Under $20 Sparkling Showdown!
Moral of the Story
You don’t need to read the rest of this post if you follow this simple advice.
- You need chilled sparkling wine available at your house 24/7. Whenever guests arrive, open a bottle of sparkling wine to celebrate. Good day? Open some bubbly! Bad day? Some sparkling wine to salve the wounds. Get the picture?
- Sparkling wine doesn’t need to break the bank. There are lots of high quality sparkling wines available for under $20.
- Fun party idea: get your friends together to try a bunch of sparkling wines vying for the honor of being your “house bubbly”. Follow our approach or design your own.
- Our favorites are not your favorites. You’ll need to make up your own mind. Run your own competition/party/test!
Troy and Gina from our blind tasting group are looking for a “house” sparkling wine, so they suggested one of our meetings be a blind tasting of Under $20 Methode Champenoise sparkling wines. We’re all fans of sparkling wines and drink more than our fair share. Could we find some that rival Champagne? Of course, at <$20 we are unlikely to find any Champagne in our test. We would all bring our bottles wrapped in foil, mix them up, number them and evaluate. Everyone could score their own and we were sure there would be a few surprises. Sound good?
- Wines must be purchased locally and < $20 at retail (could be on sale)
- Must use Methode Champenoise. Sorry, Prosecco need not apply.
The Wines (after reveal)
- Berlucchi Cuvee 61 Brut $20
- Borgo Maragliano Chardonnay Brut (note, although 100% Chardonnay, this was Charmat Method) $15
- Roederer Estate Brut x2 $18 on sale
- 49M Cremant de Loire Brut (note, this is a wine made a local importer) x2 $17
- Laetitia Brut Cuvée $18 on sale
- Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut Rosé $18 on sale
Troy was super careful to ensure the test was double blind. The wines were all wrapped in foil, all markings including the plaquet de muselet were removed from the wines. All the wines were scrambled, then numbered. No one knew whose wine was being opened. Each person knew what 1-2 wines were, but not which one.
Troy also put together a scoring sheet. I liked having an area for text to write notes about each wine. For me, the numerical rating area didn’t help.
- Doubles – not one, but two sets of doubles. And no one guessed we were tasting the same wines twice. It’s harder than you think!
- No Cava. I guess our panel of experts didn’t think Cava had quite the appeal needed, Several of us have Cava’s we’d put into the competition, but no one did. Interesting.
Conclusions – Winner(s)!
- Katie nailed the Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut Rosé blind and it was her favorite.
- Troy, Gina and Nick all declared the Laetitia to be their favorite.
- I gave top billing to one of the bottles of Roederer Estate Brut, even though some folks gave it their bottom score. Who cares. Interestingly, I didn’t like the second bottle as much and we all felt the bottle variation between the two was noticeable.
- The point is, it’s your house, you decide which will be your house sparkler!
- There wasn’t a stinker in the bunch. All would be welcome with a group of friends.
- None of the wines rivaled a nice Champagne, sometimes you just need to spend the extra $$.
- For your everyday house sparkling wine, be sure to include variety, and get some Prosecco and some real, (dry) Lambrusco!
Minneapolis / St. Paul Sparkling Wine Shop
All our local wine shops have good sparkling wine selections with lots of choices priced under $20. My choice for the best selection in this category is Zipps Liquors. Erica, the wine buyer at Zipps has worked diligently to source really cool choices that almost anyone can afford.
Disclosure: Erica is in our tasting group; my opinion here is strictly from my experience as a paying customer.