Cheap Wine That Doesn't Suck

Let's face it, if 2009 was a fish, most of us would throw it back. But if there is anything to celebrate come Dec. 31, it's that this terrible, very bad, not so hot disaster of a year will very soon be outta here like last week's garbage.    

And, of course, there's no better way to commemorate flushing the old year down the crapper and toasting a new year that's just gotta be better than with a glass or three of the bubbly. Now, if you work for Goldman Sucks, er. . . Sachs, or happen to run a health insurance company that just won the Congressional lottery, you can afford a few magnums of Dom or Cristal or VC Yellow Label.    

The rest of us, though, are pinching pennies until they scream, so we're looking for a much better deal. I happen to have one right here. It's the non-vintage Poema Brut, a Spanish sparkling wine (called "cava") that bubble for bubble represents one of the best values on the market. It costs less than 10 bucks and is available even at most local supermarkets, but more than that it's got the taste and effervescence of much more expensive stuff.    

Think a light-bodied and refreshing wine with plenty of happy spritz, and  tangy flavors of green apple and lemon-lime with yeasty, mineral-y undercurrents. It may not have the cachet of Dom or Cristal or Veuve Clicquot, but you could get up to 20 bottles of Poema for the same price as one of those, which would really be something to celebrate.

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