Skip to main content
  1. Leisure
  2. Food & Drink
  3. Drinks

When choosing bubbly to clink, don’t settle for fizzies that clunk

See also

Just as everyone has probably enjoyed a generous cup of cheer, sparkling wine has made its annual appearance – mostly as a merchandising gimmick. Grocery stores and “catch-all pharmacies” are trying to liquidate massive inventories. As a result, end-of-aisle displays feature the full gamut: overpriced French bubbly and sweet, alcoholic fizzies for 21-year-olds. Really, these monstrosities are just booby traps for the clumsy, and the already-inebriated who carry heavy ballast of ingested booze.

Steer the shopping cart carefully. Yes, there might be a nice sparkler in the mix. But, as readers of this column know, Chicago-area stores that focus only on libations are where the best values are found. It’s impossible not to find something just a little different to punctuate a hearty holiday toast. Save the national mega-stores to purchase of liberal amounts of stain-fighting Oxi-Clean. (That’s not a plug; spills are just harsh December realities among those who slur their way through the spirit of yuletide.)

Below are a few selections of parsimonious effervescence, which (despite that seeming contradiction) should keep guests happy and talkative – and not about how some clumsy oaf decapitated a tower of California “Champagne.” Chicago Budget Wine Examiner believes these top-quality sparkling wines will allow imbibers to stay financially grounded – and still fly high:

Gruet Blanc de Noirs NV: This sparkler from New Mexico has earned a spot as one of CBWE’s Top Five wines of the year. With 2014 imminent, it’s the perfect time to keep drinking this always-delicious conversation starter. A really nice, full-bodied bubbly, it features a buttery aroma and an almost palpable texture. Great flavors continue on the palate, with lots of green apple and notes of sweet spice. $10.

Belle de Nuit NV: Never count out France’s ability to produce the Champagne style – just a wee bit outside the Champagne region. This is perhaps the best Loire sparkler at its price point. Four classic grapes create a nice mélange: Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. It’s a great aperitif, but if there’s still some in the glass when the meal starts, it works – especially with the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Belle de Nuit opens with enticing tropical fruit aromas; the flavors are of juicy, ripe pear on the palate. $18.

Gran Sarao Brut Cava NV: Spanish Cava is a nice Iberian riff on the aforementioned Prosecco. After a yeasty opening note, the flavor of the Gran Sarao Brut is fairly straightforward. It’s dry and crisp, with pear and not-too-tart white grapefruit defining the palate. Nice and bright – with a nice price. $10.

Here’s to ensuring that all holiday conversations remain lively – long after the anticlimactic “clink.” Cheers!



  • Corned beef
    Find out how to prepare a classic corned beef recipe in a slow cooker
    Slow Cooker Tips
  • Left handed eating
    Find out why you should never eat with your left hand
    Wives Tale
  • Subway message
    Subway customer finds 'Big Mama' written on her order
    Subway Message
  • Deviled eggs
    This is the only deviled egg recipe you’ll need this Easter
    Delicious Eggs
  • Natural solutions
    Natural beauty: All natural solutions to life's little beauty headaches
    Natural Solutions
  • Chocolate souffle
    Love chocolate? Get tips on making the perfect chocolate souffle every time
    Recipe 101

User login

Log in
Sign in with your email and password. Or reset your password.
Write for us
Interested in becoming an Examiner and sharing your experience and passion? We're always looking for quality writers. Find out more about and apply today!