Popping the Cork on Champagne Tastings in France — No Occasion Necessary
The tasting room in Krug, one of the most venerated Champagne producers. (Photo: Celine Gaille)
By Jennifer Ceaser
For Americans, Champagne is reserved mainly for special occasions: weddings, birthdays, New Year’s Eve. But in France, it’s a way of life — tossed back with the regularity of, say, a Budweiser here in the States. And nowhere will you find it consumed more often than in the Champagne-Ardenne region, where 320 Champagne houses produce some 259 million bottles of sparkling wine each year.
They include well-known luxury labels like Krug — turning out half a million bottles annually, with some vintages fetching as much as $21,000 — to tiny, family-operated houses, whose product you won’t find beyond French borders.
More than 300 Champagne houses produce sparkling wine each year in France’s Champagne-Ardenne region. (Photo: Celine Gaille)
A trip to Champagne country — a 45-minute high-speed train ride to its largest city, Reims, from Paris — isn’t just about sampling all kinds of fizzy delights, you can also discover the unique history behind the houses, many of which date back to the 1800s.
It’s unlikely you’d have the time — or the constitution — to visit all Champagne’s producers, which are scattered across 9,800 square miles of rolling, vine-covered hills. These three — varying in size, style and price — will give you a small taste of the wide range of Champagne that the region has to offer. Be sure to bring an extra suitcase for all that bubbly you’ll be buying! Cheers!
The champagne cellar at Krug. (Photo: Celine Gaille)