In my opinion, there is no better pairing than a glass of bubbles with a meal and many wine enthusiasts would agree. When I am out to eat, I am always looking for a delicious bottle of bubbly and here are my Sommelier tips for how I choose what to order.
1) Order traditional method bubbles for a great bottle that won't break the bank!
You don't always have to splurge on a high-end champagne when you are out to eat. Often times, most of the true champagnes on the list are over priced, mass-produced selections anyway. There are usually well-priced, high-quality bottles of bubbles if you know what to look for. It's important to select your bottle by the wine region. Some of my favorites that hardly ever disappoint are: Cremants from Burgundy or Alsace, Cavas from Penedes, Sekt from Germany, and Franciacorta from Italy.
2) If you want to splurge on Champagne, ask the wine director for a good "grower champagne" recommendation.
Not only will a grower champagne (definition below) likely be less expensive than the big name brands (ie: Moet, Veuve, Ruinart), but you are getting a more boutique, hand-crafted product as well. These days more and more grower champagnes are popping up on restaurant wine lists. Usually most servers can help you with this, but if the wine director happens to be available, they are always the best resource since they curate the wine lists themselves.
*Grower Champagne: A Grower Champagne is sparkling wine crafted by grape growers and their families. It embodies those who grow grapes in their own vineyards and produce cuvées (aka sparkling wine blends) that reflect their distinct vineyards and style.
3) Avoid ordering sweet sparkling wines.
Unless you are looking for a bottle of bubbles to pair with dessert or mix as a mimosa, I usually avoid ordering overly sweet bottles such as Prosecco, Demi Sec, Sec, Dry or Extra Dry. All these words signify a higher sugar content in your bottle. Read more about sweetness levels HERE.
*Tip: If you are ordering by the glass, always ask to try the wine you are thinking about choosing. If it's on the "by the glass" menu, then they will likely have a bottle open for you to taste. After all, life is too short not to drink what you like. Cheers!