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There’s a lot of pressure (pun intended) that comes with choosing the right bottle of bubbly to kick off the new year. From nonvintage Champagne for every budget to splurge-worthy Champagnes to add to your cellar, there is a ton of variety out there.
Need help navigating it all? Our wine tasting experts break down everything you need to know about the best Champagne bottles to pop this New Year’s Eve, plus some intel on what Champagne is (to sound smart at your New Year’s shindig), how to properly open a bottle (so you won’t injure anyone with an exploding cork) and so much more. With our help, you’re sure to have the perfect sip when the clock strikes midnight.
What Is Champagne?
Champagne is a sparkling wine from the Champagne region of northern France that uses the traditional method of fermentation to achieve bubbles. It is most commonly made from a mixture of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, but the grape varieties in Champagne can vary. For more information on Champagne, check out our beginner’s guide to Champagne.
To make Champagne, a dry, high-acid wine (called the base wine) is combined with sugar and yeast before being bottled and sealed. A second fermentation takes place in the sealed bottle, and the resulting carbon dioxide dissolves within the wine and creates bubbles. This also adds additional alcohol to the wine and yeasty, bread-like flavors.