It’s that party time of year, but who has the time to prepare for a really fancy event? For my holiday celebration, I did a really simple party: cookies and champagne. The French producers of “real” champagne will not be pleased to see me extending the term to include sparkling wine of all kinds and from non-French regions. Pardon me, but budgets prevail!
Most of the sparklers below you can get at Costco or supermarkets, and the standard is 1 bottle per 2 guests. And the cookies? Do a cookie swap type of party where everyone brings two dozen cookies and is thus entitled to take some others’ home. Keep cookies-and-champagne in mind for Valentine’s Day parties too.
The California Brut Classic Chandon. This is a soft yet dry and refreshing wine, made in the traditional champagne style, with a second fermentation in the bottle. Grapes are the traditional Champagne varieties, and in this bottle I served, the blend was 55% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay, 3% Pinot Meunier and a nice 9% Pinot Blanc joined in the crowd. Taste and aroma of apple and pear, with citrus, spice, almond and caramel in the bouquet. 12 percent alcohol. Around $20/bottle.
Someone gifted me a Zonin Spumante Brut Prosecco DOC. This Italian sparkler is intense and fruity, nicely aromatic with hints of white flower and green apples. Made completely from Glera grapes, it has a delicate almond note. This well-balanced and appealing sparkler has 11 percent alcohol. Average price on the internet is $11/bottle.
The Lamarca Prosecco DOC is a sparkler from the Veneto region of Italy, available at Costco for about $12. The bottle notes that it has fresh and vibrant bouquet of golden apple, white peach and honeysuckle are correct! Yummy, and only 11 percent alcohol.
You’ll have to go to a well-rounded wine shop for this one, but I suggest you try a sparkler from South Africa, the Graham Beck Brut, “method cap classique”. The blend is 58% Chardonnay and 42% pinot. It is a crisp, light, tasty, dry sparkling wine. 11.5 percent alcohol, $17/bottle internet price.
The Chandon California Blanc De Noirs from Carneros has a taste of berries and spice, and is a full- bodied medium-dry sparkler. I always read the back labels, and Chandon’s has a graph that shows you where the wine is in terms of the dry-to-sweet spectrum. Nice touch. 13 percent alcohol, $14-$16/bottle