Are you someone who believes bubbly is just for special occasions? Many people think of sparkling wine as a celebratory drink to be reserved for birthdays or weddings or a new year’s toast because the type of sparkling wine most people are familiar with – champagne – is typically quite pricey. But what if I told you it was possible to drink high quality sparkling wine – even champagne if you wished – every day without breaking the bank? Get ready to cheer because the guide below will show you how.
What is the difference between champagne & sparkling wine?
Sparkling wine is a type of wine with the presence of carbon dioxide in the wine – aka bubbles. There are a few different ways to add these bubbles but basically it can be done manually or naturally. The lower quality examples are made manually, meaning carbon dioxide is essentially just injected into the wine. Higher quality sparkling wines are those where the bubbles are allowed to occur naturally. This includes champagne as well as other examples made around the world, many of which can be purchased for $10-$20.
To be clear, Champagne is a type of sparkling wine. It hails from the Champagne region of northern France & is made using a process known as methòde traditionelle – this is a way of adding the bubbles naturally. A second fermentation is initiated inside the same bottle that the champagne is sold in. This results in carbon dioxide being trapped inside. When the bottle is opened, the trapped carbon dioxide tries to escape in the form of the bubbles that we see in the wine. Although this method is used to make high quality sparkling wines around the world, there can be no champagne from California, some other part of France or anywhere else. This is a wine from a specific region using a specific process with a specific set of grape growing & wine making rules.
How to Afford Champagne Every Day
Although champagnes in general are pricey, there is a way to drink champagne every day & not spend a fortune. Of course, they won’t be as inexpensive as other sparkling wines of comparable quality from around the world; but if you are willing to spend $30-$45, you can drink superb quality champagne every day! The secret is to look for ‘grower champagnes’.
Many of the famous champagne brands buy the grapes for their champagnes from growers all over the champagne region. A lot of these growers produce high quality grapes used in some of the top wines made throughout region but they don’t always sell all of their fruit. Often they hold back a portion of their harvest & make their own champagnes under their own label. The result is very limited, small production yet superbly high quality champagne at a fraction of the cost. One example is the Renaudin Brut Champagne for $39.95. Over 80% of the grapes used in this wine hail from the 2009 vintage, making this bottling essentially a vintage champagne. A wine of this type & quality from a famous brand would easily cost over $150. See what I mean?
3 Sparkling Wines That Won’t Break the Bank
If you still want to go lower in price & not sacrifice quality, then you’ll have to turn to sparkling wines made in other parts of the world. Like with most wines, the way to find good deals in sparkling wines is being open to trying wines from lesser known regions. This doesn’t mean you should trust all the inexpensive sparklers you find out there – ‘cause a lot of those end up being exactly what you expect for the price point. But here’s a few high quality styles that typically deliver great bang for the buck.
Cava: This is a type of sparkling wine made in Spain. Cavas are made using the same process as champagne – sometime from the same varietals as champagne, other times from local grapes. Because the soils & climate are different from the champagne region of France, it won’t taste like champagne but cavas are quite tasty in their own right. And very high in quality for their price points. A good cava will have great acidity, depth of flavor & a soft, creamy mousse (the word to describe bubble texture in the mouth). In other words, very similar to champagne with a slightly different palate. On average, they range from $10-15. One of my absolute favorites is the NV Segura Viudas Rosé Cava Brut for $13.50. It’s the perfect pairing with brunch or a charcuterie board.
Prosecco: This is a type of sparkling wine made in Italy. It is made using a different method from champagne (although there are some made in the same way). The method used to make prosecco is called the tank method. In this method, the second fermentation occurs in a large tank as opposed to inside each individual bottle. There are several reasons to use this method but the main purpose is to preserve the fruitiness of the wine. A good prosecco will have great acdity with a delicious array of fruit flavors yet. It shouldn’t be sweet or super fruity – just bright & delicate & refreshing. While prosecco is widely available, good examples are harder to find. Many are available for $10-$15 but I recommend the NV Acinum Prosecco for $12.95. This one is quite a bubbly for the price!
Sparkling wines of France: These might sound generic but they are anything but. Sparkling wines are made all over France & often using the same process as Champagne. Some of these can be great buys because they are not classified as anything special but for this reason, they tend to not be very expensive making them some of the best buys in sparkling wines anywhere. One of the regions to keep an eye out for in particular is the Loire Valley in northern France (north of Champagne). This area produces the most amount of sparkling wines in all of France! A wide variety of styles made from different grapes exist but most are available under $25. One stunner I found is the NV Joel Gigou La Bulle Sarthoise Rose Brut for $21.50. Just simply gorgeous!
There’s so many more sparkling wines to discover but hopefully this list gets you started. Bubbly is for every day. Sip Sip, Hooray!