Champagne and New Year’s Eve go together like bread and butter. No New Year’s celebration feels quite right without a flute of bubbly to toast with when midnight strikes. The night of December 31st is all about new beginnings, and the right bottle of Champagne can make this special event feel like a major milestone in your life. Rather than kicking the new year off with a less-than-exciting glass of low-rated Prosecco, sipping on a fine 2000 Bollinger La Grande Année feels significant and can set a positive tone for the year. The best Champagne for New Year’s Eve will make even the most casual party feel like an iconic, once-in-a-lifetime event, and it’s a great opportunity to uncork your true showstopper bottles. In this guide, you’ll find a curated list of top-tier Champagne to buy this holiday season.
Mature Wines Make the Best Champagne for New Year’s Eve
The first rule for picking out the absolute best Champagne for New Year’s Eve is to serve bottles that have aged sufficiently and are ready to drink now. Factors like overall bottle value or even rarity aren’t always as important as the wine’s maturity. You could have a perfect bottle of young vintage brut Krug sitting in storage, but if that bottle still needs another ten years in the cellar, you might risk wasting the wine’s potential by uncorking it too early. Champagne can always be drunk young, however, if you can be patient and wait for it to fully mature, your efforts will pay off. In general, it’s better to serve a non-vintage Champagne that’s meant to be opened right away than to open a more valuable vintage wine that still needs time in a cellar.
However, a vintage Champagne is often higher in quality and more memorable than a non-vintage wine, which makes it a better choice for a special New Year’s Eve celebration. So, if you plan on drinking a special bottle of aged vintage Champagne, how do you know whether the wine is mature enough to serve this year? Start by looking at the vintage. A bottle of vintage Champagne should be at least five years old before it’s opened, and preferably much older than this if it comes from an excellent producer or a legendary year. Drinking vintage wine any sooner than this may not offer you the best tasting experience since some of the complex flavors won’t come through yet.
Another method for determining whether your Champagne is ready to be uncorked is to consider the type of Champagne that you plan on serving. Here are the anticipated average aging times for all of the primary types of vintage Champagne:
Prestige Cuvées – These wines age the longest, and are usually made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (with occasional Pinot Meunier in the blend). Let these wines age for at least 15 years.
Blanc de Blancs – Made only from Chardonnay, these age the second-longest, on average. Wait at least ten years, preferably more, to serve this style.
Non-Prestige Rosé – These require less aging than Blanc de Blancs, but are still best served between five and ten years after release, sometimes more.
Blanc de Noirs – Made only from Pinot Noir, these wines take the least amount of time to reach maturity. Serving them between five and ten years after release will offer you the best tasting experience.
In addition, any style of Champagne will age more slowly in a large-format bottle, like a magnum. Keep this in mind as you shop for the best Champagne for New Year’s Eve.
If you’re looking for a few recommendations for top-quality, mature wines to serve this year, consider these excellent vintages:
- 2000 Louis Roederer Cristal Brut Late Release
- 2000 Bollinger La Grande Année
- 2004 Taittinger Brut Comtés de Champagne Blanc de Blancs
- 2006 Philipponnat Extra Brut Les Cintres
- 2007 Gosset Extra Brut Celebris Rosé
- 2008 Moët & Chandon Dom Pérignon
Keep in mind that vintage Champagne is rarer than non-vintage Champagne, so it often sells out quickly as the holiday season approaches. If you want to serve the best Champagne for New Year’s Eve, it’s important to secure your wine as early as possible.
Top-Rated Champagne Vintages for a Luxurious New Year’s Eve
If you really want to impress your guests with the best Champagne for New Year’s Eve, consider the four legendary vintages that serious collectors frequently seek out for their cellars: 1996, 1990, 1988, and 1985. When you buy wine from a renowned Champagne house, virtually all vintages are exceptionally high in quality, but these four vintages are particularly high-quality and well-matured for this holiday season. These high-value vintages are usually reserved for holiday Champagne gifts and kept in storage for decades until they reach peak maturity. New Year’s Eve is one of the rare chances you’ll get to drink these wines without feeling as if you’re squandering the moment. These are ultra-special wines for ultra-special occasions. Keep an eye on the online marketplace for wines made in these years; if you see a bottle, consider investing sooner rather than later, as these vintages are in high demand.
While all four of these top-rated vintages can remain in storage for a few more years, they’re also mature enough to drink today. The 1990 vintage, in particular, received some of the highest scores, on average, in Champagne’s history and these wines are drinking beautifully across the board, regardless of which producer you choose. However, you don’t have to invest in only these specific vintages if you want to serve an outstanding Champagne for New Year’s Eve. The top Champagne houses generally only release wines when the quality is particularly high, meaning any vintage from a renowned producer is sure to impress your guests.
How to Find Top Quality Non-Vintage Champagne
While vintage Champagne is generally the most memorable wine to serve at a New Year’s Eve party, non-vintage Champagne can also be celebratory and very high in quality. In fact, one way to make the most of a New Year’s Eve party is to serve multiple bottles of top-rated non-vintage Champagne for most of the evening and later bring out a special bottle of vintage Champagne during the midnight toast. Non-vintage wine also typically costs less than vintage bottles, so you can be sure you buy enough wine to go around.
The key to buying non-vintage Champagne for a New Year’s party is to select wines that are higher in quality than most other non-vintages. Champagne’s top houses such as Krug produce non-vintage wines that are meticulously crafted and beautifully display the houses’ unique individual styles. Another benefit of buying non-vintages from top Champagne houses is that the wines often taste vibrant in their youth. While some non-vintage Champagne can age for decades (NV Krug Grande Cuvée 168th Edition is a great example of this), these wines are generally meant to be drunk young, when they’re at their most vibrant. Aged vintage Champagne can taste of dried fruit or toasted nuts as it matures, whereas a non-vintage wine that’s less than five years old is more brightly acidic. These wines pair especially well with New Year’s hors d’oeuvres such as cheese, caviar, and dried meats, as the acidity in the wine helps lift rich and fatty appetizers.
Here are a few perfect non-vintage wines to add to your New Year’s Eve shopping list:
- NV Krug Grande Cuvée 168th Edition
- NV Champagne Valentin Leflaive Brut Rosé
- NV Gosset Brut Grand Blanc de Blancs
- NV Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé
- NV Vilmart et Cie Brut Cuvée Rubis 1er Cru
All of these wines come from renowned houses, so although these are non-vintages, they will still impress most wine enthusiasts.
New Year’s Eve is a Time to Be Especially Selective
Investing in top-rated Champagne vintages and non-vintage bottles is a great way to give your guests a positive New Year’s Eve experience. But if you want to take your party to the next level or impress someone who knows a great deal about wine, you should also look into buying a few rare bottles that are difficult to find on the market. Because crafting fine Champagne is a complex and labor-intensive process, most of these wines are naturally rarer than most wines produced in many other regions around the world. Still, even among Champagne, there are bottles that are known for being exceedingly exclusive and immensely difficult to secure. If your guests know anything about fine Champagne, they might be rendered speechless if they were to see any of these rare bottles on the table:
- 1997 Louis Roederer Cristal
- 2003 Moët & Chandon Dom Pérignon P2 Plénitude Deuxième
- 2012 Bollinger La Grande Année Rosé
New Year’s Eve isn’t a time to be meek in your wine selections. Considering this is a holiday where Champagne is typically the star, it makes sense to save your rarest bottles for this moment, especially if you don’t plan on reselling those particular bottles in the future. However, keep in mind that these rare wines are typically limited in stock and tend to sell out quickly, especially as the new year approaches. Securing your investments early is the best way to ensure you get to serve only the finest wines at your party.
Think Ahead to Future New Year’s Celebrations
Another option is to buy relatively young vintages in advance and keep them in storage for future New Year’s parties. When you buy these bottles directly from a trusted wine retailer and keep them in professional storage, you have full control over the aging process from the time the bottle leaves the producer’s estate to the moment the clock strikes midnight on January 1st. Stocking up on bottles while they’re still young is often more cost-effective because as bottles age, they tend to gain in value. When, five or ten years later, you decide it’s time to open a bottle for an upcoming New Year’s party, all you have to do is take the bottle out of storage—no shopping necessary. If you have the wine stored professionally, the storage warehouse can even have it sent directly to your doorstep using secure, and insured, shipping.
Here are a few slightly younger vintages that you can keep in storage for the next couple of years (or drink now):
- 2011 Egly-Ouriet Brut Millésimé Vieilles Vignes Grand Cru
- 2012 Vilmart et Cie Rosé Emotion 1er Cru
- 2012 Domaine André Robert Grand Cru Extra Brut Collection d’Auteur
- 2014 Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Spécial Club Chouilly Grand Cru Brut
- 2014 Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Spécial Club Cramant Grand Cru Brut
- 2015 Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Spécial Club Oger Grand Cru Brut
The nice thing about Champagne is that even if you decide to open these bottles a little early, they will still taste delicious. A finely aged Champagne is ideal, but young vintage Champagne has its own charm and its vibrant flavors could be just what you’re looking for to ring in the new year.
When to Serve Your Finest Champagne Bottles
Once you’ve landed on a list of bottles that you think your guests will enjoy, you’ll also need to decide on a drinking order for each style, depending on how sweet or dry the wine is. Your goal is to ease your guests into each Champagne without overwhelming their palates. The image below details the ideal order to serve each style of Champagne throughout the night. In general, just as with still wine, serve your driest Champagne with food or as a midnight toast, and save sweeter styles for dessert, aperitifs, or nightcaps.
Doux or Demi-Sec Champagne
Serve these styles at the very beginning or the very end of the party. They should either be served on their own or with sweet desserts; avoid serving them with most savory appetizers or dinner.
Dry or Extra Dry Champagne
Dry and extra dry Champagne pairs well with a wide range of savory appetizers. This style can be served on its own or with food and is a great option if you don’t know the preferences of your guests (this is a good “middle of the road” style). This is also an ideal time to break out your non-vintage wines.
Extra Brut or Natural Champagne
This is the driest style of all and will pair especially well with bold, savory foods. The complexity of these wines makes them an excellent choice for hearty New Year’s Eve dinners. This is also an excellent style for making toasts since the prominent flavor excites the palate.
Save your most mature or rare wine for the midnight toast. If you serve a great, storied wine at this iconic moment, you and your guests will remember it forever.
The Best Champagne for New Year’s Is All About the Experience
Whether you’re bringing a bottle of Louis Roederer or Bollinger to your New Year’s party, the experience of uncorking and enjoying the wine will always be the highlight of the night. This is your chance to sit back and enjoy some of the most sought-after Champagnes in the world without worrying about bottle value or collectibility. You get to experience these wines just as their creators intended: by sharing a glass with your family and friends and taking the time to honor the effort that goes into producing one of the world’s most luxurious wines. In this sense, a great Champagne toast does more than ring in the new year—it creates lasting memories with the people you care about most.