We're just days away from New Year's Eve, which means that amateurs across the planet will be imbibing far more booze than they're accustomed to, and more likely than not, the intoxicating mixture will include a bunch of bubbly. Here's why it should be a cheap bottle of prosecco and nothing else.
Seeing the light at the end of the Andre
For years, if I wanted to drink "champagne" I just bought Andre because for the little money I had, I could buy a crap ton of it. A bottle of this California sparkling wine costs less than $US5 most of the time, so when you're at the register, it feels like you almost can't regret it.
This is very wrong. Andre tastes terrible if you are anywhere north of completely blacked out. And even if you are too drunk to regret your Andre purchase when you're drinking it, the next day, YOU WILL REGRET THE ANDRE. He's like the annoying friend who's fun to hang out with until he's on your couch for 24 hours. Except that it's you on the couch, and your friend Andre is inside you head playing air hockey.
I admit that I didn't start drinking prosecco of my own accord, but instead because had this girlfriend with refined tastes who introduced me. We would drink it in the park on sunny weekends and to my surprise, prosecco was enjoyable, affordable, and didn't make me want to kill myself.
Stopping short of champagne
Though a critic will bristle at the over simplification, prosecco is basically just Italy's version of the pretentious French fizzy stuff. It differs from champagne in a few important ways, according to this informative article published at Fox News:
- Region: Champagne is native to the Champagne region in northeast France, whereas prosecco comes from the Veneto region of northeast Italy.
- Grapes: Champagne is made from a combination of chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier grapes. Prosecco is made from glera grapes.
- Fermentation: Champagne is made by a traditional dual fermentation method. After making wine from the grapes, you then add a little more yeast to the final bottle, which gives it its fizziness. Prosecco on the other hand, undergoes secondary fermentation before bottling.
- Taste: As a result of the above differences, the two beverages have different flavour. From the aforementioned article:
Prosecco is generally characterised by notes of green apples, citrus and white flowers that are usually light and delicate and not exceedingly complex. Some prosecco even borders on sweet, or what's known as off-dry. Champagne, on the other hand, has added complexity, due in part to additional time spent in contact with dead yeast cells during secondary fermentation.
These yeast cells give it a toasted brioche, yeasty bread dough or biscuit taste, in addition to fruit and other flavours, which can vary depending on the proportion of grapes used and can include — but is not limited to — citrus, apple, peach, honey, white flowers, cherry and raspberry.
Save a bunch of money
Both good champagne and good prosecoo are delicious varieties of flavour experience. Champagne is just way more expensive. Take roughly equivalent bottles of champagne and prosecco and you're going to pay way more for the champagne. For example, you can get a 90-point prosecco for $US11! What does $US11 get you in real champagne made in France? Nothing.
All of which is a long way of saying that if you want to get your money's worth for something of quality that you won't feel shitty about in the moment — or the next morning — go get a $US10-$US15 bottle of prosecco. Leave the Andre for the college kids, and save the champagne for the guy with an expense account.
And really, any champagne alternative will do
OK, so I've been focusing mostly on prosecco here because I personally love it, but basically you are going to get more bang for your buck with anything besides French stuff. Cava, for instance, is the Spanish version of bubbles made with Spanish grapes. There is some quality stuff for cheap. And even American sparkling wines have their moments: high-ratings for good prices, even if they lack the grave traditions of the European varieties.
New Years is a lovely holiday in which we get to celebrate the year past with great excess. This year resolve to keeping that excess tot he parts of your life that matter. Spend that cash wisely, friends. Salute!