Celebratory bubbly for all occasions, including Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s
by Ted Loos
Champagne, France’s enduring sparkler, is one of wine’s lasting contributions to culture. Perfected by the 17th-century monk Dom Pérignon, who refined the process that gives the drink its famous bubbles, it has had a hold on our imagination and collective experience. It was, apparently, the only thing that could lighten up the hard-nosed Greta Garbo in Ninotchka, and remains the preferred drink when toasting dignitaries and brides and grooms, christening ships, and fêting sports winners. Countless popped corks attest to its power.
This is a wine that can be rosé, sweet (often known as demi-sec), or bone-dry (zero dosage is the label designation), but brut nonvintage (NV) is by far the largest and most familiar of all Champagne categories. As of late, there’s been a big spike in interest in so-called “grower Champagnes” (those that are made by small farmers in the region), but for a recent tasting of NVs, I stuck to some of the biggest, most prestigious brands that are widely available. These would make great gifts—especially if they are for yourself.