Chatelaine Kitchen

How to spot fake Champagne

The bubbly flows freely during the holidays. Here's how to spot the good stuff, for gifting — or drinking.

Bottles of Champagne - Masterfile

Thanks to a loophole in the system, some American producers can get away with labelling their sparkling wine as Champagne, even though the grapes are not grown in Champagne. Zut alors!

Well, the Champagne Bureau will have none of it, so they’ve pulled together some helpful tips on how to be sure the wine you’re sipping is the real Monsieur McCoy.

So if you weren’t a total wine snob before, here’s more ammo to raise your game to the next level.

1. Just because the label says Champagne doesn’t mean it’s from France. Real Champagne will have the country of origin on the label, and that country of origin should never be California, Niagara or any place other than France.

2. A bottle of real Champagne will always have the name and address of the producer on the label, including the name of its town or village. There are about 400 villages where Champagne can be produced.

3. Many regions around the world also produce quality sparkling wines such as Prosecco from Italy, Cava from Spain, and high calibre sparkling wines from Canada and the United States. But only sparkling wines from Champagne, France, can be considered true Champagne.

4. Each Champagne bottle will carry a Professional Registration Code. Most bottles of real Champagne either carry the letters NM or RM in the lower corner of the label. NM stands for negotiant manipulant meaning the producer purchases grapes, juice or wine. RM stands for recoltant manipulant and means the producer harvests and bottles wine from its own grapes. Occasionally, you may find other symbols on the label such as RC, SR, ND or MA. These are classifications for other types of producers in Champagne, but we don’t need to get into that right now.

So now you know! To learn more, go to the Champagne Bureau’s website.

For more tips on choosing wines, click here.