | $60

Taittinger Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne 1999 | Champagne, France
Classic crisp style with a long luxurious finish. Delicious hints of coffee, flowers and toast. | Great with light starters like crab meat and cucumber with dill in a light mayo/crème fraîche on toast. | $149


Krug Grand Cuvée NV | Champagne, France
Full, rich, elegant, lively and fresh. A little something for everyone and my all-time favorite. | Pure love with anything. | $172

Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 1998 | Champagne, France
64% pinot noir, 36% chardonnay. Delicate, silky smoothness. Part of a rare breed of champagnes. | Amazing with sushi, but go easy on the wasabi and soy. | $160

Louis Roederer “Cristal” Brut Champagne 2005 | Champagne, France
Saturated with flavor, from floral notes of rose to limestone and fruit. The flavors go on and on. Hints of honeysuckle and toast. | Open it now with scallop crudo. | $250