Sparkling Wines Better Than Real-Deal Champagne

So you can afford to splash it around like this. Photo credit: Corbis

A toast! It’s the time of year to break out the bubbly. Here are some great sparkling wines that lack the Champagne name (and thus, will save you a pretty penny).

1. La Marca Prosecco The Italian sparkling wine, under $20 a bottle, boasts an impressive 90/100 score from Wine Spectator. It also gets the thumbs-up from San Francisco Whole Foods’ assistant wine buyer Lyndsay Bazile, who told Yahoo, “We can hardly keep it in stock.”

2. NV Schloss Gobelsburg Brut Réserve The Austrian bubbly has been bottled by monks since the 1100s, according to Julie Cappellano, wine expert at Formaggio Kitchen South End in Boston. “It’s the best non-Champagne wine, ever,” she told Yahoo. The wine blends the native greener veltliner grape with pinot noir and Riesling. “It’s a great drink to pour when guests are just arriving,” Cappellano said. With its creaminess and minerality, it is “very Champagne-like.”

3. Crémant du Jura, Domaine de Montbourgeau
This variety is from the eastern region of France. (Fancy French label, minus the Champagne price tag.) Made from chardonnay grapes, the cold-climate wine is a blanc de blancs bubbly, according to Capellano. With a “nice minerality to it,” it is “totally dry.” Serve with your favorite French cheese, like Comté.

4. Roederer Estate Brut The California sparkler is Napa winemaker Michael Terrien’s go-to choice. Plus, it’s a standout with a Wine Spectator score of 91/100. Terrien described the beverage as tasting of “apple” and “citrus.” And, for around $20 a bottle, “you just can’t beat the price.”

5. El Xamfrà Cava This Spanish sparkling wine is a great option if you’re facing a menu with a dizzying number of choices, Capellano said. Instead of prosecco, which isn’t consistently good, “you’re better off going for Cava. It’s about the same price or cheaper [than prosecco], and the quality is better.”

Once you’ve chosen your fizzy drink, open carefully. To uncork, keep a hand towel over the bottle, and remove the top by turning the bottle slowly with one hand while holding the cork in the other hand, away from you.

Remember: Remove the wire basket under the foil when you’re all ready to open. It’s the only thing between you and a pressurized bottle. Cheers!