Tasting Bubbles: Santa Barbara Public Market Hosts Champagne Event

by Gabe Saglie, Senior Editor, Travelzoo
photos by Bob Dickey, wineguydotcom@yahoo.com
(story published in the Santa Barbara News-Press on 12/4/14)

Even if you haven’t bought a bottle of bubbly all year, odds are you will now.
Strong Champagne sales “begin in October and November, and they  really pick up for New Year’s Eve,” says Sam Doernte, the buyer for the wine and beer retail shop – Wine + Beer – inside the Santa Barbara Public Market.  “I expect to see a big jump in sales in the next month."
Some of the fine Champagne to be featured at Wine+ Beer this Saturday
Indeed, ‘tis the season for suds, for bottled effervescence, and, yes, even for that occasional cork streaking at high speeds across the room.
No doubt, many of you avid Champagne fans have already earmarked your turn-of-the-calendar bottle while; for the rest of us, though, this will be a once-a-year buy, and a potentially intimidating one.
No matter what camp you’re in, though, this weekend’s Champagne tasting at Santa Barbara Public Market may be one of the best wine investments you make this year.
On Saturday, in two separate sessions, Wine + Beer will showcase 11 top-shelf Champagnes.  These are the real deal – some of the best producers grown and made in France’s legendary bubbles mecca.  Many are recognizable labels: Dom Perignon, Krug, Ruinart.  But several are boutique producers – low-profile labels and best-kept-secret sparklers.
“It’s actually a very small number of producers [in Champagne] who grow their own fruit, make their own wine, bottle it in their own cellars and then sell it,” says Doernte, who moved out from Palm Springs just six weeks ago to help stock the shelves at Wine + Beer.  “But the people who do it are always pretty high quality, and you get a lot of value out of them.”
Wine + Beer features several bubblies by the glass
Champagnes up for tasting include Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve N/V, Chartogne-Taillet "Sainte-Anne" Brut N/V, Henriot Brut Souverain N/V, Krug "Grande Cuvee" Brut N/V and Dom Perignon Brut 2004.
In a move that highlights the bevy of offerings at this buzzing culinary epicenter, guests will cleanse palates between sips with gourmet pairings from other Market merchants: oysters and caviar from Santa Monica Seafood, cheese and charcuterie from Culture Counter and duck confit from Belcampo Meat Company.
And since first-hand sipping always makes buying smarter and easier, 20% discounts will be offered on purchases of six or more bottles.
“How much will a solidly good Champagne cost me?” I asked Doernte during our chat this week.
“You can find great ones between $40 and $70,” he said, reminding me that Wine + Beer always  features two to three Champagnes by the glass and 30 sparkling wine selections by the bottle, about half of which are genuine Champagnes.
Saturday’s events – an early session at 4:30pm and an evening session at 7pm – will last two hours and take place in The Kitchen, the Santa Barbara Public Market’s commercial cooking facility that regularly hosts demos, classes and private events.  Tickets are $60 and attendance for each is capped at 40 – cocktail attire requested.  For tickets, go to www.nightout.com or call 805-770-7702.

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