Sparkling wines a cheaper alternative to Champagne

Tue Dec 7, 2010 1:22pm EST
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By Leslie Gevirtz

NEW YORK Dec 7 (Reuters Life) - Champagne can only be produced in the French region that bears its name, but the joy that comes from hearing a cork pop can come from any number of other sparkling wines - at a fraction of the cost.

"The central problem is that wine pricing is almost completely arbitrary ... the price of a wine does not significantly correlate to the pleasure it brings," said Robin Goldstein, editor of "The Wine Trials," an annual guide to wines under $15 a bottle that beat wines costing $50-plus a bottle in blind tastings.

Dom Perignon producer Moet & Chandon sells more than 60 million bottles of premium-priced champagne every year, according Goldstein.

But in the latest edition of "The Wine Trials" most wine drinkers reported again that they preferred a $12 bottle of Domaine Ste. Michelle Cuvee Brut from Washington State to the $150 Dom Perignon.

"At a minimum it seems clear that many Americans might be wasting at least $138, at least where taste is concerned," he said.

Natalie MacLean, the Canadian author of "Red, White and Drunk All Over," agrees that sparkling wine can be good value.

"There are some terrific bubblies that will add sparkle to your holidays without taking a shine to your wallet." said the author, who also has one of the web's largest wine sites:

MacLean suggests Santa Margherita Prosecco Di Valdobbiadene Brut, from Italy, which she describes as surprisingly rich and toasty, yet packed with luscious peach and pear notes.   Continued...