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We Try Every Barefoot Bubbly

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We've talked a fair amount about what makes Champagne different from other sparkling wines (read the Serious Eats Guide to Sparkling Wine for more details). I've always learned there are two major differences between Champagne and other sparklers: the grapes are actually grown in the Champagne region of France and the wine is produced with the traditional m├ęthode champenoise, where the wine gets its sparkle from another fermentation in the very same bottle from which it is served. If it's not both of these, it ain't Champagne.

So I was surprised to see 5 out of 6 bottles of Barefoot bubbly say "Champagne" on the label—this stuff is made in California, and the bubbles arise via the charmat method—that is, in a large tank.

Labeling aside, though, we wondered if there were any good values to be found among the 7 dollar array of sparklers that Barefoot has to offer. We've tried their whites as well as the reds, so we completed the Barefoot journey with a toast (and six bottles of bubbly.) How'd they fare? Read on.

The Winner: Extra Dry Champagne

This sparkling white from California had a sweet scent that reminded us of peach candy, and the flavor echoed that scent. At first, there's a ton of tart green apple flavor, but it blends into sweeter kiwi notes as you swallow. This bubbly was smoother than the other options and had a clean, short finish. We found this affordable wine balanced enough to drink without food, but it would also taste great with a chicken dinner or just a snack of salty cheese and crackers.

How did this compare to other budget bubblies we've tried? If you're up for spending a little more (or drinking a little less), we'd go with any of our top picks in Cava, Prosecco, or Cremant. We'd probably also choose the slightly-more-interesting Yellow Tail white bubbly over this one.

Runner-Up: Pinot Grigio Champagne

True Champagne is made with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, but this California "Champagne" is made from Pinot Grigio. At first this bubbly struck us as a little astringent, but the scent still had a fruity undertone, with light fruit flavors of white grape and sweet vanilla on the finish. The fizz fills your mouth in the same way that, say, a lemon meringue pie would. The sweetness here might make this bottle a decent match for spicy take out (or delivery, if you're like me).

The Rest

If you're going with Barefoot, we'd recommend that you stick with the two choices above. here's how the others did. A few of them were just too sweet for us; your mileage may vary.

Do you buy Barefoot bubbly? Got a favorite bottle? Any other affordable sparkling wine to recommend instead? Let us know in the comments section!

About the author: Seema Gunda is an avid wine traveler, collector, and student with a background in chemistry and a day job in consulting.

Printed from http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2012/06/barefoot-bubbly-review-cheap-sparkling-wine-extra-dry-champagne.html

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