There was a time I referred to anything alcoholic and bubbly as champagne. Not until I met Paul (my husband), did I know that the true term of champagne means it’s a sparking wine made in the Champagne region of France. So technically, if it wasn’t made in Champagne, it isn’t champagne. But…it IS commonly used to refer to all sparking wines (so I’m not the only one!)
Sparkling wine is a great way to start off a meal or celebration. I found a few that got good reviews for $20 or less. I am basing my prices on one of our local liquor stores, Cheers Liquor Mart www.cheersliquormart.com, but the prices shouldn’t vary that much, regardless of where you shop. A bottle of sparking wine also makes a great hostess gift.
MUMM CUVEE M – $18.99
The aromas are elegant, rich and complex, showing fresh white and yellow stone fruits with subtle hints of wild strawberry. A light touch of fresh brioche, with hints of vanilla and honey. On the palate, full flavors of peach and pear combine with a creamy caramel character.
BAREFOOT BUBBLY EXTRA DRY – $9.99
Shows floral and mineral notes on the nose. There aren’t many bubbles in the glass, but it bubbles up in your mouth quite a bit (in a good way!) An enjoyable sparking wine with tasty apple notes.
KORBEL BRUT – $12.99
This has been voted America’s favorite bottle-fermented champagne and is used to celebrate more weddings, anniversaries and New Years celebrations than any other. It’s light and crisp with spicy fruit flavors and a medium-dry finish.
GRUET BRUT – $14.69
Crisp and dry with pronounced green apple and grapefruit citrus notes. Bright acidity and very smooth, clean finish.
FREIXENET CORDON NEGRO BRUT – $7.99 (on sale)
This is what we personally drink the most when we want to enjoy an inexpensive sparkling wine. Consistent and pure with aromas of white fruit and white pepper and an overall freshness on the nose. It feels crisp and focused, with a foamy palate that brings apple, lime, peach and spice flavors. The finish is smooth.
GLORIA FERRER BRUT – $18.69
For a sparkling wine over $10 but less than $20, this is my favorite pick. Delicate pear and floral notes backed by toasty almond. On the palate one finds lively citrus, toast and apple flavors overlaid with persistent effervescence, a creamy mid-palate and toasty finish.
SEGURA VIUDAS BRUT RESERVA – $7.99 (on sale)
This was given an 88 and voted Best Buy in Wine Enthusiast Magazine (October 2012)…Here’s what they say; “This is as crisp and dry as a whispery red, with a mild grassy note on the nose. It feels fresh and focused, with lime, peach and apple flavors. Fruity, fresh and easy to like from start to finish, this is what a Best Buy should be.”
ZARDETTO PROSECCO BRUT – $13.99
Crystal clear with a hearty white foam. Fresh fragrant aromas and a delicately soft and harmonious taste are the hallmarks of this sparkling wine.
MIONETTO MOSCATO DOLCE SPUMANTE – $14.99
Fresh and crisp with a citrus bouquet. Crisp on the palate with flavors reminiscent of peaches and honey that are enhanced by the intense yet fine bubbles.
CASTELLO DEL POGGIO MOSCATO D’ ASTI – $12.49 (on sale)
This got a lot of rave reviews from consumers and the one I’m most interested in trying. Straw-yellow with golden reflections and a delicate mousse. Intense and very inviting, with delicate scents of underbrush, musk and peaches. Sweet but not cloying; well-balanced and with an extremely refined fruitness.
How to set up a “Champagne Bar”
When we make champagne/sparkling wine cocktails, we typically use the less expensive versions. Here’s a great way to set up a “champagne bar”….
Fill glass bottles with mixers like peach nectar, cassis, orange juice, and cranberry juice, and simply ice them down along with a couple of bottles (depending on how many guests you have) of champagne or sparkling wine. Guests can help themselves to their favorite flavors by combining equal parts chilled sparkling wine and desired mixer in flutes or glasses.