Expect excellent quality sparkling wines from all places but Champagne.
$20–$30 – Getting Sophisticated
What does $10 more get you? About as close as you get to Champagne’s quality without paying for it. As this is a step up, these wines are for events where you need to do precisely that. An impressive wine that impresses. Perfect for your boss’ place, a fancy dinner party, or a sophisticated shindig where seemingly everyone knows something about wine. (Think anyone in New York or equally self-important cities.)
Bonus: You can buy at least one quality cooperative Champagne (What’s a cooperative?) by Nicolas Feuillatte for $29.99. While we have some examples, at this point, it’s useful to do a little extra homework on your smartphone (see tips below).
What You Get: Domestic Sparklers (Good), Reserva or Gran Reserva Cava (Excellent), Crémant (Excellent), Franciacorta (Good), Blanc de Blanc (Great), Sekt (Good)
Some Helpful Tips
- Wine isaged on the lees, and age is a pretty good indication of quality. For example, vintage Champagne must be aged a minimum of 36 months.
- Try the Italian Champagne alternatives, including Franciacorta DOCG or Trento DOC. Both are Chardonnay-based sparklers from Italy.
- Look up the varieties used to get a better idea of the taste profile you’re getting.
- Blanc de Blancs or Chardonnay-dominant? Expect more apples, starfruit, beeswax, and honeycomb.
- Blanc de Noirs or Pinot-dominant? Expect white cherry, white raspberry, mushroom, and a touch more funk.
- Macabeo, Xarello, or Parellada? These wines are typically leaner with quince, lime, and green apple notes.
A Few Examples
- Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut Sparkling Wine
- Scharffenberger “Excellence” Mendocino County Brut Sparkling Wine
- Domaine Carneros Brut California Sparkling Wine
- Schramsberg “Mirabelle” California Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine
- Ferrari Brut Trento DOC
- Bellavista “Alma Cuvée” Brut Franciacorta DOCG
- Loxarel MM Gran Reserva Brut Nature Cava
- Nicolas Feuillatte “Réserve” Brut Champagne