Sparkling wine is a vastly under-appreciated and under-consumed slice of the wine world. Most folks use it solely for special occasions and the holiday season, then forget about it.
Fortunately, it is the holiday season, so there are loads of opportunities to slurp down some bodacious bubbles. There will be times when you’ll simply need a good quality sparkling wine as an aperitif or for a group toast. There will also be moments when only Champagne will do. Here are some picks that cover all the bubbly bases.
An excellent choice for your fridge year-round, and particularly useful for holiday gatherings, is the Sommariva Prosecco di Conegliano ($20, Prestige Beverage Group). I was charmed by the body and weight this wine has—an unusual attribute in Prosecco. In its native Veneto, it is regarded as a simple aperitivo. The Sommariva possesses a fine mousse (the bubbles) and a delightful lemon edge. Don’t hesitate to pair this wine with food. It has finesse, style, and length.
New Year’s Eve toasts require something crowd-pleasing and luxurious without too luxe a price, and for that, the Scharffenberger Brut ($23, Republic National) is perfect. Light, slightly fruity, and thirst-quenching at first, this sleek California offering expands on the finish with fresh yeast notes and green melon flavors.
And then there is Champagne. No other sparkling wine can match good Champagne for its combination of sophistication, luxury, and perceived opulence. It’s just the ticket for making an impression or imbuing a moment with a rarified air. I generally eschew offerings from the big Champagne factories in favor of wines from individual growers—“farmer fizz” in the parlance of the business.
My current favorite is Aubry Brut Premier Cru ($50, The Country Vintner). Super fine bubbles, elegant notes of fresh bread and lemon curd, with a fine-grained mineral tone that carries over to the finish. This is Champagne at its best, before getting into luxury cuvées that deliver a bit more quality, but also a hefty bump in price.