Take the pain out of Champagne!

There’s nothing more festive than popping the cork on a bottle of delicious bubbles during the holiday season. While movie stars and rappers may have the financial means to sip Dom Perignon with their Condor egg omelets Christmas morning, average Joes like myself have to find more financially viable options for our holiday sparkling wine.

While “real” Champagne from the region of the same name in France will run you a minimum of $45-$50 here in Alberta, there is a whole world of high quality sparkling wines out there just waiting for you too explore. I present you with some ideas that will allow you to feed your need for bubbles while avoiding the painful sting of eviction.

Cava – Spain delivers some of the worlds best value wines and Cava is a perfect example. Hailing mainly from the region of Penedes in Catalonia, Cava is made using the traditional Champagne Method (the highest quality method of making sparkling wine). While produced in a variety of styles most of the Cava you will find on your local wine store’s shelf will be dry, crisp and refreshing. Cava is made from interesting local grapes including Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo, as well as international varietals such as Chardonnay. A good quality Cava can compete with a “true” Champagne in complexity often for half the price. My favourite producers include Agusti Torrelo, Marques de Gelida and Segura Viudas.

Prosecco – Prosecco has been rocketing upward in popularity in recent years and with its dangerously easy-drinking nature and excellent price point it’s not hard to see why. Produced from the grape variety of the same name, Prosecco is produced in the Veneto region of Italy. Although generally not as complex as Champagne, its gentle demeanor and fruit-forward style cause Prosecco to move off liquor store shelves faster than a fleeing Tiger Woods in a Cadillac Escalade. Safe Prosecco bets include Canella, Nino Franco and Bastianich “Flor”.

Cremant – The term Cremant is used to indicate sparkling wines produced outside of the area of Champagne in France. Made using the traditional method, Cremant wines can offer outstanding value and are often my personal choice for sparkling consumption. Cremant wines are produced in several regions in France with some common examples being Cremant d’Alsace, Cremant de Bourgogne, Cremant de Jura and Cremant de Loire. Do yourself a favour and try at least one of these delightful tipples this holiday season!

North American Sparkling Wines – Yes, I realize this is an extremely general category but I have neither the time nor the patience to separate these at the moment, so you will have to suck it up. From California to Oregon, British Columbia to Ontario there are some pretty darn tasty bubblies made right in our own backyard. Generally made from a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, sparkling wines from our great continent can offer exceptional bang for the buck. Personal favourites include Domaine Carneros from California, Argyle from Oregon, Vineland from Ontario and Sumac Ridge from British Columbia.

I hope these suggestions help you pop a little more cheer this holiday season. Also, don’t forget that sparkling wine can be a great pairing with turkey dinner, shellfish and a wide range of other foods.

Best regards and happy holidays,

Jesse

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