Champagne 101

Think Beyond Champagne

Strictly speaking, Champagne is sparkling wine that’s made in the Champagne region of France in the "methode champenoise" style of aging -- that's when secondary fermentation creates effervescence inside the bottle. Everything else -- be it an Italian Prosecco, a Spanish cava, or any carbonated wine from the U.S. -- is referred to as sparkling wine. Since they're less rare, they're a fraction of the price.

Don’t Worry About Wine Snobs

“If you like something that’s $10 a bottle, your guests will, too,” says Leonard G. Logan, owner of Elizabeth's Cafe and Winery in Duck, North Carolina. (See pro picks below.) And, unlike red wine, a better vintage doesn’t mean better Champagne. So serve something affordable, like Prosecco during cocktail hour, and then pour a more expensive varietal at dinner, he says.

Buy in Bulk

It’s the most cost-effective way to purchase large quantities at once. Check out wine.com -- they often offer one-cent shipping!

Offer an Alcohol-Free Option

Your six-months-pregnant maid of honor and any teetotalers in the group will appreciate a flute of something they can drink, too.

Save the Good Stuff for You

Pop a special bottle, like Dom Perignon or Veuve Clicquot, while you're getting ready. “And if you get really fancy Champagne or sparkling wine as a gift, for God’s sake, don’t open it at the wedding,” Logan says. Keep it for a time you can savor it, like your first anniversary.

Good Bubbly for the Buck

Champagne: Mumm Brut Cordon Rouge ($45) or Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut ($50, both at wine.com)
Sparkling Wine: Gran Sarao Brut Cava ($10, binnys.com)
Rose: Parigot Cremant de Bourgogne Brut Rose NV ($24, pasanellaandson.com)
Nonalcoholic: Fre Sparkling Brut ($6, onestopwineshop.com)

Product availability and other information in this story were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual vendors.

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