With club championships populating many August, September and October calendars, 19th Hole felt obliged to prepare readers for the ultimate celebration.
This is, we note, not the celebration that punctuated the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open playoff, when Se Ri Pak wielded a well-agitated bottle of bubbles and sprayed them on her victorious countrywoman, So Yeon Ryu. Club soda would work just fine for that, and wears much more nicely on those stylish final-round outfits than the options contained here.
In 2010 Pak took a dunking of a champagne-beer mix, and while beer does have the required carbonation for a bubbly celebration, it lacks luxury and elegance. So, cheers to the Champagne and the sparkling wine that make an achievement all the more memorable.
That said, many golf course clubhouses lack a fine celebratory beverage. All too often, we’ve seen a bottle of Freixenet produced to commend a player’s first hole-in-one. Suggestion: Mix that with orange juice the next morning for a post-celebratory hair of the dog.
There’s also the other extreme, the $150 bottle of Dom Perignon, marked up at the clubhouse to $400 with the smug expectancy that some GottaGoGolfer is so happy at her achievement that she’ll spend anything!
Here, we agree that bubbles belong at the party. There’s nothing more cheerful, more festive, more appropriate for a celebration. Does that mean it has to be Champagne, made of the grapes of that particular region of France? Does that mean it has to be expensive?
No and no. Here, a few options for every taste and budget, all of them sipped by GottaGoGolf’s prematurely celebrating panel. Though come to think of it, we were toasting Rory McElroy’s U.S. Open Championship of a day earlier.
- Secco Italian Bubbles: The celebration starts with the cheerful label and the story behind it. A couple of Italian sisters who loved their Prosecco blends came up with this one, 40 percent Pinot Bianco and 60 percent Glera (the Prosecco grape). A nice, dry and crisp bubbly, with floral and fruit notes, this retails for around $14 and under. SeccoItalianBubbles.com
- Mumm Napa Cuvee M: This was the first bottle to disappear on a 97-degree pool day. Everyone loved the creamy drinkability of Mumm’s slightly sweet, very berry sparkler, a birdie by itself but an eagle when paired with spicy or Asian food. A blend of fruit from 50 vineyards, including a bit of late-harvest Muscat and Pinot Noir, this retails for around $15 – and we’ve found it at Safeway on sale for around $10. MummNapa.com
- Solter 2007 Brut: Ah, the pink one! But, not to be deceived by the pastel of the Statburgunder Rose. Made in Germany from Pinot Noir using classic French Champagne techniques, the Solter does not taste anything like the Boones Farm Strawberry Hill its color may call to mind. We called it strawberries and cream with bubbles – but, this is a brut, so think of the color more as Paula Creamer pink (feisty, resilient and winning) than baby nursery pink. Look for it online for around $22.
- Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne Brut NV France: Did you know that there are club-makers who can assemble the equivalent of a $1,000 driver for, oh, $200? This is how we think of our Nicky Foo – the $31 knockoff of the $50 Perrier Jouet, Veuve Clicquot and Moet. But it’s the real deal, yeasty and brimming with golden bubbles, floral aromas and bright fruit. A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, this is the bottle for your favorite Francophile. Feuillatte.com
- J. Schram Brut 2004: As the winery will tell you (and we at GottaGoGolf can attest to), Schramsberg spares no expense or effort in producing this delicious Brut-style bottle of bubbly, a tribute to the brilliance of Chardonnay that debuted in 1992. This elegant blend (15% Pinot Noir), sourced from vineyards in Northern California, aged in mountainside Calistoga caves for five years before being released. Aromas of fresh, tart apple, stone fruit and lime with a rich, creamy mouthfeel. Citrus and melon flavors, subtle notes of spice with a great balance of acidity and minerality and a long sexy finish. Our special occasion bottle might not fly with your snooty friend who thinks only the French Champagne truly sparkles. The truth is, everyone makes champagne, it’s just that the French somehow cornered the name, the way Portugal never managed to do with port. And when you’ve had your first hole-in-one and bought everyone in the bar a glass of Freixenet, go home and pop the cork on this delicious, $100.00 American sparkler and you just might see fireworks. Schramsberg.com
3 tips for maximum enjoyment
- For maximum enjoyment, save the paper cup for the club soda and sip your bubbly from a flute. Even the plastic, self-assembled flute beats a crystal cylinder or pint glass when it comes to encouraging and showcasing bubbles.
- Remember that even a relatively low-alcohol bubbly with lighten your head a bit faster than beer or wine. It has to do with the carbonation pumping the alcohol into your bloodstream at a faster rate than it gets there with noncarbonated alcoholic beverages.
- Napoleon supposedly said that the victor deserves Champagne, but “in defeat, you need it.” And if you’ve neither won nor lost today, perhaps you can find some other reason to celebrate. Is the sun shining? Cheers!
This article first appeared in the August 2011 edition of GottaGoGolf Magazine.