Ring in the new year with gold in your bubbly

The bottle:XXIV Karat Grande Cuvee, $37

The back story: Champagne for New Year’s Eve? Been there, done that. But a bottle of bubbly with gold flakes? Now, that’s a conversation starter. And that’s pretty much the inspiration behind XXIV Karat, a new line of California-sourced sparklers — there’s also a Rose ($42) — that aims to put some glitter into any sipping occasion. (Technically, true Champagne comes only from France — hence, XXIV Karat wines are generally referred to as sparkling wines.) Basically, this is the bubbly equivalent of Goldschlager, the cinnamon-flavored gold flake-enhanced sip that’s been around for decades and posted initial sales in excess of $100 million, according to one report. Apparently, novelty does sell.

And XXIV is also selling, at least according to brand founder Nick Cowherd, a 24-year-old entrepreneur who says he conceived of the concept when he was still an undergrad business student at Arizona State University. In its debut year in 2013, the brand posted sales of $92,000. This year, it’s on track to do “well over a million,” says Cowherd. And in 2015? Cowherd says he’s launching in several more markets and aiming for $4.5 million. His pitch is fairly simple: Most sparkling wines are judged by three things — price, taste and look. “We have what we call the fourth element,” he explains of his gilded bubbly.

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Oh, and about that fourth element, as in gold: Yes, it’s of the edible variety, but it doesn’t really add any flavor. (It is, however, pounded thin enough so that it can “ride the bubbles,” in Cowherd’s words.) And it’s not worth all that much, either: A mere 5 mg of the shiny stuff goes in every bottle. Given the current price of gold, that equates to about 20 cents worth of the precious metal.

Forget Champagne: Here’s a gold-flaked sparkler

What we think about it: As a novelty product, we like it. (Hey, what’s not to like about gold?) But as an actual sip…well, that’s another story. At first approach, this has a nicely sweet, lemony taste. But then a bit of bitterness kicks in and spoils the fun. As another reviewer noted: “What emerges is akin to a combination of applesauce and Splenda.” Bottom line: It’s average bubbly at best, and $37 is too much to pay for average bubbly (even average California bubbly). We had to ask ourselves: If you took away the gold, would anyone buy this bottle?

How to enjoy it: Chilled, of course. And if you want to kick it up a notch, you might as well pair it with your favorite piece of gold jewelry — say, something like this. Either way, have a happy New Year.

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View more information: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/ring-in-the-new-year-with-gold-in-your-bubbly-2014-12-24

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