The pop of the Champagne cork is as much a part of the New Year’s Eve soundtrack as "Auld Lang Syne" and fireworks. The tiny, tickling bubbles evoke celebratory moods.
With so many sparkling wines to choose from, picking the best bottle can be daunting. Prices for sparkling wine range from less than $10 to more than $500 per bottle. Keep in mind that while you usually get what you pay for, there are some great options for those of us on a budget.
Large “negociant” champagne houses that purchase much of their fruit, such as Veuve Clicquot, Bollinger, Roederer, Taittinger, Perrier Jouet and Nicolas Feuillatte, dominate the market. However, in the last decade or so, Champagne from small growers has gained some traction with Champagne enthusiasts.
Only sparkling wine from the French region of Champagne can be labeled Champagne. But that doesn’t mean that quality sparkling wine can’t be produced in other parts of France and around the world.
Cremant from Burgundy, Limoux or the Loire Valley, Prosecco from Italy, Cava from Spain, and sparkling wine from Argentina and the U.S. West Coast deliver quality, value-driven sparklers.
Prosecco is chiefly grown in Italy’s Veneto region. It is vinified like Champagne. Unlike Champagne, Prosecco can deliver quality under $20.
For luxurious vintage Prosecco, the 2009 Bisol Cartizze is an elegant, floral sparkler with layers of citrus fruit, citrus rind, stone fruits and lithe minerality.
In its native Spain, Cava is the drink of choice on Christmas Eve. It is so value-driven that you can buy enough Cava for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
In the end, if you are looking to celebrate the New Year in style, Salon is, shall we say, the Champagne of Champagnes. Or, for a kid-friendly New Year's, try sparkling apple cider.
If you are looking for delicious options on a budget, try one of these five champagnes for less than $20:
1. François Labet ($17) Burgandy, France
2. Boeckel ($16) France
3. Codorníu Cuvée Raventos ($14) Spain
4. Martini and Rossi ($12) Italy
5. Kupferberg Gold ($9) Germany
Lauren Ramos of Central Avenue's CoolVines recommends the following:
Roger Pouillon & Fils Cuvee de Reserve - An absolutely beautiful Champagne! Predominately pinot noir blended with chardonnay. It's highly aromatic with rich, luscious character and an extremely long, elegant finish.
Sieur d Argues Toques et Clochers Cremant - This is a fresh and lively blend of chardonnay and chenin blanc from the Loire Valley in France. It's delicate and smooth, making it easy to pair with food and enjoy throughout the night.
Ca' Del Bosco Prestige Brut - One of the best Italian sparkling wines out there. hailing from the famed Franciacorta region in Lombardia, Italy, this bubbly is full of flavor and decadence. A sumptuous blend of chardonnay and pinot bianco, this wine is a must have for special occasions, romantic evenings...and just because.