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IN THE KITCHEN

AROUND HOME : Champagne Substitutes

February 05, 1989|RUTH REICHL

THE TROUBLE WITH champagne is that the best is so very expensive and the rest is so very disappointing. Still, there are options.

Consider the Bellini, a drink invented at Harry's Bar in Venice. It's now so trendy that it even has a restaurant in New York named after it, and the drink is turning up in all the best places. At most of them it's made with a mixture of peach juice and champagne, and, needless to say, it is rarely the best champagne. But it doesn't have to be: The original was made with Spumante, the far less expensive bubbling brew of Italy. It was also made with fresh peach juice, which is fairly prohibitive at certain times of the year. But you can easily resort to bottled mixes. Of the number of Bellini mixes on the market, one of the best, and least expensive, is called Champagne Additions. It contains peaches, sugar, lemon juice, Cointreau flavoring and black currant juice. It is absolutely delicious, and it goes a long way.

But you don't actually have to go to the trouble of mixing juice with sparkling wine to get a real peach of a drink. The latest brew comes bubbling out of the bottle smelling like peaches. Made in the south of France, this champagne substitute is called Brut de Peche. It is a beautiful shade of light pink, and it has a light, refreshing flavor.

Champagne Additions, $8.95 a bottle, is available at Wally's Liquor, in West Los Angeles; telephone (213) 474-1524.

Brut de Peche, $12.95 a bottle, is available at Beverly Hills Cheese Shop, Beverly Hills; telephone (213) 278-2855.

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