December 27, 2010 | 3:02pm
Anyone who has searched the couch cushions for a handful of change knows that boozing on an extreme budget can be a risky proposition. To help you decide how to spend that meager pile of pennies, we've scraped the Bottom of the Barrel to review some of the cheapest swill on the market.
The Vintage: Verdi Spumante, ABV 5%
With New Year's right around the corner, it seemed like a good time to indulge in sparkling wine. Too bad we were duped into buying this "malt beverage with natural flavors" in lieu of you know, something made with actual grapes. Still, with a price point cheaper than most Cook's sparkling wine, we can overlook the fact that it has more in common with a Zima than a Zin.
(See, swirl, sniff, sip, and savor this bounty after the jump)
Appearance: Mostly clear and colorless. Without the characteristic yellowish tint that accompany most champagnes, it looks more like a sparkling mineral water than booze.
Bouquet: Regretfully, we've on the mend after catching a nasty bout of the -itis that's been spreading. Everything smells muted and faintly sickly. Or it could just be that in addition to looking like sparkling water, Verdi also smells like sparkling water, maybe with a dash of sickly sweetness.
Body: A hefty amount of carbonation tickles the tongue and gives this sparkler a bit of an acidic bite. It's not dry and the flavor is much sweeter than most champagnes. Almost cloying on its own, but it works well as a base for your bubbly cocktail of choice.
Finish: Light and refreshing, but a bit too sweet for solo consumption. Adding a splash of orange juice not only creates a great cocktail, but it also adds some much needed acidity.
Pairs with: Mixers and a fancy brunch spread. Or a couple of those leftover holiday cookies over breakfast. We won't tell.
Lasting impressions: Verdi is a sweeter alternative to cheap bubbly that lacks the slightly bitter bite of champagne. It may not be the best option for those that know and enjoy a glass of champagne, particularly if you're looking for more than sparkly sugar water. But if you're using it as a mixer or if this is your first New Year's rodeo, saddle up. You'll love the stuff.