Champagne comes in many distinct styles, and every Champagne lover likes something a little different, but the Paul Bara Brut Rosé Grand Cru boasts so many desirable attributes that it's a natural choice as our number-one pick. For a quality Champagne at a slightly more approachable price-point, check out the Duval-Leroy Brut Reserve.
Where were you when you learned that it’s only Champagne if it’s from the Champagne region of France? This fact is widely known, but it’s a bit of an oversimplification. In France, the practices of wine regions are regulated by law. If a winemaker doesn’t follow the rules of a region, they legally can’t label their wine with that region’s name.
In addition to the geographical requirements, Champagne can only be made using three grapes: chardonnay, pinot noir, and petit meunier. It also must be produced using the traditional méthode champenoise, which creates the carbonation in Champagne by fermenting the wine twice—once in oak barrels and again in the bottle itself. Whether or not it’s legally defined as Champagne, sparkling wine is fun, delicious, and easy to pair with food. Although it’s great for a party, it’s our personal opinion that it shouldn't be reserved for special occasions only.
Here are the best Champagne bottles you can order online.
Paul Bara Bouzy Brut Rosé Grand Cru
There are so many distinct questions that determine what a Champagne will taste like (Which of the grapes is it made out of? What's the sweetness level? Is it vintage or non-vintage?), and it's a nearly impossible challenge to nominate just one as the best Champagne out there. But the Bouzy Brut Rosé Grand Cru from celebrated producer Paul Bara makes a very strong case, as it's hard to imagine anyone not enjoying this bubbly—from the most seasoned Champagne lover to the newest of sparkling wine newcomers.
Made from 80% pinot noir and 20% chardonnay grown in Paul Bara's own Grand Cru vineyards (which makes this a "grower Champagne"...more on that later), this is an opulent, textured rosé bursting with flavors of cherry, raspberry, and ginger, as well as pinot noir’s signature firm structure and plenty of peppery minerality. The Paul Bara estate is now overseen by Paul’s daughter, Chantale, and boasts a long lineup of special releases and premium bottlings—but for a combo of elegance, deliciousness, and value, the Brut Rosé is hard to beat.
Price at time of publish: $59.99
Region: Champagne, France | ABV: 12% | Tasting Notes: Raspberry, Ginger, Cinnamon
Duval-Leroy Brut Reserve
Due in part to the labor-intensive nature of its production and in part to its overall prestige, it's difficult to find a well-made example of Champagne for what might be considered a "budget" prices=, but there are a number of excellent brands available that represent great value to consumers—and Duval-Leroy is one of them. The Brut Reserve from Duval-Leroy features a higher proportion of reserve wines (base wine retained from previous vintages, which is blended into the current vintage in order to achieve depth and consistency) than similarly-priced offerings from bigger, more well-known producers.
You can expect to encounter notes of pear, berries, and chalky earth on this well-crafted offering from Duval-Leroy, a producer that has the distinction of being the first Champagne house to release a certified organic brut Champagne, as well as the first to achieve France’s uber-sustainable HVE (High Environmental Value) certification.
Price at time of publish: $47.99
Region: Champagne, France | ABV: 12% | Tasting Notes: Pear, Berries, Chalky earth
Best Rosé Champagne
Pierre Moncuit Grand Cru Cuvee Brut Rose
This pale pink example comes from Pierre Moncuit. Don’t be deceived by its delicate appearance—even though it’s light and pretty, this is a serious wine. Made from 80 percent chardonnay and 20 percent pinot noir, this wine shows both light white fruits and a beautiful texture. It would be delicious on its own but also has the backbone to stand up to a meal. This bottle would be an excellent pairing for any lightly roasted meat, particularly if it’s served with a fruity component.
Price at time of publish: $47
Region: Champagne, France | ABV: 12% | Tasting Notes: Red berries, White fruits, Mint
Best 100 Percent Chardonnay Bottle
Perrier-Jouët Blanc de Blancs
A Champagne made from 100 percent chardonnay is called a “Blanc de Blancs,” meaning white from white. This is a cuvée made entirely from white grapes—specifically, chardonnay. The Blanc de Blancs from Perrier-Jouet showcases a luxurious array of flavors, from aromatic elderberry and honeysuckle to crisp citrus that adds a fresh balance.
On the palate, this classically dry bubbly is full of bright juiciness, and will transport you to a breezy seaside getaway with its lively and silky effervescence. Keep an eye out for the smooth aroma and slightly creamy mouthfeel, courtesy of the light notes of buttery toast that accompany the fresh florals. This Blanc de Blancs is sure to be a crowd-pleaser to toast with in any season, and would make for a delightful pairing with shellfish or seafood, especially a light flaky seabass.
Price at time of publish: $74.99
Region: Champagne, France | ABV: 12.5% | Tasting Notes: Elderberry, Acacia, Honeysuckle, Citrus
Best 100 Percent Pinot Noir Bottle
André Clouet Silver Brut
A Champagne crafted entirely from pinot noir and/or petit meunier is referred to as a “Blanc de Noir,” or “white from dark.” After the grapes are pressed, the skins are separated from the juices so that the fermenting wine does not extract any color or tannins from the skins. Blanc de Noir wines are more robust and full-bodied than their Chardonnay counterparts—tasters often identify notes of black fruits and dark berries, as well as the classic yeasty flavor of Champagne.
This example comes from Andre Clouet. It’s classification is "brut nature," meaning that it’s a very dry Champagne. Additionally, since Andre Clouet is responsible for not only making the wine but growing the grapes as well, this bubbly also has the distinction of being a grower Champagne.
Price at time of publish: $64
Region: Champagne, France | ABV: 12% | Tasting Notes: Cherry, apple, citrus, oak
Best Grower Champagne
Bérêche et Fils Brut Réserve Champagne
Grower champagnes have become exceedingly trendy in the past few years, and with good reason. Besides growing their own grapes rather than buying them in bulk from other farmers, these producers also tend to be smaller, making fewer wines with more labor-intensive methods. The result is a unique bottle with a true sense of terroir.
Bereche et Fils is run by a father and two sons, and the family produces wines that are are complex and lively. The brut reserve is made from a classic Champagne blend of chardonnay, pinot noir, and petit meunier. It’s aged in old oak barrels, which gives it a round and mellow hint of spice. Pair that with racy acidity, red fruit flavors, and fine minerality, and you have a distonctive bubbly that will make anyone happy.
Price at time of publish: $69.95
Region: Champagne, France | ABV: 12% | Tasting Notes: Apple, Fresh-baked bread, Dried flowers
Best Champagne Alternative
Bellavista Alma Cuvee Brut
If there's an Italian wine that fully embodies the spirit of Champagne, it's Franciacorta. In 1967, Franciacorta became the first region in Italy to specify that their wines must be produced with the méthode champenoise. This process sets it apart from prosecco, which is generally fermented using the Charmat (i.e. tank) method. Although this method creates natural carbonation in wine, it doesn't yield quite as much of the complex flavors and deep color found in a traditionally fermented bottle. If you’re looking for a substitute for Champagne, Franciacorta is the way to go.
This bottle from Bellavista is a chardonnay-led blend. It’s full of tangy citric acidity and ripe fruit, with hints of green apple and brioche. The bubbles are fine and lively, and the wine's rich and textured body is extremely reminiscent of the traditional Champagne style.
Price at time of publish: $35.99
Region: Lombardy, Italy | ABV: 12.5% | Tasting Notes: Lemon, Green apple, Brioche
What to Look for in a Champagne
Champagne is a protected name; only Champagne produced in the Champagne region of France may carry that name. But that does not mean that a sparkling wine from Italy or the United States is not a great bubbly, especially if it’s produced with the traditional méthode champenoise, where the wine undergoes a secondary fermentation inside the actual bottles.
If it’s a French Champagne, it can be premier cru, grand cru, or autre cru. The first two designations mean that the Champagne comes from 60 vineyards in French villages with a track record of producing high-quality Champagne. However, the latest updates to this ranking took place in the mid-1980s, and there are plenty of autre cru vineyards that produce excellent Champagne, too.
Champagne has varying levels of sweetness. Brut nature is as dry as can be, extra brut is very dry, and brut is moderately dry. On the sweeter side, the scale goes from extra dry (extra sec or extra seco) to dry (sec or seco), demi-sec (demi seco), and doux (dulce), which is the sweetest.
Depending on the type of grapes used, Champagne can be made with 100 percent chardonnay grapes (blanc de blancs), 100 percent with pinot noir and/or pinot meunier grapes (blanc de noir), or with a blend of white grapes and red grapes (rosé Champagne). Besides the grapes, the taste and flavor of a Champagne is very much determined by the terroir. For a very basic orientation, Blanc de Blancs has a clean and crisp flavor with acidic notes, Blanc de Noirs is full bodied and fruity, and rosé Champagne is fruity but also tangy and acidic.
Champagne can be paired with almost any food, from steak to dessert. A general rule is that the sweetness of the Champagne should be at least as sweet as the food. For example, a dish with citrus fruit, such as a lemon roasted chicken, goes well with a brut Champagne.
If you intend to use it for cocktails such as mimosas, there is no need to go for the most expensive bottle. Brut, which is right in the middle of the sweetness scale, is the best Champagne for cocktails.
Is Champagne a wine?
Champagne is a sparkling wine that is produced in the Champagne region of France. Not all sparkling wine is Champagne, which is a protected name.
What is the main ingredient of Champagne?
Champagne is made from one or more of three types of grapes: chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier.
What's the difference between vintage and nonvintage Champagne?
Vintage Champagne is made from grapes from a single harvest year, whereas nonvintage Champagne is a blend of grapes from different harvest years.
How long does a Champagne bottle last unopened?
If it's a nonvintage, it keeps for three to four years. Vintage Champagne keeps for longer, five to ten years, but the very best vintage Champagne can last for decades.
How do you store Champagne?
For any long-term storage, lay the bottle horizontally between 50 F and 59 F and away from sunlight.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Madeline Muzzi is a food writer and wine expert. In 2015, she completed an advanced course in wine at the International Culinary Center in New York City and passed the test to become a certified sommelier. She loves sparkling wine and doesn't stress out about pairings.
This roundup was edited by Jesse Porter, who's worked as a sommelier for several excellent Champagne programs—and yet who finds it challenging to maintain a decent Champagne collection at home, as they tend to pair so nicely with pretty much any meal.