I was lucky enough a few years ago to live in Paris for two months.  Decent wine is actually lot cheaper in France than in the US, thank goodness as we were on a very low budget!  We splurged a bit to go to a French wine tasting class to learn a bit more about what to look for.  

 The best thing I learned was an alternative to Champagne.  We all know that champagne can only be named that if it is from the French region of Champagne… and it costs a lot!  Let me introduce you to Crémant.  The full and proper name for the wine is Crémant d’Alsace.  Crémant is sparkling wine that is from the Alsace wine region in France, made in the same style as the sparkling wine from the Champagne region.  The bubbles tend to be less aggressive than other sparkling wines at that price point, and the taste is very similar to Champagne. So you can ask for it with confidence - Crémant is pronounced pronounced "cray-mawn."  Next time you’re shopping for some bubbly, squint at the labels in the French section and look for a Crémant - I think you might really enjoy it!