Choosing cheap champagne is always easiest when you are able to taste your options, but as this is not usually possible, you will likely have to depend on research, a knowledge of champagne terms and buzzwords, and some sense of your taste preferences. Buying champagne is often intimidating, particularly for budget shoppers. It can be hard to know the difference between discount and expensive varieties beyond their price point. The best thing to do is engage in a bit of pre-shopping research, then ask pointed questions at the wine shop.
Many wine magazines and websites periodically rate champagnes and sparkling wines and offer reviews based not only on grape composition, but also on pricing. These sorts of resources can be tremendous assets when shopping for cheap champagne. Along with tasting notes and price, some of these features go on to describe some of the basic differences between champagne vineyards and vintages.
It is usually a good idea to educate yourself about champagne varietals before deciding on a bottle. Price may be your most important factor, but taste and flavor should never be overlooked. Take time to learn that a Brut champagne is dry, for instance, whereas that labeled “Extra Dry” is usually a bit sweet. It is also important to know that a champagne labeled “Blanc de Blancs” is made from white grapes only, while one with the “Blanc de Noirs” name contains red grape flesh. Cheap champagne usually comes with the same designations as really expensive bottles, which makes knowing your preference — and the basic differences — an important part of making the right selection.
The next thing to do is evaluate your options. Most wine shops and markets sell a variety of cheap champagnes. Champagne is also sold online in many places, but this sort of blind purchasing can be hit-or-miss unless you are really sure of what you want. Otherwise, heading to the store and comparing your options side-by-side is usually the best plan.
If there is a wine salesperson present, asking about cheap champagne recommendations is a good place to start. Merchants will usually be able to show you several different options within your price range. A salesperson may also show you a number of cheap sparkling wines, which are worth considering if you are not too attached to the wine’s geographic origin.
Only wine that is made in the Champagne region of France can bear the “champagne” name. Similar bubbly beverages made elsewhere in the world are usually referred to as sparkling wines, or “champagne-style” wines. Often times, non-French varieties are less expansive and can be a good way of entertaining on a budget without compromising much in the way of taste.
Depending on how tight your drink budget is, it is usually a good idea to purchase a few bottles of cheap champagne together, then sample them to determine which is your favorite. You can also get a sense of different bottles’ characteristics by jotting down their names, then doing a bit of research back home. A range of wine websites provide ratings and consumer feedback for different cheap champagne options. Vineyard homepages can also provide information on the overall wine-making process. Reading up on your options can lend great direction when it comes to finding and enjoying champagne on a budget.