“Champagne for my real friends, and real pain for my sham friends.” – Sir Winston Churchill (maybe)

There is nothing quite like sparkling wine. Notice the usage of the phrase “sparkling wine,” as opposed to the word Champagne. The French, and especially the folks in Champagne, are very particular about the usage of the word Champagne. As they are very quick to tell us, <imagine a strong French accent here> “One may only call it CHAMPAGNE if it comes from the Champagne region of France.”

The rest of the world uses the word Champagne much like we use the words Coke, Band-Aid, Kleenex, ChapStick, Google, Jell-O, or Xerox. The internet calls the word “genericization.” For example, when we order a Coke in the South we are often asked to specify which beverage we seek. But there is only one Coke. Same thing with Champagne. We often ask for Champagne but we really just mean a Sparkling wine.

The usage of the word Champagne to restricted by a European Union law known as Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) or Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP) as the French would prefer. This means that other sparkling wines may not, legally, be referred to as Champagne. The Italians have Prosecco, the Spanish have Cava, and the list goes on.

When someone asks for a bottle of Champagne, we first inquire about a budget. Real Champagne starts around $40 and can go well above $1,000. As often as not, folks just are seeking a sparkling wine. But… some occasions merit a true, real, wonderful bottle of the original bubbly. Some occasions call for Champagne.

We advocate Champagne as often as you can manage it, but we are quick to suggest a Cava, Prosecco, or a sparkling wine from the good old U. S. of A. There ain’t nothing quite like hearing a celebratory pop (or gentle shush) from a bottle of Champagne when you are living the good life.

Here is a list of bubblies we recommend, hopefully something for any budget. And don’t worry these are among the very best options we’ve found for their respective prices.

Italian Prosecco – Ostro Brut, DOC

We love this one because it is a great DRY Prosecco. Some Prosecchi (the correct Italian plural for Prosecco) can be unnecessarily sweet. But this Ostro is not only dry (only four grams per liter of sugar) it is also excellent.

Spanish Cava – Naveran Brut, DO

Cava is made in the same method as the originators in Champagne, but with different grapes. Cava is our favorite option for a good Mimosa. Grab some Natalie’s orange jucie and mix with this certified organic Cava to have the best beverage on Saturday or Sunday morning.

American Sparkling – Schramsberg or Mirabelle

These are the true “original” American bubblies. Schramsberg has been served in the White House for most every State function since the Nixon administration showed it off in 1972. Mirabelle is Schramsberg’s “little brother” and likely the best domestic bubbly for the money.


From one of the oldest houses in all of Champagne, this is a knockout. You may not be familiar with this one, but it has been incredibly popular when tasted “blind” against some of the usual suspects. This is your real deal Champagne. It will impress you as well as your guests.

Grand Marque Champagne – Sir Winston Churchill from Pol Roger

Again, this might not be as well known, but this is *the* Champagne to get if you could only have one. Sir Winston Churchill knew his booze, and this is a legendary bottle befitting a legendary person.