Break Out the Bubbly: Quality Champagne for under $40

What better way to celebrate the upcoming holidays than with a great Champagne?

Whether it’s a night out with the girls or a night in with your honey, we’ve got recommended bottles, all under $40, that will keep you celebrating long into spring.

With your ultra-sophisticated friends in town from L.A.:

Maggie Noonan, from WineStyles, recommends Simonsig’s Pinotage, Pinot Noir Sparkling Rosé an unusual sparkler; a South African Brut Rosé. A blend of Pinotage and Pinot Noir, this full-flavored, dry wine offers fresh aromas of red berries, roses and notes of orange peel which leads into lively bubbles then finishes long with more berry flavors and hints of minerality.  $26.99 at WineStyles, Evanston.

With your girlfriends, to spice things up at your annual cookie exchange:
Charlotte Belsan, operations manager at Knightsbridge Wine Shoppe, suggests Schramsberg’s Domestic White 2006 Vintage Blanc de Blanc. This choice (whose name means white from white) is quite dry, but nice and crisp, and made from Chardonnay. It has a vibrant, fruitful nature and will maintain its freshness for many years. $29.95 at Knightsbridge Wine Shoppe,  Northbrook.

With your book club, instead of serving Chardonnay for the 100th time:
Mary Ellen Hogan, owner of Urban Harvest and recent recipient of her sommelier diploma, raves about Gruet Brut. This sparkling wine hails from New Mexico, oddly enough, and is full of green apple and grapefruit flavors. It may be less common, but people who know bubbles know this bottle.  Under $20 at Urban Harvest, Arlington Heights.



With your honey when you’ve finally gotten the kids out of the house:
Theresa Lucas, owner of Good Grapes, recommends Michel Arnould & Fils Brut Grand Cru, a combination of reserved Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Soft fruits such as peach and apricot are accompanied by the lasting flavor of almonds and hazelnuts. Now it’s just time to cozy up in front of a fire. $39 at Good Grapes


With your relatives downtown before you head over to see “A Christmas Carol”:
Mohamed El Banna, Director of Food & Beverage for The Ritz-Carlton Chicago suggests Pio Cesare Moscato D’Asti DOCG 2009. Pio Cesare winery, located in Piedmont, has harvested grapes for their Moscato from a few select vineyards in the village of Treiso and Madonna di Como for over a hundred years. A semi-sweet sparkling wine, with flavors of honey, rich ripe fruit, aromatic on the palate, along with a frizzante finish. $28 at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago.

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