Bubbly on a Budget

A Valentine’s Day co-post by Melissa Haskin and Anneka Miller.


Either on the deck under the stars or at The Nines Hotel with a rose petal turn down service, why is it always a bottle of sparkling wine?

It’s a tradition that goes back to the Roman conquest. But back then it wasn’t the champagne we know today. In the 1500s, the English first discovered that adding extra sugar to a bottle of wine and sealing it created an effervescing effect. It took another 100 years to perfect the technique.

Champagne, one French version of sparkling wine, became popular in the French court of Versailles. “Royalty loved the novelty of sparkling wine,” Kolleen M. Guy, associate professor and author told Life’s Little Mysteries. “It was said to have positive effects on women’s beauty and man’s wit.” King Louis XV’s mistress Madame de Pompadour is quoted saying, “Champagne is the sole drink a woman who is careful of her beauty can drink. It makes you glow with no ugly flush. You can drink it all evening and still be beautiful when you awake the next morning.”

This light colored sparkler became popular throughout Europe and then the United States as a symbol of luxury and mark of celebration. “Champagne does this symbolically, but also visually, since it overflows in abundance and joy,” said Guy.

Sparkling wine isn’t limited to the famously expensive Champagnes. Mousseux and Cremant are two other French wines produced outside Champagne, France. The Spanish make Cava, the Germans make Sket, and the Italians make Prosecco. (The best way to piss off a wine snob is to call Barefoot sparkling brut, Champagne because not all bubbly’s are champagne.)

With all the glittering options, buying bubbles for your sweetheart doesn’t have to break the bank. We set out to find three good sparklers around $10.

We started with something light that has a classic Champagne feel, Blason de Bourgogne Crémant de Bourgogne. It is a well balanced sparkly, with a dry yet fruity finish. We could drink this with traditional spaghetti, fettuccine Alfredo, white fish such as sole, or tomato feta chicken. For a night out at a quality Italian eatery with a small corkage fee, we suggest Mazzi’s with this bottle in tow, or a bottle of Torre Oria Cava Rosado. Blushing pink with bright strawberry fruit, it pairs beautifully with 60% dark chocolate, and starts fresh on the front of the tongue and finishes dry on the back. Pasta a la Bolognese would be our dish of choice for this wine.

If a sweet wine is the way to your honey’s heart, Cupcake Vineyards Piemonte Moscato is a soft bubble that leaves notes of honeysuckle and orange blossom in your nose. Best standing alone, it’s a perfect start or finish to any evening. One thing to note is that this bottle requires a corkscrew, but we promise there’s bubbles, so be careful when opening.

Cheers! And if you’re feeling adventurous, try one of these!


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