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Wine expert Ray Isle is stopping by TODAY to share some of his favorite bottles of bubbly for New Year's Eve in the form of a friendly and festive sparkling wine smackdown.
Sparkling wine is a must for a festive occasion like New Year’s Eve — I mean, how else are you going to toast the start of 2019?
But with so many options out there these days it can be difficult to decipher the best deals at every price point. Here are some fun matchups to help guide your holiday purchases. It's especially fun if you try taste-testing them blind without knowing which wine is which so you can truly let your own palate be your guide.
1. ITALY VS. SPAIN
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Italy: Mionetto Il Prosecco, $10, fave.co
Il Prosecco is the most affordable bottle from this venerable prosecco producer — it’s light and crisp, with apricot notes and a gentle fizziness, it's a perfect party pour.
Spain: Segura Viudas Cava Brut, $9, fave.co
The Segura Viudas estate dates back to the 11th century, when it was home to a fortified watch tower; in 1959 though, the owners began to produce cava, Spain’s signature sparkling wine. In this bottle, you'll find lemon-lime notes, with a touch of earthiness.
2. OREGON VS. CALIFORNIA
Oregon: Sokol Blosser Evolution Brut Sparkling, $20
Longtime Oregon producer Sokol Blosser uses a quirky grab bag of different grape varieties to fashion this crisp, apple/pear-scented sparkling wine, including Semillon, Muller-Thurgau, White Riesling, Pinot Gris, Muscat and Chardonnay. Don’t worry about memorizing everything that goes into this bottle, just enjoy this bubbly at a party with some oysters on the half shell.
California: Chandon Brut Classic Sparkling, $24, fave.co
The traditional method of Champagne production — a second fermentation in the bottle to create the wine’s fizz — is also used for this citrusy, creamy sparkling wine from California. But perhaps that’s not surprising, given that the property is owned by renowned Champagne producer Moet & Chandon.
3. REGULAR CHAMPAGNE VS. ROSÉ CHAMPAGNE
Regular: Lanson Black Label Brut, $45,fave.co
Lanson isn’t as famous as some of the big Champagne names out there, but it has been around just as long —since 1760 — and its delicate, elegant wines are among the best on store shelves. This toasty, finely-etched bottling makes that crystal clear.
Rosé: Louis Roederer Brut Rosé 2012, $75, fave.co
Roederer may be most famous for its ultra-luxurious bottles of Cristal, but every wine that chef du cave Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon produces is exemplary. This vintage rosé has aromas of black currants and citrus fruit, and boasts a long, complex finish.
4. SKY'S THE LIMIT VS. BRILLIANT BARGAIN
Sky's the Limit: Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Rosé 2008, $350, fave.co
La Grande Dame is Veuve Clicquot’s top wine, and the rosé version is even more limited in its production than the blanc. It’s a gorgeous Champagne, released only after it has aged ten years in Clicquot’s cellars. Expect tremendous complexity and layers of toasty berry flavor.
Brilliant bargain : Raventós i Blanc De Nit Rosé 2016, $22, fave.co
Did someone say Champagne tastes on a beer budget? In just a sort time, Raventos i Blanc has become one of Spain’s foremost sparkling wine producers. This floral, red-fruited rosé is made from a blend of grapes local to the Pènedes region just south of Barcelona. The blend includes Xarello and Macabeo grapes, plus a tiny bit of Monastrell to give it a pale rosy hue.