Frugal New Year's: The best champagne ... on a beer budget


If your New Year's resolutions include toning up a flabby bottom line and avoiding becoming the biggest financial loser in 2010, toast your goals with the good stuff -- champagne and sparkling wines priced right for recession-weary revelers.

Following several cork-popping years of record-breaking shipments (and some might say price gouging) to the U.S., the Champagne Bureau is reporting a slump. It's hangover time. US sales of imported bubbly have gone flat in 2009 dropping 41.2% from January to August. The trade association, Comite' Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne, reported by Slate Magazine's wine expert, Mike Steinberger, that there are currently more than 1 billion bottles all dressed up with nowhere to go, sitting in warehouses all over the Champagne region of France.

However, while the party may be over for French exporters, competitive pricing strategies are giving savvy bargain hunters a reason to celebrate.