Champagne: Good, Better, Best Options with Kimber Stonehouse of Sportsman's

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Feel like popping some bubbly? (Hot tub not included.) There's no better excuse than New Year's eve to enjoy bubbles, but keep in mind not all Champagnes are created equal. In fact, some white bubbles are not even technically Champagne, they're sparkling wine. You don't have to be a sophisticated champagne drinker or a rapper with bottle service to know that there's a whole range of champagnes to savor. Here we break down the "good, better and best" options with help from Sportsman's Kimber Stonehouse.

See also: - Champagne Chef's Table Dinner at Café Zuzu - Turkey/Wine Pairings for Thanksgiving

It should be noted that Stonehouse really likes Champagne. " In my opinion, 'bubbles' are one of the best drinks we have as adults," she says. And it's true. What other alcoholic beverage can you get away with drinking before 11 a.m.? "When choosing your bubbles, it's important to think about the style you enjoy, not just the name brand." In other words, if you don't enjoy dry Champagne, don't splurge on an expensive bottle of dry Champagne; you will be disappointed.

By law the sweetness of a Champagne needs to be stated on the label and if you try a number of bubbles on the scale, you'll soon find one to suit you. The amount of sugar added after the second fermentation dictates the level of sweetness. Don't know what you like? Here's a rough guide, since it's really confusing that "extra dry" isn't terribly dry:

Brut Natural or Brut Zéro (less than 3 grams of sugar per litre) Extra Brut (less than 6 grams of sugar per litre) Brut (less than 12 grams of sugar per litre)

As you increase the sweetness, you next come to Extra-Sec, Extra Dry, Extra Seco (12 to 20 grams of sugar per litre) Dry, Sec, Seco (17-35 grams of sugar per litre) Demi-Sec, Semi-Seco (33-50 grams of sugar per litre) Doux (50+ grams of sugar per litre )

And, onto the recommendations.

The Good

If you like a drier style, Stonehouse suggests JCB Rosé and for a bit more fruit and sugar, you might try Stellina di Notte Prosecco. If you like it really sweet, then Moscato d'Asti Italian dessert wine is great if you're a fan of really sweet bubbles. " It's fruity, sweet, and just the hint of bubbles with a little frizzanté that just tickles across the tongue, says Stonehouse. " These are good bottles at about $15 - $20 on the shelf, and are fantastic 'bang for your buck!'"


New Year's might be the time that you look for something a bit more special. Sportman's has a few at a great price due to their "bubbles" sale happening now through the end of the year. "The Ruinart Blanc de Blancs and the Ruinart Rosé are both incredible bottles from Champagne, France." Both of these two Champagnes are elegant and are sale for $64.99 through December 31. "They are usually $90+ per bottle." says Stonehouse. Nothing makes a statement like a big bottle of bubbles and "the magnums of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs cost about $200 per bottle." The House of Ruinart, established in 1729, is the first established Champagne House.


If you'd like to channel your inner Kanye West there are a few options to consider. Stonehouse's personal favorite is the Pol Roger Cuvée "Sir Winston Churchill," which sets you back $275 per bottle but comes in a gift box, "and makes a statement from the minute you open the chilled bottle," says Stonehouse. "The aromas and lushness on the palate are sure to please the sophisticated Champagne drinker. It's toasty with a hint of acidity, and pairs well with any celebration or food."

The other option is Dom Perignon "Œnothèque," a special edition of Dom Perignon that Sportman's has one sale, though quantities are limited. "This is the only time I've ever seen this bottle on sale. It's regular price is more $500, but while supplies last, it's on sale $299.

So, wash those champagne flutes, find a designated driver and celebrate the New Year with bubbles.

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