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'Tis the season...for cheap "champagne".

Sorry to be so déclassé, but I need to buy a lot of cheap champagne. My choices are Cooks, Freixenet, or Robert Mondavi Woodbridge. If some of you have any experience with these, I would greatly appreciate your ratings of these choices at your earliest convenience.



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  1. I'm a fan of J. Roget Brut, from upstate NY. Many years ago some hoyty toyty friends of ours from Yale turned us on to this (he is originally from Rochester though), and we've been buying a case or two around the holidays ever since. It makes a nice light cocktail or dinner wine. I've always preferred it to the California champagnoises.

    1. Is there any way you could taste all three, first?

      1. Of these, and the below recommended J Roget (which we used to drink in college at 3 for $10), I think the Freixenet is the best all around for drinking by itself, although around here it's usually twice the price of the others. For that same price, I've also always enjoyed Mionetto (a prosecco).

        For cocktails, any of these are fine (I cycle through depending on what is cheapest)

        1. I have used Freixenet for my Christmas mimosas for years, and I love it, I think it makes an excellent mimosa, provided that you use a better OJ. I have also drunk it straight and it was Ok.

          My parents stocked their parties with Cook's for years, but I really can't abide it anymore, perhaps I *may* have overindulged though :)

          1. Are you planning on drinking these "straight" or mixed into a cocktail (Mimosa?) or punch? It honestly makes a difference.

            If you're going to drink it AS a sparkling wine, I'd go with a cava, like the Freixenet. If you are making mimosas, etc., I'd go with the Cook's.

            2 Replies
            1. re: zin1953

              How about Andre's--cost less than $10.oo per bottle -- could feed a large crowd!

              1. re: roro808

                Because you don't want it to taste bad . . .

            2. Hands down. The best "cheap champagne" is from New Mexico. I know, right? I've been drinking it for many years as my mother lives in NM. The winery is Gruet. My favorite is the Brut. Try it....I actually think it's almost to good to adulterate with OJ for mimosas!

              9 Replies
              1. re: pagesinthesun

                While I personally agree re: Gruet -- it is MY "go-to" domestic sparkler for large gatherings, the OP specifically mentioned Cook's and Woodbridge. Cook's is on sale for $5.49, but quotes $9.99 suggested retail. Woodbridge is slightly more on the shelf, but it, too, quotes a $9.99 retail. Freixenet is on sale for $8.99. Gruet, on the other hand, is $14.99 -- it's at a different price point, and since the OP's stated mission is to buy a lot of cheap champagne, to *MY* mind, Gruet doesn't fit the bill, despite its high QPR.

                1. re: pagesinthesun

                  I agree about the Gruet, but it does cost more than the others. I get it for $11.99 @ WineLibrary.com, but OP doesn't say where (s)he is buying this.

                  Personally, I dislike Freixenet, altho in general I like Cava quite a lot for inexpensive bubbly. Either Cordoniu or Segura Viudas are miles tastier imho.

                  Cooks is quite fine for Mimosas and Kir Royales, but not so much for on its own. and Andre? Well, if you like soap suds flavor in your sparkling wine.........

                  1. re: ChefJune

                    "Cordoniu or Segura Viudas are miles tastier imho"

                    At around twice the price Segura Viudas should be miles tastier.

                    1. re: FrankJBN

                      Segura Viudas is only $1 more in my market. but I would not buy Freixenet at any price. I'd rather drink lemon juice.

                      1. re: ChefJune

                        Not sure about the price differential anymore, but I agree that Sigura is a better choice (if available).

                  2. re: pagesinthesun

                    While I agree that Gruet is excellent for the money, that is a much higher price point. However, If you can get me Gruet at 2 for $10, I'd like a case please.

                    1. re: pagesinthesun

                      As I write this I am drinking a glass if pink New Mexico "champagne" - actually quite nice - better than anything on the original poster's list. In my fridge I also have a bottle of Domaine Chandon - qualifies as cheap now for around $7. And also chilling is a bottle of 1995 Dom Perignon - not sure if that is the best vintage year to store for so long.

                        1. re: pagesinthesun

                          Gruet IS a very good "domestic" producer, but JoeBob is in Hawai`i, so the selections might well be limited.

                        2. mmm... you don't say who you're buying it for. I was going to argue against cheap champagne, but it seems many people don't mind....drink enough of it and you'll never indulge again.(read: pop-skull) You dirty dog ! You're keeping the Veuve Clicquot for your self ?! i hope ?

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: 3MTA3

                            Besides, after all the appetizers and several glasses of these cheapos, one never knows the difference, YES?

                            1. re: roro808

                              Dunno 'bout you . . . I *always* know the difference!

                              1. re: zin1953

                                OK--serve the better ones on the first round, then the cheapos the rest of the night....

                                1. re: roro808

                                  Why would you do that? Or, rather, *I* would NEVER do that ...

                                  1. re: zin1953

                                    Correct!! Of course I would not think of doing that to close circle of friends, but seems the OP was planning to cater to a crowd of people with cheap champagne.

                            2. First & foremost - FORGET Cooks - it's AWFUL!!!!

                              I vote for Freixenet Brut. In fact, I just bought a few bottles to have on hand in the fridge for impromptu holiday enjoyment. Quite decent.

                              Have never had Mondavi's Woodbridge sparkler, so can't help you with that one.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Bacardi1

                                Agreed, this is why my disclaimer re: mixing it. If anyone is going to drink Cook's straight, you're better off with water!

                                1. THANKS ALL!

                                  This has been a thoroughly informative and enjoyable thread. I will go with the Freixenet.

                                  ALL HAIL COLLECTIVE WISDOM! And THANKS AGAIN.


                                  1. IMO rubbery, tasteless cava is only OK if you're not drinking it "net."

                                    I was going to say "Argyle" but I see that in my more than a decade away from working with American wines, many have finally discovered that Oregon might be the best place to make sparkling wines in North America.

                                    Here in France if you don't want to pay the tarif for real Champagne, Crémants are a good choice (half the bubbles).

                                    Crémants from Alsace and Burgundy (Bourgogne) merit your attention.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: collioure

                                      Yes, they too can be good, but not so easy to find (read impossible) here in paradise (Hawai'i). But we can still get Veuve Cliquot and Dom Perignon when we "need" it.

                                      1. re: Joebob


                                        Sorry so late to the party.

                                        How much sparkler do you need, and what is necessary price-point?

                                        You have two Costcos near you, and IIRC, they each have a fair list of sparklers.

                                        From what I recall, I would go with the Veuve Yellow Label, if that is not too far above the desired prices.



                                        [Edit] I had no idea HOW late to the party I was. Hope that the event, last year, went well. Duh!

                                      2. re: collioure

                                        In the US, the OP will still spend well north of $10 a bottle, even for cremants...which was not his/her price point.

                                        A few years ago, we bought a lovely Loire cremant for $13 a bottle - and it was good enough to quaff straight....but it's twice the price (or nearly so) of Cook's or Freixenet.

                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                          Here's a warning against the Cremant they are currently selling at Whole foods for about $14. Blah...get the Gruet instead or the Cristalino.

                                      3. No, wait!!! Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut. A little less than $10 bucks. Awesome!!!


                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: chloebell

                                          We prefer their sparkling rose' and WAY less than $10 when Safeway has 30% off and 10% more for a mixed case. We've gotten it for around $6.

                                          Also, just had the Gruet sparkling rose' yesterday and really,, really liked it. Restaurant price was $32 and I see from their website about $16. Will be checking locally.

                                        2. How has no one mentioned Chateau Ste. Michelle Sparklers. They are $7.99 on sale and much better. I would hope you can spend an extra $2 per bottle.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: wineglas1

                                            Presumably because the OP is in Hawaii, with limited selection.
                                            Were he on the mainland, I would have spouted forth with Gruet, Mumm Brut Prestige at $11 on sale currently, and all sorts of other tasty inexpensive sparklers. But that's not the case, not the case of bubbly, here.

                                          2. I can't *stand* Cooks - far too sweet for my taste; I've never tried the Mondavi, so I can't comment. My mom's go-to was always Freixenet (or, as she called it, "Fishnet"), and I still like it for mixing. (Straight up, I refuse to go cheap: cheap sparkling wine gives me the vilest of hangovers.)

                                            10 Replies
                                            1. re: webgeekstress

                                              I agree with you o not going cheap for straight-up toasting, webgeek.

                                              last night, sadly, the midnight pour was a bottle of Mumm's Napa Cuvee...yes, a California sparkler. (and unfortunately not cheap -- brought proudly by British friends who had no doubt parted with a tidy sum to buy it....)

                                              It's no wonder Americans think they don't like Champagne -- this stuff was nasty -- one-note, over-oaked (like being bashed with a 2x4), and far, far too dry to be a sparkler (and I choose Extra Brut when left to my own devices....)

                                              Next year, we'll bring a few bottles of good bubbles, whether it's Champagne or Cremant.

                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                <<It's no wonder Americans think they don't like Champagne>>'

                                                Um, we don't think that. No one ever I have ever met ever ever thinks that.

                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                  an awful lot of times (my own wedding, many NYE celebrations over the years, my own graduations) a lot of people refuse the sparklers because it's too sweet, it gives me a headache, etc.,e tc., etc.

                                                  I misspoke -- not liking Champagne isn't all that common -- but an awful lot of folks have never had *Champagne*, and think that *Champagne* tastes like the awful bubbly substitutes that they've been given at special events.

                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                    Yes, I refer to to the same thing as the lumpfish fallacy. People say they don't like caviar when they've never had the real thing -- they've been eating cheap lumpfish eggs and saying they don't like "caviar."

                                                    All I gotta say, is nothing, nothing, nothing, is like Champagne.

                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                      I agree -- when we were in Florida, the wine shop I frequented said we were the only clients he had who would open a bottle of Champagne just because -- all his other clients stringently kept it for special occasions.

                                                      Sad, because a decent bottle of something sparkly (including a cremant in stingy months) can MAKE a crappy day a special occasion.

                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                        Two different things:

                                                        a) it IS true that most Americans still reserve sparkling wines -- regardless of the method of production -- for "a special occasion." So if you were the only customers that would open a bottle of Champagne "just because," I'm not surprised.

                                                        b) it IS also true that most of the major houses (Moët, Mumm, and the like) produce multiple cuvées for their "Brut"-designated Champagnes -- drier for the UK market, primarily; "dry" for the domestic (French) market, and most of the planet; and on the sweeter side for the US market, and a few others. All fall within the "Brut" category, but all three have different levels of sweetness.


                                                        In the FWIW mode, when Mumm was still owned by Seagram's, the people there told me that the US was the major market for their Extra Dry, and that -- in fact -- Mumm only marketed their Extra Dry in two countries: the US and Iceland. In the rest of the world, they sold "Double Cordon" -- the label was designed with a thin (half the "regular" width) RED ribbon (Cordon Rouge Brut) and a thin GREEN ribbon (Cordon Vert Demi-Sec). Brut + Demi-Sec = Extra Dry.

                                                        They told me that, in France, Mumm sold approx. 150 cases a year of Double Cordon -- "mostly for children's birthday parties."

                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                          LOL -- we dutifully drank it, because they were so happy to present it, but yeccch.

                                                          Years ago, I was challenged by a colleague to tell the difference between French Champagne and California sparkling. (No warning, one flute of Moet from Epernay and one flute from Napa were placed in front of me -- there, hotshot - tell me which one is French and which one is from California)

                                                          They were pretty miffed that I made the distinction based on aroma alone -- but the two flutes made their way around the table, and they saw for themselves what a huge difference there is.

                                                          1. re: zin1953

                                                            a) I myself reserve Champagne for occasions mainly because you can't really re-cork and have some more the next day.

                                                            b) it's so confusing. I accidentally bought "extra dry" Piper Heidsick for New Year's Eve and when I realized it I was afraid it would be sweet, but honestly I could not discern the sweetness. It seemed to my uneducated palate no more or less sweet than the Henriot Souverain Brut I had last week (good week). The Henriot, btw, was beautiful and smelled of graham crackers.

                                                            1. re: danna

                                                              Danna, you need a champagne stopper -- like this:


                                                              They work extraordinarily well -- the bubbles will stay for several days.

                                                        2. re: maria lorraine

                                                          Of course some Americans drink and appreciate Champagne. We did Dom, PJ Fleur, Ruinart NV, Lanson, and Krug MV for NYE. That aside, since my wife is nicknamed Champagne Shirley we go through a lot of sparkling. I find some American sparklers drinkable, especially at the low price-point of Gloria Ferrer Vintage, Roederer Anderson, or even some Schramsberg. They're not tete cuvee or even at the level of some good French Nv like Peters or Billiot, but they cost a lot less and to me are serviceable.
                                                          Had some Paddlefish and Hackleback domestic caviar from Exclusively Caviar too. It's not imported, but at the fraction the cost, is similar and enjoyable. Kelly's Katch has some good domestic stuff too. Less $ than the Tsar Nicolai.

                                                2. I would go with Gloria Ferrer sparklers. Heck, I bought a ton of the GF Royal Cuvee for $12.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: 4wino

                                                    I would remind you the OP is in Hawai'i and it's highly unlikely Gloria Ferrer is anywhere near $12, let alone the Royal Cuvée which, on the winery website -- http://shop.gloriaferrer.com/SHOP.AMS... -- lists for $32.

                                                    1. re: zin1953

                                                      Ah, got you. I suppose online shopping does not help much due to shipping charges.

                                                      Then, I would go with a Cava like Freixenet.

                                                      1. re: zin1953

                                                        GF is discounted a lot and has a pretty broad distribution. It might not be as reasonably priced as a steep discount here, but sometimes Hawaii can be odd. Things pop up. I remember Cloudy Bay SB being avail as readily and inexpensively as mainland. For a while there Turley's lower-end wines could be found at a bunch of lower end outlets there.
                                                        To Danna above. If you buy a decent champagne stopper, you can easily maintain the fizz and freshness in bubbly for 1 maybe two days in the fridge.