Tradition tells us to welcome the new year by popping the cork on a bottle of Champagne. But the price of true Champagne can blow a hole in your budget. It runs between $25 and several hundred dollars a bottle.
Many of us use “Champagne” to describe sparkling wine. But real Champagne is made in one particular region of France, which is the reason the word is capitalized.
In the Middle Ages, French kings were crowned by tradition in the city of Reims. After the coronation, the court would spend time in the nearby region of Champagne.
The nobility grew to love and appreciate the wines of Champagne. Demand for sparkling wine grew over the centuries, both in France and England. Champagne was well-positioned to benefit, because its rivers offered routes for transportation. Its fortunes were boosted by the 18th century French ruler Louis XV, who promoted Champagne wines, boosting their reputation and linking them with royalty.
You can read more about the festive drink’s history in Becky Sue Epstein’s “Champagne: A Global History.”
In your quest for affordable bubbly, avoid wines under $10 in order to sidestep the hangover for which super-cheap sparkling wines are famous. Cheaper sparkling wines have plenty of added sugar. Drinking such wines dehydrates you, crushing your skull the next day.
For a drink that’s festive and affordable, here some excellent fizzy alternatives to Champagne:
- Prosecco. Sparkling prosecco wine, from Italy, is known to smell fruitier, and is less “yeasty” than Champagne.
- Crémant. Crémant French wine is a close cousin to Champagne. It is made with the same method but in other regions. Crémant de Bourgogne, for instance, is made in the Burgundy region.
- Cava. This is Spain’s contribution to the world of sparkling wines.
- Sekt. Sekt wines give German grapes sparkle and pop.
We’d love to hear about your favorite celebratory drinks. Share your thoughts by posting below or on Money Talks News’ Facebook page.