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Bubbles For Your Troubles

An air of extravagance and glamour surround Champagne and sparkling wines. The bubbles go straight to your head and make you smile like no other libation. It's no wonder they are the choice to ring in the New Year, and even better that these luxuries can be had at an affordable price.

If you want to stick with the tried and true, Champagne Trouillard ($18.00 at PlumpJack Wines, 4011 24th Street in Noe Valley) is a classic that will fit almost any budget. Dry and lightly creamy with a hint of fresh baked bread and cinnamon, it'll kick off the evening just right.

Another option from France is the widely available Domaine J. Laurens Blanc de Blanc ($12.00 at Amphora, 384 Hayes Street in Hayes Valley). Not technically Champagne, there are few who would ever know the difference. Dry and smooth with a green apple taste and a light toasted almond finish.

There are also a number of domestic sparkling wines made with the methode champenoise that hold their own against those from France. Domaine Carneros 2000 Brut ($16.00 at Coit Liquor, 585 Columbus in North Beach) is a great example. Compared to its French counterparts, the fruit is more pronounced with flavors of pineapple and mango, and a higher acidity gives it a bright tingle on your tongue.

And for something a bit different, a fun, whimsical version of sparkling comes from Veneto. Bele Casel Prosecco ($15.00 at Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, Ferry Plaza Marketplace shop #23) has just a hint of residual sugar to bring out floral and bitter almond characteristics. With a marzipan finish, it makes a wonderful aperitif or companion to dessert.

With so many options you might even consider popping the cork a bit more frequently. Who couldn't use more glamour in their lives?

Vineyards Genevieve Robertson can be reached at by_the_glass@hotmail.com