Sparkling wine is the perfect pairing at this time of year. Drink it as an aperitif, pair it with dinner, or with dessert. It goes with everything, and you’ll look elegant drinking it. There are a LOT of different kinds of bubbly out there – from just about every winegrowing country in the world – so there’s no reason to limit yourself to the standby Veuve Clicquot or Prosecco. Here are some suggestions on branching out, for all your holiday needs.
For the Host / Hostess:
For a host/hostess gift, I usually trade up a tier from what I’d buy for myself. And, I like to be original so that it won’t be “just another bottle.” My go to for this purpose is Schramsberg from California. It’s delicious, it’s classic yet not ubiquitous and it runs about $30 (and it’s very widely available). I also love Cremants from France. Cremant means creamy in French and is the word used to denote sparkling wine made in the “Methode Champenoise” in any region other than Champagne – for example: Cremant de Loire, Cremant de Bourgogne (Burgundy), Cremant de Jura and Cremant d’Alsace. This is a great way to get the quality of Champagne at a fraction of the price.
For a Crowd:
Prosecco is the fan favorite here and you can get a fair one for about $10 a bottle, so I admit it’s a tempting choice when large quantities are involved. If you want to try something different, Cava (sparkling wine from Spain) is a great alternative and also reasonably priced. It’s typically less fruity than Prosecco though so if that’s what you’re looking for I’d go with a Moscato d’Asti, a sparkling wine from northern Italy that is slightly sweet.
For the Wine Nerd:
For your friend (or yourself) who’s always into the most off-the-beaten-path wines, grab a bottle of Blanquette de Limoux. Made in the southern Languedoc region of France, this is effectively their Cremant equivalent, made from a local grape called Mauzac, or Blanquette. It’s also one of the oldest sparkling-wine producing regions in the country. You’ll get high points for obscurity and there are some great deals to be had here.
For Something Completely Different:
Ever heard of Sekt, the sparkling wine from Germany? Until recently, most of it wasn’t really worth knowing about but there are some producers who really do it right. I recently had a Riesling Sekt at Pear & Ash in NYC that was phenomenal. Austria makes some decent sparkling wines as well (another place to look for great bargains). This is a harder category to navigate without some trial and error, so I recommend finding a wine merchant you trust and asking for their advice.
For the Hipster:
Once only available at a very few Italian restaurants, Lambrusco is making a comeback and can now be spotted all over the hippest of Brooklyn locales. A sparkling red (or rose) wine, it comes from Emilia Romagna in Italy, also home to such delicacies as Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano – which is what you should pair it with. If skinny jeans and mustaches are your jam, then this is what you should be drinking.
For a Special Occasion:
When money is no object, or at least less of an object, look no further than grower Champagne. The “grower” part means that the producer also farmed the grapes. In Champagne, this is actually fairly rare. While you can get great deals on these wines in France, by the time they reach the US (when they do at all) they are fairly pricey. Henri’s Reserve is a website that offers a good selection, starting around $50/bottle (and they ship nationally). Otherwise, this is another occasion to find a good local wine merchant and ask for a recommendation.
Welcome to VinePair’s Week Of Bubbles. We’ll be exploring the world of sparkling wines all week, starting with the basics, and finishing things up with bottles you should buy, picked by a panel of VinePair readers.
- The Quick And Dirty Guide To Sparkling Wines From Around The World
- Our Reader Panel Names The Best Sparkling Wines To Buy Now
- The History Of Champagne Sabering
- Pairing a $3.99 Box of Popeyes with $170 Dom Perignon
- How Sparkling Wines Are Made [INFOGRAPHIC]
- How To Sabre A Bottle Of Champagne
- 4 Sparkling Wine Cocktails Everyone Should Know How To Make
Header image via Shutterstock.com
Adrienne is a native New Yorker who now lives in Napa with a penchant for all things food & beverage. Previously she co-founded Dipsology, a guide to great cocktails in NYC, and she is also a Certified Sommelier. Follow her on twitter @alstillman.