Rule one for incognito public drinking: don’t order a bottle of Champagne. That’s because no matter how quietly you release the cork, you can’t hide the joyful sense of celebration that always seems to accompany even a sip of bubbly.

It wasn’t always this way. Long before King Louis XIV acquired a taste for the naturally carbonated wine produced in Champagne, vignerons did everything they could do to keep that pesky effervescence out of their vins. But once the Sun King made Champagne his drink of choice, his friends soon followed the royal lead and, before long, these early influencers had transformed Champagne’s fizzy wines into a celebration in a bottle.

Although seven grape varieties can be grown in the Champagne region, three — Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier — are the most widely used to produce Champagne. Some, like a blanc de blanc, which is made from the Chardonnay grape, are made from a single variety, but most are a blend of two or three, which allows winemakers to fiddle with percentages to create wines with an incredible range of flavors that can take on everything from oysters to—and this is no joke–lowly potato chips.

Today, though there are lots and lots of sparkling wines — at all price points — on the market, there is only one Champagne, and it remains a drink for all of us who want to feel like royalty, if just for a moment. Here are six to get your party started in style.

Champagne Josselin Audace Rose Extra Brut NV

Courtesy, Josselin Audace Rose

In the Champagne world, extra brut means that less than 4 grams of dosage, or sugar, was added to the bottle, resulting in fresh wines that are lean and steely. Unlike most rose Champagnes, which get their color from a dash of still red wine, this Pinot Noir sparkler’s ruby hue comes courtesy an extra-long maceration with the Pinot’s red skins, which also adds texture and richness. Try it with a fruit-based dessert. (Retail ~ $100/bottle).

Champagne Jeeper Grande Reserve Blancs de Blancs Champagne NV

Courtesy, Jeeper

Don’t let the name of this brut Champagne dissuade you from giving it a try: creamy yet lively with minerality and a touch of honeyed citrus, it’s elegant and beautifully balanced. The winery has a great story as well. Captured by the Gestapo for his work with the French Resistance during World War II, Armand Goutorb, the son of the original owner, returned to the family business unable to walk without pain. To thank Armand for his service, departing US soldiers left the family a Jeep, which he was able to use to inspect the vineyards. As a tribute, Armand — who had become known as Monsieur Jeeper— changed the name of the winery to Jeeper. (Retail ~$100/bottle).

Bollinger PN AYC18 NV

The PN in this brand-new cuvée–Bollinger’s first permanent addition since rose joined the lineup in 2008 —stands for Pinot Noir— the only grape used to make this golden-hued elixir, which (like all Bollinger Champagnes), is carefully aged in oak barrels, which imparts elegant aromas and a finish that makes you want more. Though not a vintage Champagne (the NV stands for non-vintage), more than half the grapes were harvested in 2018; the rest is a blend of reserve wines from 2009, 2016, and 2017. Rich and complex, the wine finishes with an unexpected freshness. (Retail ~$200/bottle).

Champagne Chapuy “Unique Oger” 2014

This is the first vintage of a new cuvée from Champagne Chapuy, a family-owned, family-managed house located in the Grand Cru village of Oger. Elder sister Elodie is in charge of running the business while Aurore looks after the vineyards and winemaking. In “Unique Oger,” Aurore has created a structured cuvée that brims with zesty lemon and lime over a mineral core. And, somehow, with only three grams of dosage, Aurore has managed to coax a hint of honey out of the grapes. Don’t drink this one too cold — you don’t want to blunt all those flavors— and be sure to serve it in a white wine or generous Burgundy glass so you can soak up every aroma. Pick up two bottles: this wine will continue to age gracefully until 2040. (Retail ~$200/bottle).

Nathalie Falmet ZH 302

After studying chemistry and oenology, Nathalie Falmet took over the family’s Champagne house in 1993; today, she is one of few women in Champagne who both owns a winery and works as its winemaker. Nathalie is also known for her ability to blend Pinot Meunier, which is better known as a blending grape, to her considerable will, finding ways to uncover the hidden flavors that make her wines so special.  Harvested in 2010, the Pinot Meunier grapes used for this rare bottling come from a single plot of land planted 50 years ago called ZH 302. Dry and focused, the wine opens beautifully to reveal spice, a bit of citrus and dried flowers. (Retail ~$185/bottle).

Legras & Haas Rose NV

Belying its pale-pink color, this grower Champagne is packed with the flavors of strawberries, dried cherries, currants, and other red fruits; layers of ginger, dried apricot, and biscuit offer structure and keep it anchored and interesting. The pinprick bubbles are yet another reminder that there’s nothing quite like real Champagne; in the glass, they create a delicate mousse. Owner François Legras was born into a family with four centuries of grape-growing experience; he established Legras & Haas in 1991 after marrying Brigitte Legras, née Haas. Today, the company is run by their three sons, Olivier, Rémi, and Jérôme. (Retail ~$63/bottle).

Cover image, courtesy of Canva.