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10 Great Bubbly Bargains for New Year’s Eve – All Under $30

December 30, 2009
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This cremant from Burgundy is French, eminently drinkable, and $10 at Trader Joe's.

This cremant from Burgundy is French, eminently drinkable, and $10 at Trader Joe’s.

On the whole, I think 2009 will be remembered as the year of moderation. Nearly everyone is looking for ways to be smarter about how they spend their money. While champagne and sparkling wines seem like a luxury — and they are a luxurious experience — they don’t have to come with a high price tag. One of the most useful features of my book The Bubbly Bar is a guide to buying bubbly in every price range. Since I wrote the book, I’ve continued to discover affordable sparkling wines that are great for sipping alone or in cocktails. Here’s my list of bargain bubbly available nationwide for New Year’s Eve 2010.

1. Michel Dervin Brut Champagne – crafted by a small grower in Champagne, this is toasty just the way you want, about $29.99
2. Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut or Extra Dry – made just outside Seattle, these wines are fresh and easy to like, about $8.99
3. Juve y Camps Reserva de la Familia Cava Brut Nature – an elegant and delicate mouthful, about $15
4. Blason de Bourgogne – a sparkling wine from Burgundy, made especially for Trader Joes available in brut and a brut rosé, about $10 – At Trader Joe’s
5. Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs – crafted from pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, a satisfying bubbly with a hint of richness, about $17

The Domaine Carernos Brut is a perfect marriage of California and France, with its fresh fruit balanced by toastiness.

The Domaine Carernos Brut is a perfect marriage of California and France, with its fresh fruit balanced by toastiness.

6. Domaine Carneros Brut – fresh and toasty, a marriage of California and France, about $24
7. Roederer Estate Brut – crisp green apple abounds, about $19
8. Mionetto Prosecco Brut – fresh green pear and soft bubbles, about $14
9. Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rosé – sophisticated and juicy with pinot noir, about $20
10. Domaine Chandon Brut Classic – a bright and bubbly wine, always a classic about $15

Shopping

Get Crystallized and Bubblified in NYC

July 21, 2009
The Crystallized boutique in Soho features oodles of Swarovski crystals, a stunning waterfall chandelier and a lounge serving champagne and food. (Courtesy Photo)

The new Crystallized boutique in Soho features oodles of Swarovski crystals, a stunning waterfall chandelier and a lounge serving champagne, prosecco and upscale food. (Courtesy Photo)

I’m always on the look out for sparkling new ideas and beautiful places to enjoy bubbly. So I was enchanted to learn about Crystallized, the new high-concept Swarovski jewelry  boutique that opened in late June in New York City.  The legendary Austrian company known for precision-cut crystals has several boutiques around the world and now there’s one at 499 Broadway in Soho.

Besides the truckloads of sparkly stones and baubles, Crystallized also boasts a lounge serving four kinds of sparkling wine and champagne:  Adami Prosecco, Nicolas Feuillatte Brut and Moet & Chandon’s Brut Imperial and Brut Rosé Imperial. I haven’t seen the whole upscale food menu yet, but I heard about a coulibiac of salmon in puff pastry that would be complemented by the Brut Rosé Imperial and I’m sure they’re serving french fries which are fabulous with anything that sparkles.

The all-white space features a stunning  crystal Cascade chandelier created by Belgian architect Vincent Van Duysen that illuminates the boutique’s two levels. Yards of display cases show off Swarovski bi-cone and round faceted crystals and pendants like the Lotus in colors ranging from crystal aurora borealis to black diamond (yes, I make jewelry too); shoppers can buy stones to make their own creations or have them assembled at Crystallized. They also sell all kinds of crystal accessories like an almost-practical blinged-out USB thumb drive for $55; jewelry like the Divine Rock Light necklace that raises money for clean-water projects and transfers to make sparkly T-shirts.

The new short sleeve Bubbly Girl T-shirt in berry pink is great for yoga, sleeping or wearing out with jeans.

The new short sleeve Bubbly Girl T-shirt in pretty berry pink is great for yoga, sleeping or wearing out with jeans. (Photo by Maria C. Hunt)

Speaking of T-shirts, it’s a perfect time to mention that the new summer Bubbly Girl T-Shirts with short sleeves  in a delicious shade of raspberry pink are now available in my online boutique. This shade seems to flatter every skin tone and the 100% cotton T-shirt emblazoned with a Swarovski crystal champagne flute and the words “bubbly girl” let you make a chic statement without even saying a word.

Shopping

The Scent of Champagne: 6 Luxury Candles to Go to Your Head

March 30, 2009
The Celebration Candle created by high end NYC floral designer Belle Fleur smells just like a toasty glass of champagne with a hint of lily of the valley.
The Celebration Candle created by high end NYC floral designer Belle Fleur smells just                       like a toasty glass of champagne softened with a hint of lily of the valley.

 

I thought it was just me, since I have a heightened awareness to anything that has to do with champagne. But the latest luxury candle and home fragrance trend is filling the air with the alluring scent of champagne.

The first I noticed was Crisp Champagne by Voluspa, a subtly fresh candle mixed with the scent of ginger and vanilla. It’s pleasant and reasonably priced at around $22 for the full-size, 80-hour candle while votives are just $7.

The Voluspa Crisp Champagne Candle offers a bright, fresh scent tempered with ginger and vanilla.

The Voluspa Crisp Champagne Candle offers a bright, fresh scent tempered with ginger and vanilla.

More recently, I discovered the super luxurious Belle Fleur Celebration Candle, shown at top, created by a floral and event designer in NYC. It goes straight for the toasty, bready aromas that greet your nose when you drink champagne, tempered with a hint of lily of the valley. Bready and toasty make me think of being in a bakery, but the owner of the high end candle shop where I discovered the Belle Fleur candle swears it’s worth the $88 price tag.

Looking further, I found the Bubbly Candle by Flare; this clean-burning soy-based candle that sells for about $24 mixes champagne’s scent the grapey, fruity fragrance of Italian muscat grapes (they’re what make the sparkling wine moscato). Neiman Marcus promises to tickle your note with notes of citrus, ginger and raspberry in their Penthouse Champagne candle, offered at $55. And Nordstrom’s is carrying the Antica Farmacista Champagne Candle; it’s a 25-year-old Italian brand recently revived by a couple of savvy American business women. This $38 candle offers an exuberant burst of fruit and flowers including satsuma mandarin, apricot, lily of the valley and passion fruit.

The l'objet Pink Champagne candles from Unica Home.com arrive in Limoges porcelain vessels adorned with 14K gold and platinum.

The $85 l'objet Pink Champagne candles from Unica Home.com arrive in Limoges porcelain vessels adorned with 14K gold or platinum and tiny figurines.

The hip site Unica Home.com is offering the l’objet Pink Champagne Candle that captures the scent of rosé and comes in a white Limoges porcelain vessel edged in 14K gold or platinum and adorned with a tiny figurines like a butterfly, dragon or golden elephant. It’s awfully pretty, but then again, for $85, I might rather be popping the cork on a bottle of Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé champagne.

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