Weekend Wines

Affordable bubbly beyond Champagne

Dec. 28, 2012 at 3:31 PM ET

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Don't spend a pretty penny on bubbly, try these tasty and more affordable options.

There is a reason we drink sparkling wine on New Year’s Eve, whether it’s Champagne or any number of good alternatives. With its effervescence, nothing in a glass is quite so festive and uplifting. Bubbly is a metaphor for our ascent into a new year, for moving ahead and forward from the past.

I used to be a Champagne purist. Nothing but the authentic wine from the Champagne region of France,  a region that spends millions of dollars each year defending the right to its name against those who use Champagne as a catch-all word for sparkling wines. I happen to agree with the Champagne folks on this.

But I have also come to appreciate lots of other sparklers over the years. They might not have quite the richness and elegance of Champagne or the fancy name, but then again, you’ll pay a fraction of the $40 or $50 or more that a bottle of Champagne typically costs.

I mentioned Cava from Spain in last week’s post. Another great possibility is Prosecco from Italy’s Veneto region. Prosecco is both the name of the wine and the grape, and a first-rate example comes from Bocelli Family Wines, run by the tenor Andrea Bocelli and his brother Alberto.

A few months ago I wrote about their excellent $14 Tuscan red, and I found the Prosecco Extra Dry equally impressive when I tasted it this week. It’s clean, bright and refreshing with lemon and green apple notes and a slightly creamy finish. With an average price of $18 on Wine-Searcher, it’s a great wine for a New Year’s gathering.

Beyond Champagne, just about every other region of France produces its own version of sparkling wine, and one of the best is Alsace, which is adjacent to Germany. The sparkling wine there is called Crémant d’Alsace, and one to look for is from Gustave Lorentz, whose $23 crémant is fruity and generous with lots of citrus, especially orange, along with cream and toast notes.

Edward Deitch is a James Beard Award-winning wine critic. Find many more of his wine reviews and commentary on his blog, Vint-ed.com, and follow him on Twitter

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