You walk into your favorite bottle shop and all you know is that you need to buy some sparkling wine to take to a party. You don't want to look like a jerk bringing Tott's but you're also not prepared to drop 200 bucks on a bottle o' bub'. So if you're going to buy (relatively) cheap bubbly, which one's the best? To figure that out we assembled a panel of tasters who sipped and bickered and picked favorites from a group of 10 that all cost less than $30. The panel was composed of Alibi Food Editor Gwyneth Doland, Editorial Intern Laura Marrich, National Distributing's Ryan Twitchell and Bill Nolan of Bacchus/Wine Patrol/Southern Wines and Spirits along with Sam Etheridge and Jamal Davis of Ambrozia (Rio Grande and Central, 242-6560).
The tasting was held at Ambrozia and the wines (tasted blind) were provided by National and Bacchus/Wine Patrol/Southern. Chef Etheridge set out a tray of assorted cheeses with warm bread, mixed greens sprinkled with piñons and house-made duck bacon, baby clams in a succulent broth and an assortment of chocolate truffles.
To give you a good idea of what these wines are like, we took notes during our tasting. Here are some highlights of those notes, culled together Zagat Guide-style. To gauge pricing, we called around to several different wine shops in the city. Here we have listed the store offering the lowest price for each—although most of these are available at several different stores.