Who doesn’t want a terrific bottle of bubbly to open for the holidays? With tastes to suit every palate and prices to fit any budget there has never been a better time to begin a love affair with sparkling wine.
If it must be Champagne, my favorite is Piper Heidsieck Brut. This is a champagne that tastes great on its own but is also great with aperitifs, the main course and dessert. The combination of round and full-bodied, while remaining light, dry and delicate is impressive. The cost comes in around the $40 mark and it’s easy to find in stores.
Or if a Cremant will fit the bill, as the bill will be a little bit lower, Cremant d’alsace Rose Domaine Allimant-Laugner is pink, perfect and fun. With very fine bubbles, this is a dry, but flavorful, mouthful of luscious, ripe, red, juicy fruit. My current favorite rose. I am stunned this retails for under $20 and just around $40 for the 1.5L. Buy the big bottle.
Ready to explore outside of France for your bubbles? Try Campolargo Espumante Bruto Rose 2013. This 100% pinot noir is elegant, light and crisp. The Portuguese wine is the palest of pink colors, light, tiny bubbles, classically bottle fermented and wonderfully dry. A pleasant wine to celebrate with or enjoy with appetizers. Retails at $25.
Merlot deserves more than a ‘Sideways’ glance
If you are in the mood for bigger bubbles, and a smaller price, you might want a Prosecco. There is no shortage of choices. My top four, which all range in price from $14 to $17, are:
Mionetto Prosecco with notes of pear, peach and mango. This is one of the happiest tasting Proseccos I’ve had.
La Marca Prosecco is another home run. Deliciously buoyant. While not overly sweet, it reminded me of a lovely cloud-like confection.
I brought The White Knight Prosecco to a Sunday afternoon get-together with some girlfriends along with a bottle of orange juice for Mimosas. I poured myself a sample first, shared the bottle with everyone else, and the orange juice was never opened. Light and airy, flavorful and delightful.
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Filo Dora Prosecco by Tommasi is a wonderfully, delicious Italian sparkling wine. Good body, dry, a light lemony flavor and tons of playful bubbles. The price makes it perfect to celebrate the night before, then have as a mimosa at brunch the next morning, with only a splash of orange juice.
If you want to stick to American sparkling wines there are some stellar choices. One of my top choices, but also the most expensive is, Domaine Carneros Ultra Brut 2013 by Taittinger.
This is a California sparkling wine fermented in the traditional method. If you want to splurge, this is a $40 bottle of deliciousness in many stores, $44 on their website. The Ultra Brut on the label had me expecting something far dryer, with less flavor. Fortunately, though quite dry, this wine is still round and packed with flavor.
If you want to save yourself a little money, the Domaine Carneros Brut is equally pleasing with a nearly $10 cheaper price tag. The difference in dryness is negligible.
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A big drop in price, but not a big drop in flavor, is Mumm Napa Brut Prestige. At under $20 you can easily be fooled into thinking you’re drinking something much more pricey. Nice round mouth feel. Pear, toast and vanilla notes give you an elegant, structured sparkling wine you can be proud to pour for any celebration.
And the price can let the celebration be for…Wednesday. Made it halfway through the week? Let’s celebrate!
Lastly, at around $12, a sparkling wine from Italy. Martini & Rossi Sparkling Rose. This sparkler tastes dryer than the Martin and Rossi I recall drinking in my younger days. With a cheery pink color, this dry sparkling wine has tiny bubbles, and a flavorful and dry finish.
Linda Delmonico Prussen is a Long Island-based award-winning journalist passionate about all things wine.
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Linda Delmonico Prussen