The Best Widely Available Champagnes and Sparkling Wines
Whether you’re stocking up for parties, or just buying a bottle for NYE, these will not disappoint.
As Seen In Country Living December 2022
By Christopher Michel
“Champagne has such an air of elegance about it that it can be intimidating. Add to that the fact that if you open a bottle, you typically feel compelled to drink it all right away, and it can become, for some of us, a thing that we only drink on the rarest of occasions, even if we like other wines.
But it’s worth dipping a (fizzy) toe into the world of sparkling wines, if you haven’t before. There are many great wines, not just Champagne and Prosecco, that offer a world of flavors and tastes without breaking the bank. They can be good for hoisting a glass as part of your New Year’s Eve tradition or for sipping on while munching potato chips (try this) while you Netflix and chill true crime shows. (A champagne stopper will help save the rest of the bottle for another night.)
First, a very quick explanation about Champagnes and sparkling wines:
What Is Champagne vs Prosecco vs Sparkling Wine?
There are two primary methods for making sparkling wine. The oldest is often called Champagne-style, or bottle-fermented. This is when still wine is put in a bottle with yeast, and the fermentation causes the bubbles. All sparkling wine in Champagne (and lots and lots of wine everywhere else) is made like this.
A newer method (often called the Charmat method, after inventor Eugène Charmat) is to let the bubbles form when the wine is fermented in giant sealed tanks and then bottle it, bubbles and all. Nearly all Prosecco is made this way. (Prosecco wine is named after the Italian village of Prosecco, and Italy controls what wine is called Prosecco in much the same way France controls what wine is called Champagne.)
While it’s true that, in general, Prosecco style winemaking can be most cost effective and so less expensive, there are expensive and cheap bottles of both kinds available, and there are tasty (and not so tasty) bottles of sparkling wine made all over the world.
For celebrating, we tend to prefer bottle-fermented wines, and for mixing we tend to recommend Charmat method, but as with most things there’s no wrong way to do it, as long as you’re enjoying yourself.
Below, find five of our favorite wines and kinds of wine both in and outside France and Italy, as well as some advice on how to find it so you can try it yourself.”
Champagne Style Outside France
“It might surprise you, but one of the best places to get Champagne-style wine outside France is in South Africa. Specifically Graham Beck Brut NV, which ranks high enough to have been served at Presidential inaugurations.
Availability: We’ve seen this more than once in some grocery stores, as well as in most wine shops, but if you don’t see it, try asking. It shouldn’t be difficult for your local wine shop to source.”