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Bust Out the Bubbles

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Make the season sparkle with a glass of the good stuff“I drink Champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it—unless I’m thirsty.” —Madame Lily Bollinger

On average, just over 20 million bottles of Champagne are shipped to the United States annually, so apparently there are lots of bubbly fans who strongly agree with the effervescent Madame Bollinger. More sparkling wine is purchased during December than any other month (three times as much to be exact), and now is the perfect time to stock up as prices are quite attractive, especially on some of the top tête de cuvées. Here’s to a holiday season filled with joy, peace, happiness and a bounty of bubbles! See you in 2011.

Tête de Cuvée—
A Champagne house’s top tier; the crème de la crème.
Splurge: Salon Blanc de Blancs, $360; Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame, $190; Krug Grand Cuvée, $200
Save: Perrier-Jouët Fleur de Champagne, $120; Nicolas Feuillatte Palmes d’Or, $150; Deutz Cuvée William Deutz, $135

Vintage—
Made exclusively with grapes from one specified year
Splurge: Bollinger Grand Année, 1999 $130; GH Mumm Millesime 1999, $125; Taittinger Millesime 2002, $95
Save: Duval Leroy Brut 1996, $70; Louis Roederer Brut 2003, $75

Non-Vintage—
A blend of different years; typically, it is based on wine from a single year, then reserve wine is added to create a consistent house style
Splurge: Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut NV, $70; Pol Roger Brut NV, $53; Lanson Brut, $45
Save: Charles Heidsieck Monopole Brut, $39; Pommery Brut NV, $35; Henriot Blanc de Souverain NV, $39

Rosé—Made from either allowing the grape skin to come into contact with the grape must or by blending a little red wine, creating a pinkish hue
Splurge: Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé, $110; Delamotte Brut Rosé, $95; Taittinger Brut Rosé, $70
Save: Aubry Brut Rosé, $62; Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut Rosé, $25; Cristalino Brut Rosé, $10

Blanc de Blancs—Sparkling wine made from 100 percent white grapes, usually Chardonnay
Splurge: Ruinart Blanc de Blancs, $60; GH Mumm Cramant Blanc de Blancs, $70
Save: St. Hillaire Blanc de Blancs, $13; Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs, $32

Blanc de Noirs—Sparkling wine made from 100 percent black grapes, usually Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier
Splurge: Pommery Wintertime Blanc de Noirs Brut, $55; Mumm Cuvée M Red, $30
Save: Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs, $20; Domaine Chandon Blanc de Noirs, $22; Gruet Blanc de Noirs, $15

Sparkling Wine—Bubbly made anywhere (including Champagne, France)
Splurge: Schramsberg J Schram 2003, $90; Roederer Estate L’Ermitage 2002, $40; Mumm Napa DVX 2000, $50; Iron Horse Wedding Cake 2005, $30
Save: Scharffenberger Brut NV, $22; Capitello Brut NV, $25; Domaine Carneros Brut NV, $20; Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace, $22; Domaine St. Michelle Brut, $12; Charles Lafitte Brut, $11

Prosecco—Italy’s sparkling wine
Splurge: Santa Margherita Prosecco, $19; Flor Prosecco, $18
Save: Lamarca Prosecco, $16; Stellina di Notte, $11

Cava—Spain’s sparkling wine
Splurge: Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad, $23; Avinyo Brut Cava, $15
Save: Poema Brut Cava, $11; Segura Viudas, $10