Some Sparklers Will Add Festive Fizz to New Year's Eve

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No, not the kind of sparklers you have to cross county lines to buy. We're talking sparkling wines. If you're headed to a party or snuggling under a Snuggie with your Snugglebunny tomorrow night, the occasion calls for bubbles.

The traditional brut Champagne is always a fine choice (that's the authentic sparkling nectar from France), but it's difficult to find a good one for less than $40. The Wine Chap in Belle Meade suggests a Montaudon Brut, which they have on sale for $8 off at $34.99. With a gentle aroma of brioche toast, Montaudon makes a perfect beverage to raise a toast with.

If you're looking for some budget alternatives, you might have to look outside of the Gallic borders. There are plenty of nice Spanish cavas out there in the $7.99-$19.99 range that offer a nice, dry alternative to get your fizz on. Frugal MacDoogal's has a very nice Segura Viudas Cava Brut Reserva for less than ten bucks that we have enjoyed alone or as part of a wake-up mimosa in our household.

Out of Australia come some really interesting sparkling shirazes. I'm a big fan of The Chook Sparkling Shiraz, which is widely available in town in the $15 range. Not only does it make a great toasting wine, it pairs wonderfully with food. Try it with your appetizer course with some pâté or with your chocolate dessert and you can't go wrong.

Finally, if you're on a "Buy American" kick, their are some spectacular méthode champenoise sparkling wines coming out of California that won't break your bank. (Those are wines made in the exact same way as French Champagne, sometimes by the same vintners, but are ineligible to be called Champagne because they aren't made in France.)

For example, for about $22, you can enjoy a bottle Domaine Chandon NV Brut Rosé, which is like a strawberry in a glass. Don't be afraid to experiment with some pink in your drink this year.

If you do find yourself a little "over-sparkly" this year, don't forget about Budweiser and AAA Auto Club South's "Tow To Go" program. Since its inception in 1998, "Tow to Go" has safely removed more than 11,650 drunk drivers from the roads.

The program is FREE and open to both AAA members and nonmembers and is 100 percent confidential.

Simple call 1-800-AAA-HELP and the call will be directed to an ERS Call Center which will dispatch a AAA tow truck to take vehicle and driver safely home. Sure, it might take a little while, but at least you and car will be safely home and ready to start the new year intact.

Be careful out there!

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