Champagne Fashion: Despite a tight budget for most households at this time of year, it’s worth buying decent Champagne. Just like clothes, you get what you pay for.
The supermarket own-label fizz, on deal at a tenner, is a dress from Primark.
A step up are Non-Vintage (NV) brands. This is the High Street: well-made and reliable.
Vintage is like a designer collection: the expression of a single season.
Ever more popular are Grower Champagnes. They can be Vintage and NV. Imagine them as fashion students’ designs at Portobello Market: from de-constructed Issey Miyake-like to retro-70s. This is your chance to enjoy artisan, individual work for a fair price.
UK food retailer M&S specialises in Grower Champagnes, as do many independents such as Lea and Sandeman and The Sampler.
Two Champagne recommendations in London are:
Indie merchant Roberson has a superb Champagne offer, from house fizz at comparable prices to supermarkets, up to niche lines beloved of the wine trade. Egly-Ouriet, £140 may be expensive, but if it’s just you, your sweetheart, some hand made, artisan chocolate and an open fire, treat yourself.
Supermarkets and convenience stores all have so called half-price fizz at holiday times. Co-op has a well chosen range, handy small branches by London tube stations and most importantly, bottles in the chiller. .
Champagne is usually a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Blanc de Blancs are Chardonnay only. Blanc de Noirs are Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier. Rosés are usually made from the Pinots for colour with Chardonnay for elegance.
Champagne comes in sweetness levels ascending from zero dosage, brut and less common in UK but still popular in France: sec, demi-sec and doux.