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Budget Bubbles

These budget-minded sparkling wines are sure to keep the pop in your party without blowing the top off your wallet.

This season, we're reining in expenses. So it's out with the champagne, in with the cava, prosecco, and other less expensive bubbles.

It must be wound into our DNA. We’re drawn to sparkly things. How else to explain diamond rings and disco balls?

Of course, with sparkling wine, it’s not just the glimmering bubbles that grab us. It’s the whole experience: the unusual heft of the bottle, the ceremonial unwinding of the wire basket, the pleasing pop (or better yet, subtle sigh) of the cork being dislodged. And when the wine erupts in foam out the top, it’s a universal impulse to let loose a “whooo!”

Sparkling wine is a celebration! There’s something luxurious and indulgent about it. And very often, it’s a splurge.
But there are ways to cheat--to have your bubbles and drink them too. Here are a few inexpensive alternatives to fancy French champagnes and spendy Napa sparklers to help you rein in expenses without scrimping on celebration.

    Consider Cava

    Cava is Spanish sparkling wine made according to the champagne method. These crisp, earthy sparkling wines are typically less expensive than champagne.

    Popular Choices
    Cristalino Brut Cava
    Segura Viudas NV Brut Reserva
    Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut

      Italian Bubbles

      Italy is a great source for inexpensive bubbles. Prosecco is a fresh, clean Italian sparkling wine made typically in Veneto. Also, look for wines labeled “spumante” from the Piedmont region of Italy.

       Popular Choices
       Zardetto Prosecco Brut
       Col Vetoraz Prosecco Brut
       Mionetto Prosecco Brut

        We Want Crémant!

        If you want to keep it French but don’t want to spend a fortune on champagne, look to sparkling wines produced outside of the Champagne region. Crémant de Bourgogne and Crémant d’Alsace are fully sparkling wines made according to the champagne method.

        Popular Choices
        Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Brut
        Michel Freres, Crémant de Bourgogne, Blanc de Blanc, Brut
        Pierre Sparr, Crémant d’Alsace Brut Réserve

          Beyond Napa Bubbles

          You might not expect it, but New Mexico is producing some delicious sparkling wines at really terrific prices. Or look to Domaine Ste. Michelle, a sparkling wine from Washington State. Consider this: In their book The Wine Trials, Robin Goldstein and Alexis Herschkowitsch describe a blind tasting where 41 of 62 participants preferred Domaine Ste. Michelle to Dom Pérignon.

          Popular Choices
          Gruet Brut, from New Mexico
          Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut, Columbia Valley, Washington

            Recipe Pairing Suggestions

            Though North Americans drink sparkling wines mostly for toasts and celebrations, they’re actually amazingly food friendly. Now that we’ve accounted for the bubbles, let’s find some great recipes to pair with them.

            Pairing Suggestions

              Jan. 27, 2010 11:19 pm
              Also try the mini bottles of the good stuff! I got a mini bottle of Moet & Chandon as a gift! A quarter to half the regular size.
              Feb. 24, 2010 8:16 am
              Thanks for the info. I'll be putting it to good use on Oscar night.
              Apr. 6, 2011 6:22 pm
              Which wine makes the best Mimosa?
              Dec. 28, 2011 5:52 pm
              There is also Almond Champagne by Wilson's Creek. It is simply heavenly! Once you have it, you will not go back to "regular" champagne.
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