Someone once described me as having â€œchampagne taste on a beer budget.â€ It was a dig at the time, frankly, a poorly veiled insult. Jealousy, perhapsâ€¦now Iâ€™m the one getting witchyâ€¦heehee. The lighter side of me thought â€œitâ€™s better than the opposite, beer taste on a champagne budgetâ€ â€“ and letâ€™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 yearâ€¦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 centuriesâ€¦ And itâ€™s time to pop a cork or two or three. I donâ€™t drink champagne too often but I do enjoy it on special occasions 3-4 times a yearâ€¦
I once visited the top vineyards/houses in Champagne, France. Walking 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 â€œhave cold in the fridge bubbly that wonâ€™t break the bank.â€ 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)â€¦ the one company in the world I would consider coming out of retirement to work inâ€¦ though I donâ€™t like their luggage, too in your face! If only Hermes made champagneâ€¦ Louis Roederer Cristal was very nice the couple of times I had it but havenâ€™t had it since. Mumm, Billecart, Taittinger (nice name), Heidsieck and Bollinger are some of the others that come to mindâ€¦
But donâ€™t limit yourself to champagne from Champagne. Wines made in the same manner but only accorded the â€œSparkling Wineâ€ moniker are terrific from some of the other parts of the worldâ€¦ Italy, Australia, California and even South Africa, I think. Chilling for this New Yearâ€™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 canâ€™t hack the taste, try it with crÃ¨me 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 pleaseâ€¦
And don’t forget the minors who want to pop the “bubbly” too – Welch’s has a sparkling 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 Ralphâ€™s that had floating bits of gold leaf in it the other dayâ€¦howâ€™s that for new heights of tackinessâ€¦ you can have champagne AND gold on a beer budgetâ€¦heeheehee. Always serve champagne very cold… Happy New Year everyone!