Saturday, April 7, 2012

Four affordable mini-bottles of Sparkling (Champagne-style) Wine - under $5 each

Spring! Easter! Champagne! Bring it on! None of these four bottles are actually Champagne (which must come from the Champagne region of France), but they are sparkling wines that come in 187mL quarter-sized screwcap bottles, so buy several, take them everywhere, drink, and be merry! 

Freixenet "Cordon Negro" Brut Cava, $3 for 187mL bottle (click link for full review) 

This wine has beautiful aromas of bright lemon, slight apple, and honey. It has off-dry flavors of clean, crisp citrus that lean towards grapefruit and some light nuttiness. Medium body (12% alcohol), medium acidity, and medium finish. It’s hard to imagine anybody not liking this wine. If this wine were a car, it would be one of those “sporty” 2-door cars that are in-between economy and sports cars: cheap, straightforward, and fun. 
Bang for Your Buck Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (Round up to 8: "Very good. I will definitely buy another bottle.") 

Veuve du Vernay Brut, $5 for 187mL bottle (click link for full review)  

This wine has aromas of yeast, home-cooked bread, and apple. The yeasty smell may drive some people away at first, but the longer the glass sits out, the less pronounced the yeasty/bready aromas become and the more pronounced the apple becomes. It tastes like dense bread (the kind from a good bakery, not a loaf of white bread), a bit of nutty flavor, and a touch of apple. Light body (11% alcohol), very light acidity, and a solid medium finish. This is the most interesting, the most thought-provoking, most subtly beautiful of the four quarter bottles in this review. If this wine were a character in a 90’s teen sitcom, it would be the new kid who shows up to school that nobody likes because he is weird. He comes from France, but not Champagne. He has bubbles, but not from the traditional method. He smells more bready and yeasty than fruity. Nobody likes him at first. But then people start to realize that he is a great guy with a heart of gold. Not only that, he has an amazing hidden talent nobody knew about because nobody bothered asking. People learn to love him and vote him homecoming king. The show ends with a five-second freeze frame of the other kids raising him up on their shoulders. Hooray! 

Bang for Your Buck Rating: 7.0 out 10 (Good. I enjoyed it. Worth buying and drinking again.) 

Cavit Lunetta Prosecco, $4 for 187mL bottle (click link for full review) 
This particular Prosecco is the sweetest of the four mini bottles of sparkling wine I reviewed in this series. The first thing I noticed about it was all the bubbles – it had far more bubbles than the other three I reviewed, and they lasted forever! It has sweet scents of honey and tropical melon that could pass for a jolly rancher. The flavors are slightly sweet tropical flavors with a stale/yeasty aftertaste that doesn’t merge well with the sweet fruit flavors. It has low acidity, light body (11% alcohol), and a short finish. If this wine were a person, it would a nice but unmemorable first date. She seems pleasant and sweet at first, but once you get to know her just a little better, you quickly find that she’s a bit mixed-up and confused, and not really your type. She’s still sweet, and you know some guy out there will go crazy for her, but that guy is not you. At the end of the date you thank her for a nice evening, wish her all the best, and go your separate ways. 
Bang for Your Buck Rating: 5.5 out of 10 (Round up to a "6" rating: Better than average, but I probably won't buy this bottle again. 

Francis Ford Coppola "Sofia" Blanc de Blancs, $4 for a 187mL can (yes, a can!) (click link for full review) 
The fact that it comes in a can with a straw attached is the best thing about this wine. The wine's flavors are tropical lemon and maybe melon with a strong sour aftertaste. The bubbles are plentiful, and it's a decent drink for a warm evening when portability is key and flavor is only a minor consideration. If this wine were a person, it would be a person that shows up to a party at your house dressed like 80's rapper Flavor Flav: at first you think, "this is going to be awesome," but after you get to know the guy and learn that he is actually awkward and no fun, you realize that the idea is far cooler than the reality. You are glad when he leaves, but hope to meet someone who can pull off the crazy outfit and personality someday. A+ for the idea... not so much for the execution. 
Bang for Your Buck Rating: 4.5 out of 10 (Rounds up to 5: "The median. Not memorable, but not bad, either. It's wine. Finish the bottle.") 

Have you tried any of these wines? What did you think? Know of another good, small bottle of sparkling wine? Leave a comment below!

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