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Pop! Ping! Pop!

No, it is not the sound of my creaky knees—it’s the pleasant noise of a glass of bubbly greeting my taste buds over the holiday season. I really am a champagne/sparkly/cava/cremant girl almost every day of the week, but it seems I get more people to join me in my secret obsession over the holiday season.  Champagne is one of the most wonderful, versatile, and food friendly beverages out there. Plus, it just looks cool—total bonus!

There really is a champagne for just about anyone out there, from novice to expert, and there are great wines in any price range you could ask for. One of the biggest misconceptions I hear about champagne is that is too expensive. Another is that it is too dry and yeasty tasting. The perfect solution: find a champagne that has some Moscato (or Muscat) blended into the mix or a sparkling made in a non-traditional method, like Prosecco. Price-wise, South Africa, New Mexico, and Argentina are making some exceptional bubbly that’s truly affordable.

If you’re looking to add a little color and pizzazz, try mixing half bubbly with half cranberry juice, then add a few frozen raspberries as a garnish. Festive, and a great aperitif! Or, there’s the classic mimosa—bubbly plus orange juice. (Think brunch, here. Yum!) For the more adventuresome, or for those who want to impress with some bartender flair, make a simple syrup using culinary lavender, then add about a tablespoon of syrup to some dry bubbly, and toss in a few lavender buds.

The other overlooked bonus to champagne is its low alcohol content. It’s the perfect sipper when you have a long night ahead of you, and the last thing you want to do is ruin the evening with too much alcohol. So, this holiday season when it’s your turn to bring something to drink, follow my line of thinking: why not champagne?

All this being said, there are a lot of options! Here are suggestions from my list of personal favorites. (Also, these are all carried by Söntés, and are available at retail pricing.)

Entry Level

Bubbly, a little less snappy, with a more fruit forward taste

From very sweet to less sweet:
Il Vino dell’Amore (made with Moscato)
Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato
Cavit Lunetta Prosecco
Marquès de Gelida Cava

Mid Palate & Price

More traditional in taste without the crazy prices

Graham Beck Brut (S. Africa)
Gruet Blanc de Noirs (New Mexico)
Baumard Crémant de Loire Carte Turquoise (my very, very favorite!)
Philippe Foreau Vouvray

Top of the Line

More traditional flavor profile and more $$

Nicolas Feuillatte (a favorite of Martha Stewart—random info, but true. Otherwise known as, “Nicky Foo.”)
Non-vintage Haton Brut
Bruno Palliard
Moët Impérial
Henriot Enchanteleurs

Here are some other good recommendations that we just don’t happen to carry:

Roederer Estate
Veuve Clicquot
Dom Pérignon