There are times when only the best will do and that’s the time for special pricey champagnes. Other times, when entertaining large groups of people or mixing bubbly drinks, less expensive sparkling wines are a better choice. It is in that spirit that I present to you sparkling wines under $30 for the holidays.
My first selection is Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut. This is my “go to” sparkling that is always in my refrigerator. I use Gloria for my specialty New Year’s Eve drink ~Chambord Black Raspberry Liqueur (1/4 oz per flute) topped with sparkling wine and a single raspberry dropped into each champagne flute.
I make this festive drink even more special by caramelizing the rims of the champagne flutes. I melt sugar in a saucepan until the sugar has lightly caramelized and then carefully dip the glass rim into the melted sugar, quickly removing the glass and twisting the glass to catch any drips as the glass is removed from the caramel. Use heavier inexpensive champagne flutes for this, not expensive delicate crystal! (It is a good idea to practice caramelizing the champagne flute rims before your party. As the rims are drying, they will make a “tinkling” noise which surprised me the first time I caramelized flute rims.)
Gloria Ferrer is readily available in our local grocery store.
A delightful sparkling wine from Oregon…Argyle 2011 Vintage Brut
Wine.com tasting notes:
Crafted from the Willamette Valley’s coolest growing season on record, 2011 Vintage Brut offers all you can ask for in true cool-climate sparkling wine. The delicate bouquet is filled with red berry spice, lemon blossom, and toasted brioche. The palate begins with generous plum and gingernut biscuit, yet leads into edgy minerality and briney undertones. The bright 2011 acidity lends itself to the long, energetic finish, begging for Belon oysters.
Wine Spectator – “Light and appealing, with an airy texture and smoky, toasty
watermelon and floral flavors, finishing with expressiveness and length.”
Available at local wine specialty stores. $25 price point – Barrel Chest, Roanoke, Virginia: https://www.barrelchestwineandbeer.com/
Aimery Crémant Brut! Available at Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar, Roanoke, VA, for only $17.
‘Crémant’ sparkling wines are made using the same method as Champagne and with strict regulations around ageing. Ribbons of bubbles and sparkling notes of berries just like your favorite champagne, without breaking the bank. Delicate, fresh with a long, mouth-filling finish. The color of this sparkling blushes just slightly and tiny bubbles consistently rise to the top of glass.
This bubbly makes a lovely holiday hostess gift.
I usually do not gravitate towards Korbel sparkling wine, but recently a bubbly friend of mine served peach Bellinis made with Korbel Sweet Rosé. The Bellinis had a sweet little kick to them and the bottle has a pretty rosy label. $12 at our local grocery store.
Here’s a link to lots of festive Bellini and mimosa recipes:
In the book Hollywood Cocktails, the author Tobias Steed tells the bubbly story about the origins of the Bellini cocktail:
Inspired by the work of the 15th century Italian painter Giovanni Bellini – on account of the brilliant pinks in his paintings – this delicious pairing of champagne and peach juice was created by Giuseppi Cipriani at Harry’s Bar in Venice during the early 1040’s.
Madonna and Child: 1464 Giovanni Bellini
When the occasion calls for “massive amounts of mimosas” ~ when every friend and relative converge on your house at the lake for holiday frivolity ~ a less expensive but reliable bubbly is the answer. Jaume Serra Cristalino Cava can be found for $10 or less a bottle at our local grocery store.
This Virginia sparkling wine just jumped over the $30 price point ($32.99 to be exact), but it’s so delightful and I didn’t want to leave out a bubbly from my home state, so I decided to include it here:
Thibaut – Janisson Virginia sparkling wine. 100% chardonnay with crisp apple and pear notes. The wine’s creator has the experience to make a fabulous wine…so glad he chose Virginia as his home (from The Washington Post):
The wine’s creator, Claude Thibaut, is a blunt-speaking, 57-year-old Frenchman of modest build and a wide-eyed expression that suggests surprise or anticipation, as though he just heard a champagne cork pop. A native of the Champagne region and graduate of the University of Reims, he has made sparkling wine in Australia and in California, where he worked for J, Iron Horse and Kendall-Jackson. Thibaut came to Virginia in 2003 to create the sparkling wine program for Kluge Estate (now Trump winery) near Charlottesville. He started his own label two years later, partnering with his friend Manuel Janisson, proprietor of Champagne Janisson & Fils.
Thibaut – Janisson is available in local specialty grocery and wine stores ~ $33 price point – Eli’s Provisions, Downtown Roanoke -https://www.facebook.com/elisprovisionsroanoke/
for front page holiday news about our fabulous city Roanoke, Virginia!
Happy Bubbly Holidays!