Champagne is usually the choice of folks who what to celebrate a special occasion like an anniversary, birth or job promotion. But in this time of economic hardship, there are other more economical and even tastier, choices from other areas of the globe.
To be called champagne, it must come from the Champagne region of France. The Champagne region is east of Paris close to the town of Reims. Some of the most famous, and most expensive, champagnes include Taittinger, Laurent Perrier, Piper Heidsieck, Veuve Clicquot and, probably the best known and most over-rated, in my opinion, Dom Perignon.
Everything else is a sparkling wine. Many countries offer sparkling wines such as Spain’s Cava, Italy’s Prosecco and Asti Spumante and the United States sparkling wines. These sparking wines are just a delicious, if not more so, than their pricier counterpart, champagne. Prices vary greatly between champagne and sparkling wines. Vintage wines, or wines that have a year designation, are considerably more expensive than non-vintage wines or wines without a year designation. That’s not to say you can’t find a vintage cheaper than a non-vintage. Within the same house, say Taittinger, vintage will be far more expensive than non-vintage. That’s comparing apples to apples. However, if you compare different makers, you can find vintage wines often cheaper than non-vintage. Here’s an example: Searching www.wine.com I found a vintage Gloria Ferrer Brut Royal Cuvee 2002 from California for $25.99. A non-vintage French champagne, from the famous Mumm house is currently selling for close to $40.00 a bottle. The wines have many similar flavors, according to the winemaker’s notes on the site. On the same site, a vintage cava from Spain, Raventos I Blanc L’Hereu Reserva Brut Cava 2007 sells for $18.49 currently. A Villa Sandi Fresco Prosecco from Italy is currently $13.29.
Even with this difficult economy, it’s still possible to enjoy a delicious sparkling wine for special occasions. To find out what you like, either purchase a few bottles and do a taste test, invite some friends and ask them to each bring a sparkling wine, not champagne or attend a wine tasting. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
NOTE: Prices quoted in this article are accurate as of October 24, 2010.