By Nirvana Cobb Special to Published Feb 17, 2010 at 1:18 PM

"Bar Month" at is back for another round! The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs -- including guides, the latest trends, rapid bar reviews and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!

"Beautiful music when Champagne flutes click, eh..." Jay Z

I am a Libra, so I love beauty. I try to find beauty in everything, from art, fashion, cuisine, home décor and my new favorite ... Champagne.

The really fun and awesome thing about Champagne is that there are so many varieties, and, like wine, the quality of the drink is not always determined by the price.

Typically, people go with what is most familiar, such as Moet & Chandon, for example.

While my personal favorite is the Moet Black Label, this is not the only brand on the market. With so many Champagnes available that offer great taste, and that are affordable, which one is the best for you?

Sparkling wine is Champagne's fraternal twin

Sparkling white wines are very similar to Champagne; some wouldn't be able to tell the difference. My favorite is cava, Spain's signature white wine bubbly. According to Wine Enthusiast, '91 Gramona III Lustros Gran Reserva Cava is in the top rated and palate fooling category and prices at about $45. It is a toasty, yeasty, ultra-rich cava with a Champagne personality.

Among the top cava values you can find the '86 Freixenet NV Nevada Semi-Dry Cava, which has a bouquet of powdered sugar and white fruits and shows of tropical fruits mango and papaya. Its finish is clean and dry with some spice. You can find this heavenly selection for $9.

Champagne has enjoyed an aura of luxury from its conception in the 17th century. Champagne is cultivated in the northernmost part of France. Epernay and Reims are the two main cities of the Champagne region; they are about 90 miles northeast of Paris. Champagne is a white wine made mostly from red grapes.

With the addition of yeast, and strictly controlled temperature, the alcoholic fermentation begins. It takes about 8 to 10 weeks for the fermentation to become complete. At this point, when the carbonic gas has turned still wine sparkling, the yeast will ferment, giving the wine additional flavor and body.

There are many types of Champagne and choices include Brut, containing a small sugar content, and Blanc de Blanc whose fresh and crisp taste is pressed only from white Chardonnay grapes. A couple that come highly recommended for flavor and good sparkle and flavor harmony include: Veuve Cliquot, priced around $45, and Pol Roger. 

Ways to enhance your Champagne experience:

Food not only helps educate your palate, if kicks the flavor and tasting experience up a notch! Here is a fantastic way to impress your friends:

Grab a bottle of bubbly (I would suggest Louis Roederer) and the following fruit and cheeses: Brie, mild Cheddar, smoked Gouda, crisp green apples, strawberries and raspberries. Prepare them all on a nice plate, and pour the champagne into beautiful flutes. Sip and see what flavors you taste, add some fruit or cheese to compliment the arrangement.

Champagne and Sunday brunch

In the larger markets you find that Sunday mornings, and afternoons are rarely spent indoors eating toast and oatmeal. You get up, get dressed and go to brunch. One of my favorite Milwaukee brunches is at Trocodero. Besides offering an amazing menu and late brunch hours, it offers an awesome drinks selection featuring many moderately priced Champagne-infused drinks.

If you choose to stay at home and create amazing brunch memories with your loved ones, I suggest straying away from the typical orange juice mimosa and try a Champagne peach Bellini.

  • 6 ounces of your favorite champagne
  • 1 peach
  • Puree the peach and fill half of a tall champagne flute, top the peach with your favorite champagne and enjoy!

Champagne events

Milwaukee is not just about beer! Do something different this week and check out these events where popping champagne is encouraged! 

Toast to luxury with a free glass of Champagne from 9 to 10 p.m. Saturday at the Starbar's "Champagne Lounge" event, 643 N. Milwaukee St.

You can experience a new monthly rotating event themed around the essence of Champagne and celebrations at Milwaukee's best Champagne venue, Cuvee located at 177 N. Broadway in the Historic Third Ward.

It wears the bubbly crown with 100 different varieties of Champagne and sparkling wines. You can enjoy these grapes by the glass, bottle or in creative champagne cocktails.

On Sunday, Feb. 21, sip Champagne and listen to Milwaukee's best musical talent at Cuvee's R & B Live.

Nirvana Cobb Special to
Nirvana Cobb was born and raised in the East Bay of Northern California, and lived there until she moved to Milwaukee at the age of 14 with mother, UWM Film Professor Portia Cobb, and younger sister.

Nirvana graduated from Riverside University High School and attended Wilberforce University, an historic black university in Ohio.

Not satisfied that she was receiving the proper training for her career goals, Nirvana was accepted into Public Allies Milwaukee and worked at the Sherman Park Boys and Girls Club for her program year.

Before enrolling at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Nirvana did some traveling and sports marketing and event related internships, most notably with the Chicago Cubs.

She has also worked for Chicago's No. 1 radio station WGCI, National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Illinois Action for Children.

Nirvana also has a children's clothing line called Pineapple Eggplant.