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Good bubbly that's good for your wallet, too

Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking for a festive drink to ring in the new year? Champagne can be pretty pricey because it's from France. But we found some budget friendly sparkling wines.

Consumer Reports just looked at sparkling wines -- with and without the French pedigree -- to see if you can indulge without splurging at the register.

When it comes to sparkling wines, turns out there's cause for celebration.

Wine experts at Consumer Reports tested 11 sparkling wines costing anywhere from $5 to $37.

"If you want to find a good sparkling wine that's not that expensive, there are plenty of choices," Consumer Reports' Adam Kaplan said.

In fact, Consumer Reports says that when it comes to sparkling wine, a higher price doesn't necessarily mean higher quality. Four of the wines tested -- including a $30 bottle of Piper Heidsieck, a French champagne -- weren't even good enough to make Consumer Reports' initial cut.

"They were OK, but they had some off-notes, so we concentrated on some of the better wines in our tests," Kaplan said.

After swirling, sniffing and sipping, three were named Consumer Reports best buys.

Among them this Blanc de Noirs from Gloria Ferrer, a California vintner. It was smooth, with hints of ripe fruit, and costs just $16 a bottle.

And for $14, a Gruet Blanc de Noirs from New Mexico rated even higher. It combines slightly yeasty flavors and a nice mix of tropical fruit, apple, and pear.

"For sparkling wines, which can be kind of expensive, these were a great combination of both price and quality," Kaplan said.

So go ahead, enjoy some bubbly at your next dinner party.

When drinking a sparkling wine, Consumer Reports says to pay attention to how it feels in your mouth. Better quality sparkling wines will have nice, fine bubbles --- as opposed to the larger, course bubbles in seltzer water.

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