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The Best Champagnes Under $100

If you're searching for the perfect Champagne to cap off your New Year's Eve celebration, keep a few simple facts in mind as you head off to your local wine shop. More than likely, you'll be faced with dozens, if not hundreds, of choices, from Champagnes to sparkling wines, and from cava to cuvee. Knowing what to look for can help you narrow your options and select the right Champagne for your special occasion.

First, only sparkling wines from the Champagne region of northern France earn the right to be called Champagne. All others are referred to as sparkling wines, and many are very good. Second, Champagnes and sparkling wines range in taste from dry to sweet. Brut is the driest, followed by Extra Dry, while Sec and Demi Sec are sweeter.

Third, vintage wines, made from a single year's grapes, are more expensive, while nonvintage wines, which are blends of grapes from several years, are more affordable. The very best Champagnes are referred to as cuvees.

With these few pointers in mind, you're ready to go. To get started, here are some suggestions for your New Year's Eve celebration.

Select the right Champagne for your New Year's celebration.

Francois Hemart Brut Grand Cru
Expensive at about $80 a bottle, this fruity, non-vintage cuvee from boutique winemaker Henri Giraud has garnered rave reviews for its lemony and peach aromas, golden color and scents of vanilla and nutmeg. The term grand cru refers to vineyards in France that have established reputations for high-quality fruit. In this case, the grapes originate in grand cru vineyards around the village of Ay.

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