Holiday Bubbles

Celebrations abound at this time of the year. And that, of course, means the ever present champagne. True champagne, however, can get very pricey very fast. I thought instead, I would taste a couple of more budget friendly bubbles to see if we can pull a fast one and help out our wallets. To the grocery store!

Most of us, I feel, know that we do not need the sky-high priced bubbles. Drinking champagne is all in good fun anyway and there’s no need to break the bank. But we don’t want swill either. We hope to be savvy with the cost and fall somewhere safely in between on the quality scale. Despite this, one friend of mine said I could “try to pull the Andre from her cold, dead hands.” So I guess this post isn’t for everyone, now is it? Let’s find something a little above Andre, shall we? Right. The grocery store.

I, along with two partners in wine, blind tasted two common grocery store wines. It wasn’t completely a blind tasting for me, since I was the one who bought them after all.

The wines: Domaine St. Michelle Brut (Around $14) and Domaine Chandon Blanc de Noirs (Around $15-16). Both domestic, so remember, we’re talking “sparkling wine” here, not champagne. Technicalities. I found these bottles pretty cheaply at a wine warehouse.

Cut to the chase: Get the Domaine St. Michelle if you’re going to get either. It’s easy to find, and it was GOOD. Honestly. It smelled and tasted like green apples, with a great crispness and a long finish. What more can you ask for? I gave it 88 points. My always professional tasting partners described it as “yum” and “yummy champers.” If those statements doesn’t speak for themselves, I don’t know what does.

As for the runner up: The Chandon Blanc de Noirs. It wasn’t that great. Not TERRIBLE, but definitely not worth the price. It was bitter. It left a bad aftertaste in your mouth. It was generally awkward, unbalanced and needed help. It was almost Andre. The one thing it did have going for it was its smell – fresh strawberries. I gave it 80 points. Save your money. My tasting partners? Reviews of “meh”, “meh meh” and “mehr-to-the-y.” (Yes, the really did write these things down.)

Grab the Domaine St. Michelle if you want a quick, easy grab that’s in just about every grocery store out there. It won’t be a regret. But also remember that there’s going to be perfectly good bubbles out there, without having to gaze up to the top shelves. Be sure to take a taste of Spanish Cavas and Italian Proseccos too. They’re far cheaper than their French buddies, but still with great quality. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my buddy’s favorite, Asti Spumate (another, slightly sweeter Italian bubbly).

Happiest of holidays to everyone! Have a great 2011. Be sure to share in the comments below about the bubbles that you had. Cheers everyone!

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