Everything you need to know about Champagne

Champagne, anyone?
Champagne, anyone?

Champagne has a way of elevating every experience, whether you’re taking in art, ringing in the New Year or staying in with friends. Once exclusively associated with special occasions, the French sparkling wine has become less of an extravagance and more of an everyday indulgence. Because who’s to say an intimate dinner at home or even a new haircut isn’t reason enough to celebrate with a bottle of bubbly?

5 Favorite Bottles of Champagne

1 bollinger
Bollinger Champagne.

1. Bollinger La Grande Annee Brut 2005: Aromas of brandied fruit and toasted nuts mingle with notes of rhubarb, spice and dark berry in this silky vintage. $150.         

2. Taittinger Nocturne: Sweet and smooth, this sec Champagne is a blend of several vintages from about 30 different vineyards. $75.        

3. Moët & Chandon Nectar Imperial Rosé: This pinky presents a palate of ripe berries and caramel. When illuminated, the limited-edition bottle reveals designs by New York fashion house Public School. $60.

4. Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rosé 2006: A timeless blend with notes of red berry and hints of orange, mint and cinnamon. $170.

5. Champagne Salon “Le Mesnil” Blanc de Blancs 2004: While any vintage will impress, the 2004 is especially a standout, with flavors of white mushroom and lemon. $400.

Champagne Dealers in Miami

Total Wine and More, totalwine.com.

Sunset Corners, sunsetcorners.com.

Wolfe’s Wine Shoppe, wolfeswines.com.

You’ve Been Using the Wrong Glassware

flute 8c320ca9-653e-4bca-a87a-4431cf3b81de_1.af0a0e4a47ff29908bcfbf73a0ed16cb

A long, elegant Champagne flute is great for watching those beautiful bubbles dance and float to the surface. But its narrow opening means too little surface area for wine’s delicate aromas to find their way to your nose.

“It’s like watching an episode of Game of Thrones with your eyes closed,” said Belinda Chang, a James Beard Award-winning sommelier. “You get the sound, but you’re missing most of the fun.”

Instead, opt for a regular wine glass. Dario Vigil, beverage director for Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club, recommends a white wine glass for lighter Champagnes, proseccos and cavas, and a larger Bordeaux-style glass for vintage Champagnes with more body. 

bordeaux glass GW503.1489649763

Decoding the Label

In the world of Champagne, finding your sweet spot depends on the dosage — sugar added to a bottle before corking. A higher dosage means a sweeter Champagne, while the driest ones — brut nature — have no added sugar. Brut is the most popular style and sits roughly in the middle of the spectrum, from driest to sweetest: 

Brut Nature — Extra Brut — Brut — Extra Sec — Sec — Demi Sec — Doux

Perfect Champagne + Food Pairings

Strawberries and cream

Demi Sec + Strawberries + Cream

Rosé + Roast Beef Sandwich

Blanc de Blancs + Oysters

Blanc de Noirs + Fried Mushrooms

Brut + Potato Chips + Caviar

Extra Brut + Fish Tacos

Brut Nature + Fried Chicken

The Cocktail

Duke and Duchess Detail
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, available at the Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club in Surfside.

Duke and Duchess of Windsor


2 ounces chilled peach purée

1/2 ounce peach liqueur

3 dashes grapefruit bitters

4 ounces Louis Roederer Champagne

  1. Mix ingredients together in a glass without ice. Stir until the mixture becomes creamy.
  2. Pour into chilled coupe glasses.
  3. Optional: Top with elderflower foam and an edible flower.

Source: Valentino Longo, Le Sirenuse Champagne Bar at Four Seasons Hotel, Surfside.