As the chill of December descends upon us, we know the holidays have arrived. And the holidays without bubbles are like Christmas trees without lights.
So here are three shops across the city putting on the best gratis sparkling tastings this month. Pay close attention to their staff picks for sleeper sparklers, which I defined as an under $25, champagne alternative, made in the méthode traditionnelle (the same way as champagne).
Flatiron Wines and Spirits
All month, Flatiron will be focusing on champagne and sparkling wines every Friday night from 5 to 8 p.m. This Friday, December 7, they’re showcasing a grower champagne — the big trend out of the region the past few years. This is definitely a tasting to hit if you haven’t had a chance to sample this category of champagne (wines made by the growers of the grapes, rather than the big houses or brands).
Sleeper Pick: Domaine Belluard et Fils, Ayse Méthode Traditionnelle, Vin de Savoie, $22.99. “This is a delicious, natural, and unique sparkling wine from the Savoie region of France that is made entirely from an obscure grape called Gringet.” 929 Broadway, 212-477-1315
Astor Wine and Spirits
This comprehensive shop is offering the following impressive line-up of tastings:
December 7, 6 to 8 p.m.: Sparkles by André Clouet
December 12, 6 to 8 p.m.: A taste of the Belle Epoque (a rare chance to taste Perrier-Jouët “Belle Epoque” Champagne 2004)
December 27, 6 to 8 p.m.: A selection of four grower-producer champagnes
December 28, 6 to 8 p.m.: champagnes of Terry Theise Selections
Sleeper Pick: Champ Divin “Champ d’Étoiles” Crémant du Jura, 2009, $21.96. “A blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this pale copper sparkler is dry, with notes of pear cider, seaside beaches and pale sand; the texture is light, clean with just enough body. Classic méthode champenoise means structured complexity.” 399 Lafayette Street, 212-674-7500
Union Square Wines
Known for the generous tastings, USQ Wines will justify its reputation with a big, boozy holiday party on Saturday, December 8, from 2 to 5 p.m. With at least two dozen bottles of sparkling wine popped, you can expect a little of everything including grower champagnes, Spanish Cava, and Italian Lambruscos.
Sleeper Pick: Domaine Tissot, Cremant du Jura Extra Brut, $20. “A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Poulsard, and Trousseau, this has a bright, saline, and subtle biscuit quality that you find in better champagnes, at only $20 per bottle.” 140 Fourth Avenue, 212-675-8100