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Enjoy the bubbles in your glass

The sound of corks popping is traditional with holidays and special occasions. But new brands have changed the perception of these products. Domestic sparklers, Cava, and especially Prosecco, have increased the use of these bubbly products throughout the year.

Prosecco, an Italian sparkler, began increasing in popularity during our recent recession. The affordable price point and fruit forward appeal have made this product a favorite for cocktail mixing, fruit-infusing and even food pairing. Prosecco sales have increased over the last decade and have come to surpass champagne sales here at Friendly Discount Liquors. A few of our favorite recommendations are Zenato, Zonin and Mionetto- all under $15.

Cava, which is made in the traditional champenoise method in Spain, has also seen an increase in popularity over the last several years. Clean, crisp and flavorful brands such as Freixenet and Segura Viudas have seen a healthy sales growth and again are under the $15 price point. Cava, also a favorite with food pairing and cocktail mixing is popular on its own or as a bubbly topping for popular cocktails.

American sparkling wines, many owned by the big champagne houses of France, are a great option for consumers looking for quality and exceptional flavors in the $20 price point. These vineyards, primarily in northern California have been maturing for decades to produce great fruit. When you put quality grapes in the hand of experienced wine makers, trained by French champagne houses- the price to quality ratio is huge. Some popular names to look for are Domaine Chandon or Mumm Napa. Other popular sparkling wines from the United States are Westport Vineyards from Westport, MA, Chateau St. Michelle from Washington State, or even Gruet from New Mexico. All are worth a try and sure to please.

Champagne from the designated region of France has also seen a steady increase in sales over the last few years. While Champagne has not recovered in sales since its high point in 2006, the recent increase in sales does show a willingness of the consumer to return to prestige labels. Top brands such as Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Nicolas Feuillatte or Charles Heidsieck, among others, are exceptional products ranging in price points from the high $30s and up.

This time of year when customers come into the store to make their annual purchase of something with bubbles, my advice to them is to move up in price point to at least the $10 and above category. The options and overall quality increase considerably. Whether it be Prosecco, Cava, Sparkling wine or even Champagne. Finding a product that suits your palate has indeed become “Friendlier”- pun intended.

Bill Giannopolous is the owner of Friendly Discount Liquors in Whitinsville.