In this age of thrifty consumerism, can you serve California sparkling wine instead of Champagne? Editors at BusinessWeek compared nonvintage bruts of three French vineyards with their California cousins.
-- Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial ($33.25) vs. Chandon Brut Napa ($14.95): One taster said the California Napa "had more taste [and] was richer," while another noted the Moet was "very clean-tasting, yet full-bodied." Since most thought both brands were very good, only 20% of our tipplers said they would be willing to pay the $18 or so per-bottle premium for the Moet.
-- Veuve Clicquot ($33.95) vs. Pacific Echo ($16.50): The Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label was the hands-down favorite of all six tasted. The Veuve had "a more complex taste," with richer color and better bubbles. Still, just 25% were willing to pay the 106% markup over Echo. As one taster said: "The Pacific Echo is nice enough on its own to justify not paying the extra expense."
-- Mumm Cordon Rouge ($27.95) vs. Mumm Cuvee Napa ($16.95): The Rouge beat the Napa 5 to 1. Almost half the tasters were even willing to pay the premium.