This is easily the most counterintuitive entry in this list.
The standard line of thinking is that everyone of drinking age wants to get their hands on some bubbly for the holidays or New Year's and that producers of champagne and sparkling wine should get to name their price. After all, U.S. sparkling wine consumption has jumped from 13.4 million cases at the height of the recession in 2008 to 17.7 million cases last year, according to the San Francisco-based Wine Institute wine industry group.The demand is there, so why drop the price? Because wineries and champagne houses want their label in your champagne bucket when you make your champagne punch or count down to midnight. In fact, the folks at the Office of Champagne USA -- which represents the trade association of growers in France's Champagne region and really doesn't like it when you call just any bottle of fizzy nonsense by that name -- notes that fierce competition among France's Champagne houses makes the price of their bubbly lower during the holidays than they are at any other time of year. Decidedly non-Champagne U.S. competition only gives Champagne producers more motivation. Consumption of U.S. sparkling wine has jumped by 1.9 million barrels since 2007 to 8.9 million barrels. While the foreign competition lags behind at 7.7 million barrels, its production has grown by nearly 2.1 million barrels over that same span. The good stuff here and abroad is still more costly, but a nice French vintage isn't as cost-prohibitive around this time of year as you may expect. Golf clubs Sorry, cold-weather states, but this has nothing to do with the drop in temperature and flakes you're seeing. It has everything to do with the end of golf season here in North America and the claims manufacturers made earlier in the year striking flat against the realities exposed on the links. Basically, this year's models have been put through the paces and even the ones that lived up to the hype are about to be eclipsed by next year's models promising better performance. Whatever. We're not golf luddites, and we have a respect for just how much innovation can change the game, but that doesn't happen from one year to the next. It tends to take a bit more time, which means that saving a whole lot of money on this year's closeouts won't put you at a disadvantage when your partner shows up with a brand-new heavy hitter in the bag next season. If you buy a great club and have it properly fitted to a weight and flexibility that suits you, that club should be a regular in your bag for a good, long time.