Sparkling Wines for NYE that are cheaper than Champagne
By Laura Fagan Published December 2021
Raising a glass of Champagne to celebrate a new year and new beginnings is a time-honored tradition that spans across cultures and countries. The practice of celebrating with Champagne began in the complex royal courts of Europe in the 18th century where courtiers, queens and kings sipped on the expensive elixir to celebrate triumph and good fortune. Champagne was synonymous with wealth and status, and today, similarly stands as such. But celebrating with bubbles doesn’t need to crush your budget. If you are craving the signature sparkle of Champagne, without the stuffy price tag – we have affordable alternatives that can be sipped and shared in celebration. Our ABC wine experts, Heather Burton and Dan Eddy, share four Champagne alternatives for your holiday celebrations that are likely to become new favorites.
Prosecco is an inspired Italian alternative to Champagne that is extremely popular and budget-friendly. Its history and heritage are as old and opulent as Champagne; however, it is made with a different grape and fermentation method than French Champagne.
Heather reveals the wine is, “….light, it’s fruity, it’s refreshing and it is not too fussy.” This value wine delivers dreamy vivacity and flavors that beg for celebration and the bottles are typically priced at half the cost of Champagne. Made from glera prosecco grapes from Veneto in Northeastern Italy - prosecco is delicate and light on the palate, leading with flavors of orchard fruits. Prosecco’s fizz is the result of fermentation in a tank, called the Charmat method, versus in a bottle - like Champagne production. This gives the wine its sought-after crisp character and, fortunately for us, better pricing. Dan adds that most prosecco wines are extra-dry, which expresses a bit sweeter than a brut, making it both appealing and affordable. If prosecco sounds perfect to stock your New Year’s Eve bar - Dan recommends Collalto Extra Dry DOCG Prosecco as a personal favorite which he admires for the delicious fruit flavors, enticing bubbles and easy sipping.
Bottles to Try
La Bella Prosecco
Collalto Prosecco Rosé
Cava is a captivating sparkling wine from Spain that is made in the same method as Champagne, known as Methode Traditionnelle, but with different grapes. Spanish sparkling wine is available at a much lower price point without compromising on quality. Cava is made throughout the country, but the majority is produced in Penedés - which is a region of Catalonia. Dan shares that cava is similar stylistically to Champagne but offers a unique flavor profile that complements savory foods. Fruit flavors are not as pronounced and mineral and herb notes layer on the palate. Cava is an elegant, inexpensive sparkler to pair with tapas and appetizers or to use as a base for simple cocktails like a mimosa. Heather adds that significant skill, craftsmanship and care go into a bottle that costs less than $15 - making cava a fantastic choice for celebration.
Bottles to Try
Cune Cava Brut
Dominio de la Peseta Cava Demi-Sec
Crémant de Bourgogne
In France – Champagne enjoys a lot of attention, but sparkling wines are made throughout the county with flavors that shouldn’t be shadowed. French sparklers produced outside of Champagne are known as crémant wines and are labeled by region. They are produced in many styles and have their own admirable characteristics. They are made using the same method as their pricey cousin, but regionally specific regulations dictate what grapes can be used. Seven French regions produce crémant and, as Heather explains, all must adhere to specific rules. Grapes must be hand-harvested, pressed in whole bunches and the wine must age at least nine months. Crémant wines express with less serious bubbles than Champagne, but boast aromas of apple, grapefruit and pear. Crémant de Bourgogne sparkling wines are the most similar to Champagne. They are made from the same grapes, grown in closest proximity to La Champagne, and vinified using the same fermentation process, but are far less expensive. French sparklers are a great option for those that enjoy a dry style of Champagne and are looking to spend less.
Bottles to Try
Veuve Ambal Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé
Veuve Ambal Crémant de Bourgogne Brut
New World sparklers are another alternative to Champagne that are impressive and priced to enjoy. From California to Brazil – the Americas produce sparkling wines using either Methode Traditionale or Methode Champenoise with the classic grapes of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. These wines are crisp, flirty and tart featuring a distinct citrus character. Dan encourages shoppers to try Treveri Blanc de Blanc Brut for the holidays – it is a bright and lively sparkler from the Columbia Valley of Washington which would also make a perfect base for an Aperol spritz.
Bottles to Try
Treveri Blanc de Blanc Brut
Looking for other table and budget-friendly sparklers for the holidays? Check out Heather and Dan’s top picks above or browse our full sparkling wine offerings on abcfws.com.