It’s time to put a little sparkle in your life.
You know, welcome in the new year with a glass of wine that has lots of tiny bubbles in it.
Bubblies run the gamut in flavor, style, production method and origin. They don’t just come from France and California, and Larry Mawby in northern Michigan. You can choose a zesty Cava from Spain, a lighter-style Prosecco from Italy or even find a dandy label from New Mexico. If you check the aisles in wine departments — well, it’s daunting to say the least to make a single pick.
So to ease the task, we talked to key sales people at wine-buying destinations all over Metro Detroit for their best bet bubbly for less than $20.
Naturally, we started at that store in Warren that makes you think of bubblies, even though the “g” is missing from the name — Champane’s Wine Cellars.
But rest assured, this store is not named after that special region in France that started the whole sparkly thing. It’s the way the Champane family has spelled their name since setting foot on Ellis Island from Greece.
In all, we contacted 15 stores and there were some recurring wines — New Mexico’s Gruet drew three responses and Italy’s La Marca Prosecco was popular, along with California’s Piper Sonoma.
So here’s a toast — to all the wine merchants who let us in on their little secrets.
Champane’s Wine Cellars, Warren: Owner Dean Champane loves Laetitia Brut Rose from California so much he bought up all the inventory he could find in the state and knocked the price down from the usual $22 to a ridiculous $10. “It’s one of the most elegant rosés on the market. Some people think pink champagnes are sweet, but they are dry.” 7007 Chicago Road, Warren. (586) 978-9463
Merchant’s Fine Wine, Dearborn: Owner John Lossia recommends Rotari Brut, $12.99: “It’s Italian sparkling wine; it’s clean and crisp. A lot of inexpensive sparklers tend to be too fruity, sweet or bitter. This one is perfect for a Bellini or Mimosa cocktail or by itself.” 22250 Michigan Ave., Dearborn. (313) 563-8700
Discount Drinks, Wyandotte: Owner Patrick Hand recommends the Italian Prosecco Montesel, $18.99, from the Veneto region. “I like its refreshing light yeast, light tones of apple and pear, and it’s just off-dry style.” 2811 Fort St., Wyandotte. (734) 282-3800
Clover Leaf Fine Wine, Royal Oak: Manager Scott Collins taps Gruet Blanc de Noirs, $16. “Close your eyes and it tastes like French Champagne; it’s crisp, dry and refreshing, with no heaviness to it. We tell people it’s from New Mexico and they look at us, like what?” 7111 S. Main St., Royal Oak. (248) 357-0400
Gibbs World Wide Wines: Owner Larry Shade recommends Marques Gelida Brut Exclusive Reserva Cava, $14. “We’ve sold it for years. It’s a very French style, very toasty. It tastes like French Champagne. It’s imported by Jorge Ordonez Selections.” Ordonez is a premier dealer in Spanish wines. 22341 Moross Road, Detroit. (313) 886-0670
Joe’s Produce, Livonia: Wine associate Mason Grahl likes Gruet Brut, $18: “The man who founded it was from France; his daughter was going to school in New Mexico and he said he could grow wine there. I think if you are a Champagne person, this is a wonderful wine.” 33152 W. Seven Mile, Livonia. (248) 477-4333
Nino Salvaggio, Clinton Township: Jennifer Laurie, wine buyer for the store’s three locations, relies on Piper Sonoma Brut, on sale for $12.99, regular $16.99. “It has a little toasty quality, ripe round flavors, easy drinking. It is dry. I think it well over-delivers for the money. Piper is French owned and started out as a venture by Piper-Heidsieck. 17496 Hall Road, Clinton Township. (586) 412-6000
Ye Olde Wine Shoppe, Rochester Hills: Owner Denny Walsh recommends Chandon Blanc de Noirs, $15.99: “It has bright, lively flavors, a little touch of color. It’s a nice, soft, approachable bubbly that is dry but is not overwhelmingly austere.” Domaine Chandon is the first French-owned sparking wine producer in Napa Valley. 2044 South Blvd. W., Rochester Hills. (248) 852-5533
Westborn Market, Dearborn: Renee Parks, wine buyer for the store’s three locations, loves Italy’s La Marca Prosecco, $12.99, regularly $17.99. “It sells well on its own but this is an aggressive sale. It has a whisper of honeysuckle and melon notes; it’s refreshing, not too dry, not too sweet, not too yeasty, and very clean. 21755 Michigan Ave., Dearborn. (313) 274-6100
Woods Fine Wine, Grosse Pointe Woods: Owner Bill Matouk recommends Chandon Brut, $13.99: “This is the California property of Champagne’s Moet & Chandon. It has nice bright fruit, finishes dry, with a lot of flavor on the front end. It’s all-around nice and tasty.” 20787 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe Woods. (313) 882-5420
Cost Plus, Eastern Market, Detroit: Owner Dan McCarthy likes Gruet Blanc de Noirs, $14.99: “It has a super-clean finish.” This is the third vote for the winery in New Mexico that specializes in sparkling wine.” 2448 Market St., Detroit. (313) 259-3845
Holiday Market, Royal Oak: Wine director Brian Croze loves anything by Larry Mawby, especially the M. Lawrence “Detroit,” $13.99. “I like it for not only supporting something Michigan made but our city. It’s a great dessert bubbly.” 1203 S. Main St., Royal Oak. (248) 541-1414.
Papa Joe’s, Rochester Hills: Wine buyer Jon Patrus says his go-to bubbly is Segura Viudas, $8.99: “This Spanish Cava beats everything for its price category.” 6900 N. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills. (248) 853-6263
Market Square, Birmingham: Store manager and wine buyer Frank Bahri likes Italy’s La Marca Prosecco, $11.99: “It’s good, it’s smooth, not too dry, not too sweet; I sell a lot of it.” 1964 Southfield Road, Birmingham. (248) 644-4641
Plum Market, Ann Arbor: Wine buyer Rod Johnson is partial to Roederer Estate Brut from California, $19.97. “I’ve always thought they were one of the best houses in California, and the Brut is a good knockoff for a real Champagne. I am one of those people who says, yes, there is a difference between drinking French Champagne and other sparklers — to my way of thinking, it’s better.” Roederer Estate is produced by Champagne’s Louis Roederer in the cool-climate Anderson Valley. 375 N. Maple Road, Ann Arbor. (734) 827-5000.