What’s in a name?  Bubbly, Sparkling, Champagne…  New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, Every Day!

We just celebrated New Year’s Eve – a perfect time for Champagne…  Valentine’s day is upon us, so it’s another good time to break out the bubbly…  Yet, why not enjoy this sparkling perfection on any given day?  Many sparkling wines are available at prices equivalent to your everyday go-to wine.  Bubbles are synonymous with celebration, so why not celebrate just because!

There’s so much to talk about when it comes to bubbly – how it’s made, different types of bubbly from around the world, dry or sweet, the difference between vintage and non-vintage, how to read a bubbly label, and the list goes on…  This will be the first in a series of blogs to get you started.  We have recommendations for special occasion bubbly and also everyday bubbly.

What’s in a name?  Bubbly, Sparkling, Champagne…

Bubbly or sparkling wine are great general terms to use for any wine that has bubbles.

Champagne is sparkling wine that is produced in the Champagne region of France. This is analogous  to saying “Napa wines” meaning “the wines are from Napa Valley”.  The name Champagne is protected and most countries abide by that.  However, there are still a handful of countries that don’t and the US is one of them.  So, if you see the name Champagne, it’s a good idea to just do a quick check to see that it is indeed made in France!

And now… time for some suggestions:

Tried and True: (what is easy to find at stores, online and restaurants)

  • NV Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label, Champagne, France (SRP $55.99) – You cannot go wrong with this. As a gift or for yourself, it’s always crowd pleaser!  The flavor is concentrated, lots of fruit, great creamy texture.
  • NV Louis Roederer Brut Premier, Champagne, France (SRP $49.99-$54) – This is one of my favorite Champagnes. I’ve even seen it priced at $39.99 so keep a lookout!  It’s crisp, elegant and has just a touch of toasty brioche and fresh baked bread.
  • NV Henriot Brut Souverain, Champagne, France (SRP $39.99-$50) – This Champagne is readily available and is also a great crowd pleaser.

Everyday favorites: (everyday prices!)

Here are some of my favorites that have great everyday prices.  Some may not be as easy to find, but they are worth it!

  • NV Domaine J. Laurens, Crémant de Limoux, Limoux, France (SRP $13.99 – $15.99) – This bubbly over-delivers for its price point. The nose has a toasty, nuttiness while the palate is vibrantly zesty with baked apple and brioche.  If you try it blind with bubbly 2 or 3 times its price, you may like this better!
  • NV Gruet Rosé, New Mexico, USA (SRP $16.99 – $18.99) – This is such a fun rosé bubbly. It has aromas and taste of strawberry and watermelon and is so easy to drink.  I love bubbly and I currently have it on the by the glass list where I work.  It’s my go-to glass when I want something to sip on!
  • NV Pierre Sparr, Crémant d’Alsace Reserve Brut, Alsace, France (SRP $18.99-$21.99) – This is another favorite. It has flavors of apples and pears and a decadent richness.  This is part of one of my favorite wine memories.  I was in New York with my significant other getting a lobster roll at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge and we wanted a bubbly to have with it.  We went to local wine shop and saw that they carried this favorite of mine.  It was the perfect pairing with the lobster roll during our lunch out on the promenade at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge overlooking the view of Manhattan.

Special Occasion: (when you want to spend a little more)

These are my favorites for a special occasion.  Yes, they are a little pricier, but I believe that they over-deliver for their price point.

  • NV Pierre Gimonnet, Brut 1er Cru Cuis, Blanc de Blancs, Champagne, France (SRP  $49.99 – $54.99) – In my first year as a wine buyer I attended a trade tasting consisting solely of sparkling wine, over 95% of them were Champagne.  I tasted 63 sparkling wines that day and didn’t even taste everything!  Sure, the most expensive Champagnes are going to be delicious, however, I was looking for something that was delicious and at a great price point.  I selected 3 Champagnes heading in to the holiday season that year, and this by far was my favorite.  So much so, this is what I had on my birthday the following year!  The aroma consists of apples and a slight nuttiness, it is bright on the palate which makes it’s body seem light, yet it has a steely strength.  It has a refreshing and long finish with a touch of bread dough.
  • NV Henriot, Rosé Brut, Champagne, France (SRP $69.99) – This is my favorite bubbly Rosé. I continuously taste this bubbly Rosé against all others and hands down, I still love this one.  It has bright red fruit with the right amount of creaminess and is full of flavor.
  • NV Charles Heidseick, Brut Reserve, Champagne, France (SRP $58.99 – $ 69.99) – I love this Champagne! They use reserve wines when producing this Champagne.  It has a gorgeous toasty brioche richness.  The body is full and the finish is long.  This Champagne over-delivers for its price point and I would select this time and time again.

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