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Toasting to 2011: Web Exclusive



Article Published: Dec. 31, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

That dry bubbly pizazz is set to prickle your taste buds and toast in the New Year, and we're not just talking about champagne.

We're talking about sparkling wines and, while champagne is, perhaps, the most famous liquid in your champagne flute, it's not the only way to toast in 2011 Friday.

"To be called a champagne, to have that label on the bottle, the grapes have to come from the region of champagne... everything else is sparkling wine," Jennifer Davis said

An associate at Erick's Cheese and Wine in Banner Elk, she's been selling bottles all week in preparation for the big night and insits 2011 will ring in with champagne OR sparkling wine. It's all about the individual customer.

"The first question I ask when people come in is price point, how much are they willing to spend?"

And, if they're flexible, they can find a sparkling wine to fit any budget.

"There's some great sparkling wines out there, from California to Italy," she said.

And some are sweeter rather than dry.

"There are some great proseccos (Italian) and those are a little bit lighter in style and not necessarily dray... and a sweet Spanish cava (think under $20) and those are a little bit dryer in style," she said.

She recommends Moscato d'Asti from the region of Asti in Italy to dab on your palette.

If traditional's your game, try a Duval-leroy at $48.99.

"It's a 93-point 'Wine Spectator' rated wine and it's a beautiful non-vintage style," she said.

Tradition aside, is there a taste difference between sparkling wine and champagne?

"Generally, no," Peabody's Beer and Wine fizz expert Jeff Collins said.

A greater taste difference arises from how the wine is carbonated, he said, whether it's from the "traditional method" in the bottle ("before they bottle it they get rid of the capsule of yeast and sugar in a process called disgorgement") or in the tank ("the Cremant" method).

"Generally in the tank it's going to be a little creamier and a little less bubbly, in general a little softer style," he said.

Many of the "sweeter" style sparklers are carbonated in the tanks.

For you to choose the bottle right for your event, he recommends coming in and seeing the dozens of bottles a wine story like Peabody's has to offer.

"We have cost effective stuff from all over the place, California, Argentina as well as France, as well as champagne," he said.

And you can even find sparkling wine for under $10 (like Argentinian Toso for $9.99).

"For ten to twenty bucks, you can get some great stuff," he said.

And, if you're a traditionalist, try Pommery Brut Royal champagne for $14.99 (half bottle).

According to Collins, there's one big misconception when it comes to bubbly.

"That it's only for New Year's Eve," he said. "It's great any time, anywhere, with food, without food. Bubbly wine has a place every day. Any time you would drink wine, there's a bubbly that would be good. It's not just for celebrations."

Erick's Cheese and Wine (erickscheeseandwine.com) is located in the Grandfather Center at the intersection of Highway 105 and 184 near the Banner Elk ABC Store. Peabody's Wine and Beer Merchants (peabodyswineandbeer.com) is located at 1104 NC 105 in Boone.

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