Produced by some 5,000 vintners and renowned houses such as Perrier-Jouët or Piper-Heidsieck, Champagne is one of the culinary symbols of France. Here are buying tips from Champagne expert Thibaut Le Mailloux, spokesperson for Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) in France.
1. Make sure the word "Champagne" appears on the label
"First of all, you have to identify the 'Champagne' appellation on the label to make sure that this wine actually comes from the Champagne region."
2. Identify the Champagne code on the label
"Another mandatory piece of information that reassures the consumer on the quality of a Champagne bottle is the code inscribed in front of the label in small letters. It can read "NM", "RM" or "CM" for example. This allows you to know where the wine comes from, either a big producer (NM), a vintner/grower (RM), a wine cooperative (CM) or a merchant ..."
3. Different bottles of Champagne are appropriate for different occasions
"Champagne offers such variety that it can accompany any dish, from aperitif to dessert. Know, however, that certain types of bottles are more appropriate to certain dishes. Champagne brut is well adapted to the aperitif, while older bottles will suit meat dishes better. In any case, we recommend going for a well-established brand of Champagne if you want to reassure your guests and choose a vintner's Champagne if your guests are Champagne connoisseurs ready to discover something new."
4. Choose the right glass
"Every flute is not adapted to every Champagne. Some are too cylindrical and certain Champagnes require a tulip-shaped glass to open up, while older vintages are always better when served in wine glasses."