Paris Hilton sucks it through a straw, Czar Nicholas II swigged it straight from the bottle, and Marilyn Monroe reportedly bathed in the bubbles. Champagne! The twice-fermented-in-the-bottle sparkling wine from the northeast of France has been de rigueur with the fashionable and frivolous since the first vin mousseux popped its cork centuries ago. Here’s NOW’s seasonal survey of the explosive tipple – from budget to bling.
Synonymous with late summer afternoons, Prosecco La Robinia ($9.05/750 ml) is an extra-dry Italian spumante that delivers the fruity fizz of champagne at a fifth of the cost year round.
The best-selling sparkling wine in the world, Freixenet Cordon Negro 's ($3.25/200 ml) originates in Catalonia and is now available in cool swig-able bottles.
Rich and slightly citric, Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Reservé Particulière ($39.95/750 ml) rates high praise for its creamy bubbles and general elegance.
Because of their rarity, rosés are considered the créme de la créme of champagne. This Moët & Chandon Impérial Rosé ($62.75/750 ml) lives up to the hype with its subtle berry notes and long dry finish.
Why anyone would want to drink champagne through a straw - does it get you drunk quicker? - is a mystery, but the folks from Piper-Heidsieck claim this four-pack of Baby Piper Brut ($44.95/4 x 200 ml) goes down better when sucked in that manner. Cute red plastic carry-all, too.
Suck on this: Pommery's mini-magnums of Pop ($14.10/200 ml) also come with straws, these bendable and logo-stamped in designer shades of royal blue and silver to match the bubbly's label.
Veuve Clicquot's Paint Can ($74.45) includes four 200 ml single-serving bottles of non-vintage Yellow Label Brut and insertable spouts that allow you to swill with the swells without spillage. Bonus: The can doubles as an ice bucket.
Monarchists will know that Moët & Chandon's Brut Impérial ($29.95/375 ml) is produced by appointment to HRH Good Queen Bess. Non-royals can enjoy its strong citrus flavour and aggressive acidity.
Champagne taste on a beer budget? Both this three-litre jeroboam of Heineken 's famous suds ($39.95) and magnum of Labatt's Blue ($9.95, 1.45 litres) are limited editions and have already been auctioned on eBay.
Teetotallers wishing to toast the season can do so with a glass of Canada Dry ($1.49, 1 litre), the world-famous "champagne of ginger ales" that originated in Toronto in 1907.
Moët & Chandon's Dom Pérignon is named for the Benedictine dude who's credited with inventing champagne back in the 17th century. This 1995 bottle of the prestige cuvée (1995, $171.55, 750 ml) may be pricey, but it comes in its own sealed box.
Created for the czarist Russian court, Louis Roederer's Cristal (1996, $219.95, 750 ml) is the ultimate bling-bling tipple among the hiphop set. Jay-Z even went so far as to immortalize the grande cuvée in song in his Hard Knock Life: "Let's sip the Crist and get pissy-pissy." Yes, let's.