One of My Favorite Economic Indicators: YOU

Regular readers know I travel all over the U.S. (and the globe). I love to move, but my travels also help me stay connected to the many businesses and economies around the country.

For example, when I stay at a Hampton Inn in Madison, Wisconsin, I mingle in the morning with folks enjoying the great breakfast foods. (I love the self-made waffles.) I might hear about a new pipe or valve company, or chat up nurses in town to learn their thoughts on electronic medical record (EMR) systems.

My boots-on-the-ground activity keeps me close to what's happening across America...

Another method I use to keep track of what's going on in the world is you – my readers. That's why I love taking Fridays to answer some questions and share suggestions from readers.

Today is our last Q&A issue of the year. My team has some special issues in store for the remainder of 2017. And I'll be back to answer more questions in the New Year.

In the meantime, send your questions, suggestions, and comments to [email protected]. I read every e-mail we get.

Now let's get to today's questions...

Q: I appreciate saving money as much as the next guy, but suggesting that a prosecco is a substitute for champagne is going just a little far, don't you think? Now there are some good bruts from the U.S. that may be a little less that your favorite champagne, but a whole league above your typical prosecco, mid-range Chandon or Mumm's, or even Gruet from New Mexico.

For something unexpected, try Sanford down near Santa Barbara. I've really been digging their pinot lately. They also produce a brut in the typical blanc de noir style. – S.B.

A: First off, let me say that I know you have fine taste, S.B., since you're a multi-vintage buyer of my Eifrig Cellars cabernet sauvignon... But I think you're missing the point of sparkling wines. Champagne is designed for everyone. It's used to celebrate life. It's less about the champagne itself and more about the celebratory feel it brings, in part from the bubbles and unique top.

With champagne, you're really paying for two things: the location and the manufacturing process. As I mentioned earlier this week, European law states that to have the designation of champagne, winemakers must bottle the wine within 100 miles of the Champagne region of France. (There is one American exception to this, Korbel, but that's a story to be had over a bottle of sparkling wine.)

With champagne, you're paying a premium for that designation (and shipping costs to the U.S.).

By the way, the traditional method of making champagne is called méthode champenoise. Basically, this method means the fermentation and carbonation process happens inside each individual bottle. This is thought to provide smoother bubbles and better taste. The problem is that it's the most expensive method.

As we've said before, expensive wine isn't always the best wine. And some folks might prefer a sparkler made in bulk rather than in a bottle.

Prosecco tends to be bulk method made and must come from the Veneto region of Italy to have the moniker prosecco. It's also typically a bit sweeter, which has its benefits with the right food. So it's cheaper and a bit sweeter... For some folks, it's right up their alley. For me, I'd rather have a glass of prosecco with prosciutto-wrapped melon than any champagne out there... I just don't like super-sweet proseccos, and they're admittedly harder to track down.

For me, the key is to drink what I like and make sure I'm pairing it with the right food.

As for your suggestions... I love them all, and didn't know that Sanford did a sparkler. I'll check it out this year. Thanks, S.B.!

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Q: Nice article on bubbly today. One important aspect you did not touch on is why some people dislike bubbly – because it gives them heartburn. This is because there are usually higher levels of acid in these wines, causing some to feel uncomfortable after consuming.

My go-to bubbly is Gloria Ferrer – similar in price to the Mumm's you mention, but lower in acid and more drinkable. – K.M.

A: Heartburn can be an issue after a night of drinking champagne. That's why your question inspired this week's weekly video. In it, our researcher Amanda Cuocci addresses the top five facts about Champagne and how to drink it wisely. Watch it here.

Q: I continue to read your (and others') advice on protecting stock positions with the use of trailing stops. Most insist that the stop loss orders not be placed, but that the security price watched and the sell order entered the day after the get-out price is reached. Yet I remember a Monday in October of 1987 when the market dropped over 20%. Using the technique you all describe, one would get destroyed by trying to sell on the following Tuesday.

I'm not really sure I could have saved much profit had I been sitting at a trading desk selling everything I owned, but clearly waiting until the next day wasn't a great solution. Having "Stop-loss" orders on the books that would be exercised the moment the exit price was hit would have saved enormous amounts. – D.K.

A: The last thing you want is to get kicked out of a trade too early. Remember the "flash crash" in May 2010? In 36 minutes, the stock market fell 10%. The market had mostly rebounded by the end of the day. In an unusual situation like that, you wouldn't want to have an automated stop.

Instead of entering your stop with your broker, you can use price alerts from your broker to send you an e-mail or phone message once prices get close to your buy or sell levels. This is a safer way to maximize your profits and limit your losses because your shares aren't automatically sold. That means you can decide when to sell.

What We're Reading...

Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Retirement Millionaire Daily Research Team
Baltimore, Maryland
December 15, 2017