Cheap champagne is the best way to indulge one’s desire for quality consumables without squandering modest resources: this is a phenomenon more commonly known as having “champagne tastes but a beer budget”. But any gal can get a come-up and feel like her own incarnation of Gatsby with that electrifying pop of a cork and a burst of effervescent bubbles from a glass of sparkling wine: you’ve just got to accessorize. Here are my three favorite ways to go from cheap champagne, to chic champagne. (Elbow, elbow.)
Taste the rainbow, with sorbet: A scoop of lush frozen fruit puree makes champagne super chilly without watering it down and can be used to dial back the qualities that don’t suit your preferences. If your brut is brutally dry tasting, an oasis of rich orange, raspberry, or pineapple sorbet can bring blissful balance. A sparkling wine that’s too sweet, common among the more economical rosés, can be eased with a tangier treat like lemon or lime sorbet.
Juice head: Mimosas are a marvelous companion for Sunday brunch, but on a Friday night when you’re feeling frisky on a budget, ordinary OJ can feel a bit too ladylike and boring. Save the Sunny D for the kiddies, but reach for a carton of whatever other juice is hanging out in your fridge and you can create the kind of mimosa that feels a little more dressed up for the evening. A splash of an organic blueberry or pomegranate juice can turn your flute of fizz into an affair with more flair, like tasting a tailored tuxedo (not the rented kind, though). For a more buttoned down version, Minute Made’s line of juices were (minute) made for this kind of middle-class mixology: their Cherry Limeade and Pink Lemonade both turn your champagne a gloriously girly pink and make it taste how a pretty sundress feels!
Flirt with fruit: Berries are the best fruit to boost your bubbly. Cut strawberries longways into halves or quarters, depending on the size of the fruit and the flutes, while chilled raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries look charming tossed in whole. Grapes are also a great way to make the experience more elegant, cut them in half to release their flavor. In the autumn, an apple slice with a splash of cider is decadent and delicious. I’ve never experimented with pulpier garnishes, but it seems to me a slice of pineapple or few segments of mandarin orange might work out nicely too.
How do you like to take your champagne from dry to dazzling? What are your best tips for serving up a more glamorous glass of sparkling wine? — Casandra Armour