A question I often get this time of year is, “Do you have any Champagne recommendations?” Then people will quickly add, “But I don’t want anything too expensive…” Depending on what you believe to be expensive most Champagnes, available locally, start at around $50. You can sometimes find a sale for a brand in the high thirties, but on average, $50 is the starting point.
Just like, “All that glitters isn’t gold,” all that sparkles isn’t Champagne. A quick primer on Champagne. For a wine to be Champagne, it needs to be from the Champagne region in France, it needs to be produced in a very specific, labor-intensive method, and it can only be made from the following grapes: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Petit Meslier or Arbane.
But of course, bubbly wine isn’t limited to France! Bubbles are fun, and most wine-making countries have some fun bubbly to be enjoyed. My top four sparkling picks below, from all around the world, are not Champagne, but they are perfect to toast the New Year.
From a completely different part of the globe, South Africa, comes MAN Family Wines Brut Méthode Cap Classique. This is my current favorite sparkling wine. It is a sparkling Chenin blanc and it is a show stopper! A peachy nose, with stone fruit, shortbread and white pepper on the palate. It has a wonderful, creamy mouth feel with lively, delicate, bubbles and the finish only makes you want more. It is certified sustainable and it retails for about $20. I sample wines before reading tasting notes or prices, because I don’t want my opinion to be influenced by what I read. I honestly thought this sparkler would retail at $50.
Know someone that just can’t resist rosé? Akakies 2017 sparkling rosé from Greece is the perfect choice. A simply gorgeous, deep, blush color sets this wine apart from other anemic looking sparkling rosés. Dry, but full of fruity flavor, this sparkler is a real crowd pleaser. Full of raspberry notes on the nose and upfront on the palate. A nice dry finish with some notes of white pepper completes this pleasing bubbly. This wine retails at about $23.
Have a friend who loves all things British? Are they obsessed with Harry and Meghan? Still upset over the end of Downton Abbey? Let them enjoy this delightful British sparkler created in the traditional method, Ridgeview Bloomsbury Brut Non-Vintage. It’s lemony and light with a nice mouthfeel and retails for $54.
From Italy, Prosecco DOC Casa Belfi Col Fondo, is a lovely, fun and biodynamic Prosecco. Those wine drinkers that prefer organic wines, or for those looking for low sulfite wines, biodynamic wines are a great choice. For wines to be certified biodynamic, they must already be organic. And for wines to be organic, they must keep the sulfite levels low. This sparkling wine is a cloudy peach color and has delicious, delicate, peach notes on the palate as well. I loved this and felt like it was already so close to a Mimosa or Bellini that it wouldn’t need any juice. This is your perfect New Year’s Day brunch sparkler. And it retails for about $20.