Five Top Tips For Choosing Champagne

Rebecca Varidel
19th Oct 2016

There are not many people that know as much about Champagne as Sommelier Cam O'Keefe. So when we wanted to know more about Champagne we headed straight to this recent winner of the 2016 Vin de Champagne Award. Here are the answers to some of the questions you might be wondering about:

'What style of Champagne do you really enjoy?' 
While some Champagne loving folk may enjoy a more full bodied, richer style of Champagne that often a pinot noir dominate blend can offer, others may simply prefer a finer, more elegant style - one that perhaps a chardonnay dominate (or entirely chardonnay driven) style can satisfy. Whichever your preference, learn to know which houses or growers make the styles more in line with you personal taste, you're likely to discover which champagnes excite you the most and which you're happy to pay a premium for.
'How about time of day?' 
Champagne with breakfast? Yes please! But not all Champagnes will suit at this time of day... Perhaps something lighter, more crisp and refreshing will suit you better earlier in the day (morning / lunchtime / early afternoon) rather than something overly rich or complex - which can always be reversed for an evening meal or a more serious nightly event. A serious meal will command a more serious style of Champagne.

'What's the Champagne occasion?' 
So depending on whether you're treating yourself you a gastronomic meal or simply celebrating a favourable win at races, this will alter the decision which Champagne cork to pop next. Although we'd all love to crack that great bottle of Dom at any given opportunity, it may be wise to save the most special bottles for occasions that indeed deserve the very best. For more everyday occasions, as long as it's champagne corks you're still popping, you really can't go wrong.
'And budget...' 
Whilst not always easily spoken about, you should always probably try to (rationally) drink within what your budget allows you to. And I'm not trying to turn you off that bottle of Krug, I'm merely suggesting that great Champagne can be purchased at many different price points - so don't always feel you need to pay the earth to drink exceptionally well when it comes to Champagne (although of course Krug is always encourage when possible)
This, as with all fine wine, is a most important consideration. Champagne - although remaining the drink of choice for celebration the world over - is a still a fine wine, first and foremost, and therefore is always best enjoyed in the company of others. And yes, although sometimes l feel the need to enjoy the beautiful charms of it on my own, I always find the joy of sharing a glass of something truly delicious and bubbly with others, completely special.
On Cam:
Cam O'Keefe's champagne journey begun nearly a decade ago as he worked his way through the Melbourne fine wine retailing and restaurant scene. It was here where he quickly realised the most important part of this passion in the world wine was to focus on champagne. After entering the Vin de Champagne Awards a fourth time, Cam finally was able to fulfil his dream of becoming an ambassador for the champagne region and communicating to other why the wines of this special place remain the most important sparkling wines in the world today.