Here are a dozen places to visit in Downtown/Strip District, East End, South Side and South Hills for the best tacos in Pittsburgh.
Our Pennsylvania wine shops are well stocked with sparkling wines for the holidays. Here is a selection.
• Piper Heidsieck Extra Dry Champagne, PLCB #4930, $34.99. A classic champagne from a well-known producer with toasty, nutty and yeasty aromas and a clean, citrus finish.
• Taittinger Rose Brut Champagne, PLCB #29543, $49.99. Red berries and rose petal aromas and a velvety texture make this champagne one to remember.
• Blanquette de Limoux Sparkling Wine, Extra Dry, PLCB #4243, $9.99. From the Southwestern region of France, this methode traditionnelle wine is made from the white mauzac grape and is aged for nine months on the lees. It has a crisp acidity and an almost cider-like flavor.
• Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc, PLCB #8819, $27.99 (on sale until Jan 6). This elegant sparkler is made entirely from chardonnay grapes and aged for two years on the lees. It is crisp and dry with aromas of vanilla and spice mingled with baked pineapple.
• Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut, PLCB #7933, $19.79. The prestigious French Champagne firm of Roederer makes this California sparkler in the image of its French brother.
• Chandon Etoile, PLCB #29213, $29.99. This is a prestige bottle from the Domaine Chandon in Napa. It is aged five years on the lees and presents a mouthful of cherries, raspberries and peaches wrapped up in silk with a clean and lengthy finish. This is the California equivalent of Dom Perignon or other prestige bottles from Champagne.
• Domaine Ste. Michelle. This is my choice for a "house bubbly" and there is always a bottle in our fridge. Clean and fresh with typical French characteristics, it is made from chardonnay and pinot noir. Currently it's on sale for the great price of $9.99 a bottle in three varieties. They are Brut (PLCB #4550), Extra Dry (PLCB #6480) and 100 percent chardonnay Blanc de Blancs (PLCB #5872).
• Valdivieso Extra Brut, PLCB #10605, $9.99. This Santiago wine producer has been making sparkling wine in the traditional way since the 19th century. This exceptionally good value is made from the classic champagne grape varieties and has toasty aromas with notes of grapefruit.
• Bisol Prosecco, PLCB #29462, $17.99. A lovely mouthful of lemon, lime and minerals from one of the finest producers of prosecco.
• Asti Spumante Elmo Pio, PLCB #4856, $8.99. For fans of the moscato grape, this slightly sweet sparkler pairs especially well with desserts.
• Rosa Regale Brachetto d'Acqui, PLCB #6239, $16.99
This bright red semi-sweet sparkler is made from the brachetto grape and smells of roses and strawberries. Drink it with dessert.
• Yarden Galilee Brut, PLCB #29434, $22.95. This Kosher sparkler is made entirely in the traditional fashion and has the classic taste of apples and citrus.
• Shingleback Shiraz, PLCB #27809, $22.99. This bright red sparkler from McLaren Vale, "Down Under," is an unusual find in our area. Bursting with blackberries and earthy aromas, it is dry and meaty and can accompany either entree or dessert.
• Freixenet Brut, PLCB #8781, $8.99. On sale until Jan. 6.
Plenty of bubbly tastings are on tap for PLCB stores.
From 4 to 6 p.m. tonight, three types of Cook's California sparkling wines (Extra Dry Champagne, Spumante and Brut Champagne) will be poured at PLCB stores including Robinson Town Centre, McKnight Road in Ross, Cochran Road in Scott, the Perry Shops in Ross and Sewickley. (This tasting will be repeated at several stores on Dec. 27.)
From 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Martini & Rossi asti spumante and prosecco will be poured at stores including the Westmoreland Mall, Monroeville Mall, Perry Shops and Cochran Road; the tasting runs from 3 to 5 p.m. at the McKnight Road store.
From 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, at the Village Square Mall, WaterWorks and Penn Circle in East Liberty stores, you can try Korbel California Brut Champagne and Chardonnay Champagne.
From 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Sewickley store, try Clicquot Yellow Label Brut Champagne and Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial Champagne.
On Wednesday, you can try Elmo Pio Asti and Mionetto Prosecco Brut at several stores.
On Dec. 28, several stores will sample Barefoot Bubbly Extra Dry Chardonnay Champagne.
On Dec. 29 and 30, many stores will sample Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut Champagne, Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut Champagne and Jacob's Creek Chardonnay/Pinot Noir Brut Cuvee. Tastings continue Dec. 31. Find a full calendar of tastings at www.lcb.state.pa.us.
-- Bob Batz Jr.