Alternative fizz

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

If Champagne's not in your budget, consider ringing in the New Year with its lower-cost cousin. True Champagne is only produced in the Champagne region of France; everything else on the shelf is deemed a sparkling wine.

There's a lot to like about all sorts of bubblies, said Brian Abrams and Chris Brown of Corner's Beverage Shoppe in Polaris. "A lot of the people who are making these sparkling whites have Champagne experience," Brown said.

They selected two sparkling whites and one bottle of Champagne to recommend below, before throwing out some serving and sipping suggestions.

To open a bottle without making a foamy mess, remove the foil and wire cage and cover the cork with a small towel; hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle and gently twist out the cork, avoiding that explosive "pop!" at all costs.

Serve chilled, and think of bubbly as a delicate white wine when it comes to food pairings: tarts, nuts, white cheeses and fruit. "Some of the champagnes that are really good, you can taste a nuttiness in the background of it," Brown said.

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva

Region: Penedes, Spain.

Cost: $8

Flavors: Dry and crisp, with the taste of apples, citrus and some spice

Pairs well with: Fruit trays heavy on pears and apples

Brian Abrams' advice: "This stuff is really good. It's a bargain. It's different. ... We have people come in for wedding receptions and buy cases of this stuff."

Schramsberg Mirabella Brut Rose

Region: North Coast, California

Cost: $24

Flavors: Subtle sweetness of strawberry

Pairs well with: Cheese ball and crackers or puff pastries

Brian Abrams' advice: "The first time we smelled it, we tried it, we were like, 'We have to bring this in.' It's a bargain for as good as it is."

Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut

Region: Champagne, France

Cost: $60

Flavors: Apple and pear tastes with mineral qualities

Pairs well with: Drink it alone as a toasting favorite

Brian Abrams' advice: "If you really want, 'Hey, it's the New Year, let's treat ourselves.' This is not the most expensive, but it's the best. It really is."