30 Dec2005


by Marketman

Someone once described me as having “champagne taste on a beer budget.” champ1It was a dig at the time, frankly, a poorly veiled insult. Jealousy, perhaps…now I’m the one getting witchy…heehee. The lighter side of me thought “it’s better than the opposite, beer taste on a champagne budget” – and let’s just say who went where in the past twenty years leaves me happy with my choices, thanks. So we are now on the cusp of a new year…a chance to make all those resolutions that dissolve into the crisp February air before the summer hits with a vengeance and airconditioning earns its place in the Top10 inventions of the past two centuries… And it’s time to pop a cork or two or three. I don’t drink champagne too often but I do enjoy it on special occasions 3-4 times a year…

I once visited the top vineyards/houses in Champagne, France. champ3Walking through the labyrinth caves filled with bottles of champagne was a memorable experience. I am not a connoisseur of wines but to be safe, I tend to buy brands that have done me well in the past. Veuve Clicquot is a favorite (not to mention that really cool orange label!) that is delicious but not too expensive…we had quite a bit at our wedding and subsequent anniversaries. Dom Perignon once in a blue moon is a real treat, regardless of its exhorbitant cost (running upwards of USD200 or more for a really decent bottle). Krug I have had only 3-4 times in my life but savored it and I understand a recent release of a particularly good vintage pegs this one at USD750! Yikes! Moet et Chandon is my staple “have cold in the fridge bubbly that won’t break the bank.” Definitely a modest but good standby champers and readily available at any Duty Free counter near you… It is perhaps not a coincidence that all four of those brands are owned LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy)… the one company in the world I would consider coming out of retirement to work in… though I don’t like their luggage, too in your face! If only Hermes made champagne… Louis Roederer Cristal was very nice the couple of times I had it but haven’t had it since. Mumm, Billecart, Taittinger (nice name), Heidsieck and Bollinger are some of the others that come to mind…

But don’t limit yourself to champagne from Champagne. Wines made in the same manner but only accorded the “Sparkling Wine” moniker are terrific from some of the other parts of the world… Italy, Australia, California and even South Africa, I think. champ4Chilling for this New Year’s Eve is a spectacular bottle of Sparkling White Shiraz that a cousin handcarried into Manila the other day. Sparkling Shiraz is all the rage down under and I am curious to see what it tastes like. We also have a few other bottles of champagne or sparkling wine chilling. If you find champagne too dry or can’t hack the taste, try it with crème de cassis for a kir royale, or with freshly squeezed orange juice as a mimosa or perhaps a bellini (with peach juice). I suspect it would be good with fresh mango juice but remove the pulp please…

And don’t forget the minors who want to pop the “bubbly” too – Welch’s has a champ2sparkling grape juice that is delicious and a hit with kids. Can also be replicated at home with soda water and grape juice, just pour it out of a fancy used champange bottle… They have them at good groceries and for HP 180 or so you can serve eight glasses… If you want to get cheesy, I even saw a bottle of cheap champagne at Ralph’s that had floating bits of gold leaf in it the other day…how’s that for new heights of tackiness… you can have champagne AND gold on a beer budget…heeheehee. Always serve champagne very cold… Happy New Year everyone!



  1. linda says:

    Wow! MM, you surely know your champagne. Since I reside in Australia, I’ll just settle for the Shiraz.

    Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!

    Dec 30, 2005 | 6:20 pm


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  3. schatzli says:

    am off to Filipino friends (I dont know what they will serve but knowing the host who works for one of the richest family here- I will certainly expect champagne)

    anyway on the 1st Jan I will be off for a breakfast at resto

    As for the glasses.. I keep some crystal glasses wrapped in kitchen towels stored inside a tupper ware placed INSIDE THE FREEZER.

    anyway just am lucky to have worked to people who have all the dosh to have these brands on their cava and do not take count how many have been opened.So I had my pleasure to have my share ;-)


    Dec 30, 2005 | 6:30 pm

  4. ccb says:

    Wow, this post brings back memories of Paris (but not Reims, sadly I’ve never been to champagne). I once had the pleasure of meeting Olivier Krug in a Champagne dinner at the Ritz. It was Christmas time and I just finished my french pastry course at the hotel’s cooking school. I was lucky there was still one seat available as there were only 16 slots! (And to think I reserved as soon as I saw the announcement about two months earlier) Definitely a once in a lifetime event,I thought. We had cheese souffle with a Krug multi vintage, a salmis of pigeon and cabbage,I think, with another variety of Krug, and a chocolate dessert with a Krug Rose. adly I do not remember the exact names of the dishes but I did keep the menu card somewhere..

    Dec 30, 2005 | 7:24 pm

  5. Carlo says:

    Good cava from Spain is also an excellent alternative to champagne.

    Dec 31, 2005 | 12:19 am

  6. chris says:

    A good alternative to fine Champagne would be fine California Sparkling wines. A number of Champagne producers have set up vineyards in California employing the same methode champenoise techniques. They’re not cheap though, but can still be a better value than some overpriced Champagnes.

    Dec 31, 2005 | 12:58 am

  7. fried-neurons says:

    Count me as a not-a-very-big-fan-of-the-bubbly. Champagne is ok in small doses, but I don’t chug it like I do wine. :)

    Maybe I have a pedestrian palate, as I prefer demisec champagne to the brut ones.

    Having said that, I should add that the only two bruts that I liked were a Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque and a Moet & Chandon.

    Never tried Cristal. Am very curious as its reputation is so ghetto-fabulous. :)

    Dec 31, 2005 | 5:22 am

  8. Anna says:

    Bubbly with family and friends to welcome in the New Year has always been a tradition…A blessed New Year to you and yours…be safe!

    Dec 31, 2005 | 6:24 am

  9. aleth says:

    Happy New Year to you and your family. May God’s choicest blessings shower you this coming year… take care and God Bless.

    Thanks for sharing your info. with us your readers – will be looking forward for more reading :) Keep it coming ….

    Dec 31, 2005 | 6:56 am

  10. amalfi_boy says:

    Just to add to the comment on California Sparkling wine, Domaine Chandon (owned by, who else, Moet-Hennesssy) and Gloria Ferrer, both in the Carneros region in south Napa produces, not-quite-your-Veuve-Clicquot-or-Cristal quality, but affordable sparkling wines in the, respectfully, method traditionelle way.

    Cliff Lede Vineyards, in the Stag’s Leap District also in Napa, has been producing some of the finest US-produced sparkling wine way back when they were called S Anderson Vineyards. I actually like their stuff better thtn the European-affiliated winberies that I mentioned earlier. BTW, their Stags Leap-sourced reds are also quite good.

    Dec 31, 2005 | 9:17 am

  11. Alicia says:

    I do enjoy champagne,cava,prosecco, or any other sparkling wine…really, as long as it has bubbles,I’m good. I do want to share with you MM and your readers a very good maker that I was recently turned on to.. (new for me at least) It called RUINART , either the blanc de blanc or the rose, both champagne. ThePhilippine distributor Sommelier, owner Jerome Philippon mentioned that it was the oldest champagne maker in France and also recently purchased by the LVMH Group. They are not the cheapest bottles around.. in the neighborhood of P4000 a bottle but they were so enjoyable that I think it is worth a try. You can reach Jerome at 840-4211 or 0917-520-5050. He has a small shop on Pasong Tamo ext. Really nice guy. Excellent wines as well. I recommend the Champalou white too!

    Jan 2, 2006 | 3:02 pm

  12. mae says:

    Hi MM, Happy New Year to you!

    My favourite drink next to cocktails is champagne – Laurient Perrier (pink) to be exact. I got given 2 bottles this christmas (from work – they know how to gift!). There’s always one chilling in the fridge – you never know when you’ll hear good news.

    Jan 6, 2006 | 1:01 am

  13. William says:

    Cava will never be as good as champagne!

    Don’t get me wrong cava loving drinkers. First, they are made from very different grapes. The way to make them both might be the same but the taste will NEVER be. Second, the aroma are so different. Champagne always have the yeasty aromas that we all crave and love about the real thing. Cavas are always floral in aroma. Lastly,if you want the best alternative to champagne, try the cremants from the different regions in France. Most of them are made from Chardonnay especially those cremants coming from Bourgogne.

    The next time you have a desire to gulp down Champagne but on a budget, try a cremant!!!
    Sommelier Selection has a good collection of cremants that will truly satisfy your urge for the bubblies.

    Feb 29, 2008 | 3:33 pm


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