The words “inexpensive champagne” may fill you with horror, but inexpensive doesn’t have to carry all the connotations of “cheap”. In fact, going off the beaten track and avoiding the big brand names can lead to some fabulous discoveries that will be perfect for anything from the holiday season to family celebrations.
Champagne or Cava?
The first thing you can do to slash costs without losing quality is to head for other sparkling bubbly that can’t use the name by virtue of where it is produced. Prosecco, cava, and other sparkling wines are similar type substitutes that can taste like they are ten times the price you paid for them. As with any wine, it’s a matter of personal taste, so if you’re sampling with a particular occasion in mind, be careful to do your physical research (i.e. drinking!) as well as reading online and offline reviews.
Deals and Steals
Close to the holiday season, retailers are keen to attract customers with good deals on food and drink, so if you find a variety you like, look out for offers such as free bottles for multibuys, and discounts with other purchases. Again, be wary, as this can often be a way to get rid of bottles that haven’t been so well-received, or are otherwise not selling for a variety of reasons.
The Right Stuff
If it absolutely has to be the real deal, from the Champagne region of France, then there are some familiar names that provide value as well as a guarantee that you are getting quality. A smart move is look for growers in valleys close to the big names, and try their produce, which is often a third of the price of wines bottled further up or down the valley. Additionally, choose bottles which are non-vintage, and save the premier label varieties for truly special occasions.
Can you tell the difference?
If you look at this interesting comparison site, you will see that there’s just a hair of difference between champagne and cava, and even the grape varieties and production methods may be more or less identical. Could you tell the difference between a bottle of champagne and a bottle of cava from the same kind of grape and the same kind of soil? Probably not, unless you have a really sensitive palate, but your wallet will notice a saving of anything up to 50%.
Although champagne isn’t going anywhere in terms of the enduring romance of being a prestigious and celebratory wine, it’s interesting to note that in 2013, Prosecco outsold other sparkling wines worldwide for the first time.