Here is some advice on how to throw a great Champagne party from someone who knows more than a little about Champagne and throwing parties, and has also solicited advice from friends who do a great good as well.
There are three things you need, other than somewhere to hold the party, and they are people, Champagne, and food. The people you invite will determine both the Champagne and the food. After all, parties are for people!
For a simply fun party, for people who aren’t serious Champagne nerds or aficionados (isn’t “aficionado” a much nicer word than “nerd”?), simply buy a selection of sparkling wines and let people try them. There is almost always going to be some interesting conversations, and often surprises, on the wide differences of flavors of the wines.
You don’t need true French Champagne for a great time, and can buy a bunch of fairly inexpensive and fun sparkling wines. Examples include Spanish Cavas, which are widely available and all pretty good, somewhat sweeter Italian Proseccos which are usually popular, some lesser expensive Californian sparkling wines, and perhaps some French sparkling wines, such as non vintage Champagnes or maybe less expensive and widely available Saint Hillaire, Cremant de Bourgogne or Cremant de Loire wines.
You might also consider having some mixers such as orange juice for
making Mimosas and Creme de Cassis for making Kir Royales. A Champagne
punch is another idea.
For food, appetizers like shrimp, chicken wings, cheeses, and more work well. Sushi and other seafood absolutely rocks. A simple solution for more substantial food is getting take out Chinese: because of its high acidity, most sparkling wines go well with Chinese food including sweet and moderately spicy dishes.
For a mid level Champagne party, you want to highlight the wines and have some theme. For example you might want to concentrate on non vintage Champagnes in a certain price range, or compare Champagne versus Californian bubblies, or one of my favorites: start with lighter Champagne like an all Chardonnay Blanc de blancs, move on to bigger and more robust Champagnes, and perhaps finish with a somewhat sweet demi-sec.
A high end Champagne party can vary widely, but the emphasis is on great Champagne. Let me give three examples of parties I’ve thrown over the last few years.
A few years back on my birthday, I opened a few bottles of Dom Perignon with friends. Specifically, we opened a bunch of different vintages: 1985, 1988, 1990, 1995, 1996, and 1998. Even the non-Champagne geeks were amazed at the obvious differences between the vintages and there were a lot of opinions on which was best. Food was Sushi from the local Sushi restaurant along with a few appetizers.
This past spring I threw a party where we drank some small Grower Champagnes I’d recently found I loved. We had 2 bottles of each wine so that everyone could get a decent pour, and drank 4 different wines with various appetizers, ending with rack of lamb and a big red wine. I had fun introducing my friends to some excellent and lesser known wines!
My latest Champagne party involved biodynamic wines, which we’ll simplify and just call “super organic.” One again, there were 2 bottles of each, and we had various appetizers, a spicy Chinese mung bean noodle dish, and Maine lobsters.
Now note which each of these high end parties, we had people that were really into and knew their Champagne. Not everybody attending of course, but most people, and a great time was had by all. You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy great wines of any type!
But it’s easy to throw a Champagne party even for people that rarely drink it. Buy some bottles of bubbly for US$10-$20 for example, grab some appetizers, and invite a few people.