There's a faint rustle of excitement that echoes through the chaos of the holiday season. Beacons sound the call, reminding you that, through all the travel plans to see family, busy gift shopping days, and year-end wrap-up meetings at work, there's a corner to be turned. That sound is the sound of millions of bottles of champagne being popped all around the world in celebration of the new year ahead.
Every year you take time to commemorate the event. Everyone looks forward and back at the same time. You gather with dear friends, cherished colleagues, and those you wish to be a part of your future. The thrill of New Year's Eve is intoxicating in the best way. For some, it is perhaps the most important celebration of the year. The moment the clock strikes midnight, the joyous energy marks the first step in a year of new possibilities.
Why Champagne Is Used to Ring in the New Year
The fascinating story of champagne stretches back 1,500 years. The Champagne region of France became the prime location for royal celebrations, leading to the creation of Dom Perignon. King Louis XV was the first to define what can and can't be labeled "champagne."
From the start, drinkers of champagne have loved to pop the corks. This was particularly popular among the royal classes during lavish celebrations, including New Year. Naturally, the lower classes wanted to imitate the upper classes. Champagne, therefore, gained popularity among all classes who had something to celebrate and could get their hands on a bottle.
It wasn't until the 19th century that champagne became synonymous worldwide with New Year's parties. During this time, the price of champagne declined. Champagne producers began marketing to a broader audience. The sales of champagne skyrocketed, with production growing from around 300,000 bottles per year at the beginning of the 19th century to 20 million bottles by mid-century.
Champagne has always been synonymous with revelry. But perhaps it's so perfect with New Year's for more than its merry signature "pop." We also savor the overflow from the bottle and dream that the year ahead will be filled with a similar sumptuous abundance.
How to Choose a Great New Year Champagne
Above all else, a great New Year's champagne must have one thing: your approval. People have different tastes, and on a night like New Year's Eve, your glass must be filled with pure delight. That being said, there are a few things to note when choosing a bottle of champagne that best fits your needs.
You've undoubtedly heard the contention that unless a wine comes from the Champagne region of France, your glass of bubbles is just sparkling wine. Thanks to Louis XV, this is technically true. If you want authentic "champagne" for New Year's, you'll need to look for bottles from the French Champagne region. If you care more about technique than region, however, you can always select great "sparkling wines" that will not disappoint.
2. Dry vs. Sweet
A regular drinker of champagne will usually prefer dry champagne, but sweet champagnes are great with dessert. Look for "brut" on the label if you're searching for a dry champagne. Bottles that display "demi-sec" are sweeter. The sweetest champagnes are known as doux champagnes.
The sweetness classification of champagne is assigned by the amount of residual sugar left in the bottle. Here is a breakdown from driest to sweetest:
- Brut Nature: 0 — 3g/L sugar
- Extra Brut: 0 — 6g/L sugar
- Brut: 0 — 12g/L sugar
- Extra Sec: 12 — 17g/L sugar
- Sec: 17 — 32g/L sugar
- Demi-Sec: 32 — 50g/L sugar
- Doux: 50+g/L sugar
Any label that lacks information is a red flag when it comes to champagne — and wine in general. The label should tell you the type of grapes used, where the wine comes from, and the vintage. Champagne may not always include a vintage. If it does, you can be sure that the producer thinks it was a particularly great year for their champagne.
Champagne labels that don't include this information don't always mean the champagne is bad. Still, the best champagnes let you know right on the label what you're buying.
Finding Your Perfect Champagne for 2022
No one wants to pop mediocre champagne at midnight or toast the New Year with a disappointing vintage. That's why JJ Buckley only offers the finest champagnes. Our wine experts are here to help you find the ideal holiday champagne to start your 2022 off right.