We all can relate to the daunting feeling of being handed a wine list at a restaurant and asked to select a bottle of wine for the table. Here are some tips and tricks to help make that task a little less intimidating...
1. Look Beyond the Brand Names
If the restaurant has more than Veuve, Moët, or Aces of Spades, you are off to a good start. The lesser-known producers (grower champagnes), always offer more bang for your buck. These are Champagnes that are made by the farmers who also grow the grapes. They offer as much quality (if not more), but without the high price of a brand name. (See my go-to list of quality champagne growers below)
2. Know What You Like
Make a point to keep a mental log of what champagnes and sparkling wines you lean towards: Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, Rosés, Brut Nature, Brut, and specific regions. That way you know what to look for or ask for.
3. Know Other Good Producing Regions
A good Cava from Spain, Franciacorta from Italy, Crémant from France, and Sekt from Germany all produce incredible champenoise style bubbles and are always less expensive than a true champagne, but offer similar quality.
4. Ask the Wine Director for Guidance
Even though I am a certified Somm myself, I still ask to speak to the wine director. After all, the wine list is their baby and they are sure to have some hidden gems you’ve never heard of. A good wine director will provide some obscure (and often incredible) suggestions that you’re sure to love.
5. Always Ask to Try a “By the Glass” Selection
If you’re still unsure, ask to sample their "by the glass" bubbles. If you love something, then you can safely order a bottle.
6. When all else fails, email me!
I'm always here to be your personal bubbles concierge!
LIST OF QUALITY CHAMPAGNE GROWERS:
CHARLIER & FILS
DEHOURS & FILS
GUY DE FOREZ
H. BILLIOT & FILS
SANCHEZ LE GUEDARD
VAZART COQUART & FILS