Some Great Sparkling Wines
Sparkling wines are some of the best wines in the world. Of course we have wines from Champagne, and some Champagnes like Cristal, Bollinger Grand Annee, Dom Perignon Rose, and many others you may or may not have heard of are amongst the greatest wines on the planet, and priced accordingly. There are also other lesser known sparkling wines from France, both Champagne and other regions, and from places as diverse as New Mexico, Massachusetts, California, South Africa, and Spain that make really good, often exceptional, sparklers!
First a quite word on terms. A Sparkling wine is wine with bubbles in it. Champagne is sparkling wine, but only sparkling wine from the region of France known as Champagne is Champagne. Also, the grapes must be grown in certain vineyards, and the wine must be made using a specific technique.
Sparkling wines are often thought of in terms of celebrations, and sure enough they are great for celebrations. However they are also great everyday wines, especially when you are paying under $20 a bottle. They are incredibly versatile food wines, and go well with seafood, chicken, pork, and just about anything other than a big piece or red meat. They are also made in lots of different styles: even wines from Champagne have very different flavors and one from Bouzy grapes will taste very different from one made from grapes from Cramant.
They also come in various bottle sizes, from big to small bottles, suitable for big parties or perhaps a split of half bottle for a quiet evening at home.
What I always suggest is simply going to your local store and buying a few within your price range to see what you like. We all have different tastes, and if you like it, quite simply then it is good. The enormous advantage to a wine specialty shop, which might be part of a larger liquor store, is intelligent employees who can make recommendations. You will rarely get this at supermarket for example, or at a discount store.
Some areas to look for values absolutely include South Africa. I prefer their Blanc de blancs first, which are 100% Chardonnay, their Bruts next, and lastly their Roses, although your tastes may vary. Basically, they are all good and inexpensive. What is available in your area will vary.
Spain is also a treasure trove of bargains. Cava, or Spanish sparkling wine, is cheap, tasty, and fun.
Argyle in Oregon makes killer sparklers, Gruet in New Mexico rocks, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand makes good ones too. It all depends on what is available in your area, and what you like.
Don’t write off Champagne for values either. Grower Champagnes in particular, made by the farmers who grow the grapes themselves, and can be relative bargains and awesome!
Always remember the bottles you like. I’ve had problems with finding a bottle I loved, and having in thrown away or recycled before I could note its name! I now take pictures of all the bottles I love with my cell.