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Champagne Tastes on a Champagne Budget

Champagne and sparkling wines are great bubbly treats that go with anything and will fit any budget

If you're in the market for Champagne, you'll have to look for a French label. However, this same (or similar) process is produced from other regions of the world as a "sparkling wine." Either way, it's a wonderful bubbly beverage for any time from breakfast mimosas to brunches and on into appetizers, through any meal, and with desserts. That about covers the versatility of sparkling wines. Let's not leave out special occasions and the raising of a glass for a toast, either.

Once you purchase a bottle of sparkling wine, it should be cared for as you would any wine. Cool, dark, and with as little disturbance as possible. They're already perfectly aged, so you don't need to hoard it away for years on end.

Regardless of whether you purchase Champagne or another sparkling wine, it must be chilled to be best enjoyed. Aim for serving it at around 45º F. The type of glass you use is also important. It must be tall with a smaller lip than base. This lets the bubbles arrange themselves appropriately. A fancier description involves the bouquet that first drifts up the nose and then unfolds across the tongue in what is called champagne's "mousse."

When you pour, be sure to do just a little to avoid foaming, which means it's too cold or was handled improperly to begin with. Let it settle down and then fill the glass to about two-thirds full.

The rise of champagne's popularity is attributed to a monk by the name of Dom Perignon and many of us appreciate that effort very much. He endured many explosions and flying glass before getting it right.

Once opened, you can enjoy the best fizz for only a few hours. Then, it's still great for cooking. In fact, you don't have to use an expensive sparkling wine for cooking at all; just one that you enjoy drinking. Nor should you use a high-priced champagne for mixing with orange juice. Save the best for visual enjoyment and a delectable explosion across the tastebuds.

You'll find a sparkling wine to fit every budget. I find many of them to be absolutely delicious and don't mind at all consuming the lower-priced brands. Don't be surprised if you see an American product labeled "Champagne." That began decades ago with the U.S. not signing a peace treaty agreeing the name was sacred. However, in 2006, the EU and USA did sign a pact that no new entities would use that name. Those that were grandfathered in included Korbel and even Miller High Life (the "Champagne of Beers").


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