Cocktails & Spirits

Sparkling Wine on a Budget

New Year's Eve is T-Minus a few hours away. Whether the party is at your buddy's crib or at a club on the beach, one thing is for sure -- Champagne! Popping bottles is a celebratory ritual practiced all over the world on December 31.

But what do you do when you can't afford Champagne? Remember, Champagne is a sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne. There are a slew of sparkling wines made all over the world that offer the same sort of popping, bubbly satisfaction.

If partying it up at a house party is the route you're taking, help your buds out by chipping in with some last minute shopping, i.e. booze. This is code for, "Don't show up empty handed. It's tacky."

Here are a few great sparkling wine options to greet 2011 in style.

Prosecco is a sparkling wine from northern Italy, primarily the Veneto, made from the prosecco grape that provides great bang per buck. It is generally fruity, light and fun and at an average price of $12-$15 a bottle, it's non-committal and a general crowd pleaser. Some top picks for prosecco are Nino Franco Rustico, NV, Veneto, It and Fantinel Prosecco Brut, NV Friuli, It. Both are dryer styles of prosecco great on their own or with a touch of Creme de Cassis or Creme de Peche.

Cava is the famous sparkler made in the "traditional style", like Champagne, from a few regions in Spain. We are most familiar with the ones coming from the Catalonian region of Penedes. Generally made with Xarello, Parellada, and Macabeo, the wine is crisp and lively with an aggressive effervescence. The one we've selected falls out of the cava tradition, but presents such value and quality we couldn't help ourselves. Caves LLopart produces a gorgeous pink sparkler made with grenache, monastrell and pinot noir. At under $25, this full bodied, rose delivers class and style wrapped in a huge pink bow. Strawberries and cream anyone?

Vouvray Petillant
If you're a bit off the cuff and feel like being a little risk-ay, try a sparkling wine from the Loire Valley in western France. The famous grape from this region is sauvignon blanc, but the unsung hero is the chenin blanc grape. It produces wines of all styles - sweet, dry, still, sparkling - and can present great values from some of the less famous appellations. This brings us to our pick for Vouvray Petillant, the sparkling version of Vouvray. A region in itself, it is ridden with great, quality-driven winemakers and one such winery is Foreau. Foreau's Vouvray Brut is a straw color with a fine, prickly perlage (wine-speak for bubbles) and tons of white fruit like white peaches, asain pear and wildflower honey. It is a wonderfully tart and crisp choice at under $18.00 a bottle.

Retailers that stock some of these wines locally:
Best Time Wine, 5792 Southwest 8th Street, West Miami, 305-443-6070
Sunset Corners, 8701 SW 72nd St, Miami, 305-271-8492
W Wine Boutique, 1328 Alton Road, Miami Beach, 305-673-8282

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