When it comes to celebratory beverages, champagne immediately pops into your head (and glass). But there are a variety of sparkling wines to try during the holidays; it’s a great time to experiment with new bubbles. An international selection awaits and can be found locally for under $20. All are highly rated, so go ahead and use those champagne flutes for these fun effervescent sparklers.
Here are five wines to make the season sparkle
(prices may vary among retailers)
La Marca (Italy) $16.99
This Italian version of sparkling wine is produced in northern Italy’s Veneto region. Light and refreshing, Prosecco is served for just about any occasion. Typically, it’s a go-to apéritif or welcome drink for parties. And with little to no tannins, more guests can enjoy. This pretty bottle with baby blue label is a perfect gift to bring your host or hostess. But it’s what inside that counts: citrus aromas, crisp and clean, with big happy bubbles. It’s terrific on its own, or try serving with fish and seafood.
German Gilabert Cava Brut (Spain) $14.99
Spain has its own version as well. Cava is made the same way as champagne (fermented twice and sealed into bottles), only with native-grown Spanish grapes: Macabeu, Xarel-lo and Parellada. It’s as close to champagne as you can get but with smaller bubbles, a more mineral taste and less sweetness. Cava, the world’s most popular sparkling wine, is made in Catalonia’s Penedés region. Try with Spanish tapas and charcutiery boards: olives, cheese and prosciutto.
Gruet (New Mexico, USA) $18.99
Basically, anything labeled “brut” means a dry sparkling wine. Don’t be fooled by “extra-dry” labels, which mean sweet. Confused? Experiment with several sweetness levels and decide what complements your menu. Luckily, we have a great choice here in the USA. Voted a “Smart Buy” by Wine Spectator, this wine has great acidity and plenty of bold bubbles. It’s refreshing and great as a palate-cleanser. Brut is best served with complex dishes like red meats, heavy sauces, or big bold cheeses.
Graham Beck Brut Rosé (South Africa) $19.99
Rosé is a pink variety of sparkling wine fermented with red grapeskins to provide their subtle color. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes are fermented separately, then combined and bottled for a second fermentation. Rosé isn’t just for summer, and this sparkler is a welcome addition for the holidays. Just beware of sweetness levels, because some can taste like candy. This elegant beauty is silver-pink with subtle fruit flavors, and its tiny bubbles allow for a variety of dishes. Serve with anything, even leftovers.
Louis Bouillot Perle d’Aurore Rosé (France) $19.99
It looks and tastes like Champagne, but since it’s not made in the Champagne region of France (the French have many rules!) it’s called Crémant. This favorite is produced in eight French regions, and it’s just as labor-intensive. The shorter aging requirement results in less complex flavors, but the reasonable price more than makes up for it. This rosé version is juicy and fruit-forward. It’s a terrific option to serve with drier desserts like cake or cookies. Toss in a small strawberry or raspberry for a garnish.