Budget-Friendly Bubbly for the New Year

Photo (cc) by e_calamar

Ringing in the New Year consists of two must-dos: the final countdown and celebrating with a bottle of bubbly. But if you don’t have Champagne on hand – or simply don’t want to pay the high price – there are cheaper alternatives that taste just as good.

Champagne can be pricey: An affordable bottle of the real stuff – the one produced in the Champagne region of France – can cost $40 and up. But can people really tell the difference between that and a cheaper alternative? During our Money Talks News holiday party, we did a blind taste test of real Champagne and sparkling wine. Check out Stacy Johnson‘s video to see the surprising results…

Now that you’ve watched our blind taste test unfold, we’ll serve up some recommendations for cheap alternatives to Champagne. According to sommelier Matt Horbund from A Good Time With Wine, you can still pop the cork this New Year’s Eve with these tasty sparkling wines:

If you’re looking for something inexpensive yet tasty, Horbund recommends Cava, a sparkling wine from Spain. Brands like Freixenet and Rondel sell a variety anywhere from $7-$15.

Want to stick to France but not Champagne? Louis Bouillot has a variety of sparkling wines from Burgundy that range from extra dry to sweet and citrusy, anywhere from $15-$30. Horbund says he almost always has a bottle of Lamberti Prosecco reserved, averaging about $15 a bottle.

Even the continental United States offers up some great varieties, with sparkling wines from California. The J Vineyards & Winery Cuvee 20 Sparkling Wine from Sonoma (around $25-$30) and Barefoot Bubbly Rose Cuvee (from $8-$15) are delicious domestic options that are sweeter and fruitier than their overseas counterparts.

For the real stuff straight from Champagne, Horbund says you can’t go wrong with Pol Roger White Foil Brut Reserve. As low as $40 at some online retailers like The Wine Stop, grab this bottle to show off that you know what Champagne really is and where it comes from.

There’s no hard and fast rule that says you need to toast with Champagne at the strike of midnight. If you’re looking for a simple alternative, Horbund says a simple red or white wine without bubbles can be just as tasty.

How do you ring in the New Year? Tell us on our Facebook page.

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