What’s the Deal with Vintage Champagne (and Is It Worth the Splurge)?
Champagne is like pizza—there’s really no such thing as a bad slice bottle. But what does it mean when it’s labeled “vintage” and comes with a hefty price tag? Here’s what you need to know to get the most pop for your buck.
What’s the difference between vintage and non-vintage Champagne? Vintage doesn’t actually mean that the Champagne is old, just that it’s made from grapes from one single year. Non-vintage Champagne, on the other hand, is a blend from harvests from different years. So if you see a year stamped on your bottle of bubbles, then it’s a vintage. No date? Non-vintage.
And why is vintage Champagne so much more expensive? Because there’s less of it. Vintages are made only three or four times a decade and make up less than 5 percent of total Champagne production. And like fine wine and whisky, age is also a factor. While non-vintages need at least 15 months to mature, a vintage requires a minimum of three years.
Is it worth the money? Well, that depends. Vintages are usually more complex, meaning they require a slightly more refined palate to truly appreciate them. They’re also totally unique—so there’s no telling what you’re going to get before you take that first sip (unlike, say, your favorite non-vintage which is produced to consistently taste the same.)
Bottom line: Want to impress your oenophile in-laws? Go for the vintage. Picking out a bottle for your upcoming nuptials? Non-vintage all the way. Whipping up a pitcher of mimosas for Sunday brunch? Skip the Champs altogether and go for prosecco.