I like bubbles. I like bubble baths, and more importantly, bubbly drinks. The ultimate in relaxation for me is a bubble bath with a glass of Champagne. I’ve made it my mission to celebrate almost every occasion, but I can’t afford to drink Veuve Clicquot every day. That’s why I set out to find alternatives to the traditional and more expensive Champagnes that I adore.
Champagne refers to sparkling wines that come from the Champagne region of France and made following strict production rules known as the traditional method. Champagnes are usually a bit more expensive per bottle than their non-region counterparts and can be quite pricey. My favorite, Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label, can sometimes be found at local stores for less than $50 per bottle, but at a hotel or restaurant it is usually near $100 per bottle. Here are some bubbly substitutes to consider the next time you’re looking to celebrate, on a budget:
Non Champagne sparkling wines – While Champagne may be popular, it isn’t the first place to make sparkling wine in France. That distinction goes to the Limoux wine region, and most notably the abbey at Saint-Hilaire. I like Saint-Hilair Blanquette de Limoux. This particular sparkling wine can be purchased between $10-$15 at your local grocery.
Prosecco – This sparkling white Italian wine is the main ingredient of the Bellini Cocktail (invented at Harry’s Bar in Venice) and is an affordable option for bubbly. I’m not a big fan of Prosecco frizzante, which stops forming bubbles as soon as it is poured, making it seem flat for my taste. Prosecco is best enjoyed young for optimal taste and shouldn’t sit too long on a shelf. Prosecco has been gaining popularity in the last two years. Most Proseccos can be found around $12-$15 per bottle. My choice for Prosecco is Mionetto Sergio Prosecco (less than $20), a non-vintage that is a bit dry and fruity. It seems to retain its bubbles longer than the frizzante.
Cava – This is the Spanish version of bubbly, made in the traditional method of Champagne. Spanish sparkling wines made through other methods are labeled as vinos espumosos and cannot carry the name of cava. I’m not a big fan of cava, but when in a pinch it will do. The best I’ve found is the Segura Viudas Brut Reseva Heredad Cava ($20) which makes a nice wedding gift. The bottle is hand blown and sits on a pewter pedestal and has a metal crest on the front of the bottle. The most popular and affordable Cava is Cristalino Brut Cava that runs right around $8 at the local grocery.
Sparkling Wines – California produces the product closest to Champagne in the USA. One of my favorite US sparkling wines is Francis Ford Coppola Winery Sofia Blanc de Blancs(less than $20), which is totally girly in both bottle and taste. I can usually find this particular wine at Whole Foods. Korbel Brut is my runner up in favorite US sparkling wines. It can usually be found almost anywhere, even Walmart, for less than $15 a bottle. There are a few cheaper options of US sparkling wines, such as Cook’s ($6), but I only prefer that for a mimosa when I’m in a pinch.
What are some of your favorite alternatives to Champagne? What do you drink for celebrations? I’m always on the lookout for new wines to try, whether I’m celebrating a momentous occasion or just living it up for the day.