December 18, 2008

The Broke Socialite's Primer To Champagne On A Budget

In this economic climate, the last thing that some folks are thinking about is Champagne. I'd say let's not be so hasty. For the price of a couple of okay bottles of wine, a decent bottle of bubbly can be within your reach.

First things first, do not be intimidated by Champagne. Taylor Eason of Creative Loafing in Tampa has compiled a review (though cheeky) that's very comprehensive.

It's not impossible to find a really good sparkling wine or Champagne on any budget, but depending on how much you're spending, you should have certain expectations.

Bottles that cost $10 and under should offer a fresh, pleasant, short and crisp flavor.

In the $20 and under category, Champagne buyer Gary Westby recommends looking for a sparkler that features some bread-like or doughy character, which indicates time "on lees," or with the yeast -- an indication that the wine was not forcibly carbonated. "Look for texture in the mouth, a softness," Westby says.

In a higher budget range, anything over $20 a bottle, there should be more of that softness on the palate, but also dryness to the wine.

Finally, never pop a sparkling wine or Champagne cork if the bottle is warm -- it is too volatile and could be dangerous. Make sure the bottle has been sufficiently chilled -- at least 15 minutes in an ice bucket with ice and water or at least three hours in the refrigerator -- before safely opening a bottle of bubbly.

Do you have a favorite brand?


  1. Veuve Clicquot is my fave brand. There is a bottle of Bare Foot in my fridge now and I don't know where it came from. I guess someone brought it to the party. I might make bellinis with it on Sunday so I can tell you if I like it since Bare Foot is well known to be economical.

  2. @CreoleInDC...please let us know how those bellinis turn out;-)

  3. Veuve is also my favorite. When I don't want to spend that much, I grab a bottle of Freixenet Sparkling Cordon Negro. Champagne is a staple for me. Michael and I have our Sunday Mimosa ritual every week. and also, I'm a firm believer that you don't have to have a special occasion or reason to pop open a bottle. I like to just because!

  4. @Erica B. - I love the idea of "just because". Everyone should always have a bottle handy for that reason alone! Thanks for the tip.

  5. I buy Cook's, it's such a cheap champagne, but I love the Asti and Extra Dry.

  6. I'm down with that Freixenet as well. I bought a couple of bottles for my mom's retirement party this weekend and was hot mad that there was none left! I'm popping another bottle this weekend!!!!


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