Pop The Cork!

28 Dec

I find it interesting that many of the emails I’m getting right now are ads for champagnes. It’s that time of year, when everyone celebrates with a bottle of bubbly. Of course, we also serve champagne at major life events- births, marriages, wakes, and other large celebrations.

So why don’t I feel like opening a bottle of champagne this year?

Perhaps it’s that I’ve learned not to follow into the trap of champagne. Sure, I can enjoy a good champagne. If you’ve read deeply into my blog, you might have seen my first “aha!” moment about wine, with Dom Perignon’s 1982 Vintage.

Sadly, those amazing vintages are few are far between. There are several great champagnes out there, but much of what I find doesn’t move me. Too dry, too lifeless, too simple for my tastes, for anything less than stellar- and stellar champagnes are very pricey, even by my standards.

Pair of champagne flutes making a toast.

If you are in agreement, then it’s time you do what I did, and rediscover prosecco and cava. Prosecco (from Italy) and Cava (from Spain) are the current climbing trends that are making huge gains in market sales while champagne slips another 5% of sales this year. 

I’m not the only one noticing this. Our friends in the UK are as well, as I started to do some research on the topic.

Why prosecco? Why cava? You ask. “WHY NOT?” They answer back. It’s all in the buyer’s control. We’re noticing and making choices with our wallets. Cava and Prosecco are largely inexpensive (many bottles from as low as $7-30) that drink very well, with critics scores from the 80’s to 90’s. Moreover, they aren’t as painfully dry- hence that old Italian practice I see of people dropping a sugar cube into their champagne glass (with or without the Angostora bitters and brandy that make a champagne cocktail).

So, it tastes better, it’s cheaper, it’s not as pretentious, and it’s fun to drink? No wonder people are buying it!

In this day and age, people are finally realizing that there are great options out there in sparkling wine that just as viable as champagne, and we’re taking the plunge. I find these days I am gifting cava and prosecco in the same way I’m gifting rioja and tempranillo wines- to introduce friends and family to today’s great values in wonderful wines.

Now- if you’re going to splurge, then why not- drop the $$ on a serious champagne and enjoy? It’s tough to beat a great vintage from a great house- champagne is hard to make, a painstaking process- hence the price tag. And there are some expensive bottles out there. Looking for some pricey gifts? I found a few: From the ’96 Krug Clos d’Ambonnay ($1,995 at Southeby’s Wine) to the 1970 Dom Perignon Oenotheque ($2,495 at Sherry-Lehman) to the  Roederer Cristal Rose ’04 which garnered a score of 98 points from Wine & Spirits Magazine ($525 at Zachy’s Wine & Liquor). Any of these would make a champagne lover giggle with delight, if you have the disposable income to part with.

Just for fun, here is a link to ten of the top most expensive champagnes on the market.

After you’ve enjoyed that, when you go down to your local wine store, as the clerk to show you the cava or prosecco sparkling wine that offers incredible value, and pick some of that up for New Year’s Eve. You’ll be delighted and amazed at how good it is.

Whatever cork you choose to pop on New Year’s Eve, I hope you enjoy it, and drink responsibly, using a designated driver.

à votre santé!

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2 Responses to “Pop The Cork!”

  1. the drunken cyclist December 28, 2012 at 11:54 pm #

    While I agree that there are values to be had in Prosecco and Cava, I know you know that you don’t have to spend $2000 to get a decent champagne! I do not agree that most affordable champagnes are lifeless and simple, I know that many people feel the big houses are becoming too similar. That is why many champagne lovers are now seeking out ‘grower champagne’. There is no logical way to argue against the fact that Prosecco and Cava are economical alternatives to champagne, but few would argue that champagne has been passed from a quality standpoint….

    Like

    • jimvanbergen December 29, 2012 at 12:26 am #

      You are absolutely correct, there are lots of decent and good champagnes in the ‘affordable’ range, and still lots of value to be found as well. Perhaps my ranting/commentary assumes too much, but I have found many people straying away from champagne and the numbers do speak for themselves as for the standard decline of champagne sales.
      The pricey champagne examples are, to be exact, the MOST EXPENSIVE champagnes I found- hence the “why not splurge & make a champagne lover giggle with delight.” I’ll have a good look at this again in the morning, and appreciate your insight as always!

      Like

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