Bargain bubbly for the holidays
December 12th, 2011
09:05 AM ET
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Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.

The season of toasts is upon us, which means the season of buying truckloads of sparkling wine is here too. Not being a millionaire, I'm looking for bargains, and when it comes to bubbles right now, that means prosecco (from Italy) and cava (from Spain).

Generally speaking, prosecco is a touch fruitier, more peachy; cava is drier, with more of a citrus and green apple character. But both open with the requisite festive pop.

Mionetto Prosecco Brut ($12)
A handy standby that's widely available and fresh and zesty. It’s now also available in magnums - i.e. double-size bottles - which look cool and are ideal for parties (they run $25).

Fantinel Prosecco ($14)
A light touch of sweetness gives this prosecco an appealing generosity - and also makes it ideal for brunches as well as midnight toasts.

Nino Franco Rustico ($17)
A notch up in price but a notch up in complexity too, Nino Franco comes from a family-owned winery founded in 1919. (Remember that most wine shops offer discounts if you purchase by the case, usually 10 or 15 percent.)

Segura Viudas ($12)
Made from the traditional cava grapes (Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo) and named after a 11th century watchtower (hence "secure views"), it has unexpected elegance given its price.

Casteller Brut Cava ($10)
Mighty darn tasty - that’s the technical wine description - and full of juicy citrus/citrus-peel notes, this affordable cava comes from the Catalan town of Vilafranca.

Reginato Celestina Rosé of Malbec ($12)
A bit of a sidestep on my part, this sparkling wine isn't actually from either Spain or Italy but Argentina. It also happens to be a rosé, with appealing strawberry and floral notes.

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© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Filed under: Bubbly • Content Partner • Food and Wine • Sip • Wine

soundoff (12 Responses)


    December 13, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
  2. CherylB

    My favorite New Years Eve sparkling wine is Gloria Ferrer's Va Da Vi, the muscat adds a little touch of sweetness :-)

    December 13, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • CherylB

      Sorry, that is Gloria Ferrer Va De Vi... only $15-20 bottle :-)

      December 13, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  3. Tim Knecht

    "named after a 11th century watchtower (hence "secure views"), it has unexpected elegance given its price.

    Jeez. can we really trust people who don't know to use "an" to modify 11th? Just say both aloud, and see which works. Duh.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  4. GsMama

    I love cremants, especially Lucien Albrecht Cremant D'Alsace. It's reasonably priced and all of my guests like it.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  5. Wolvrne88

    Gruet sparklers from New Mexico are delicious and an excellent value. And I highly recommend L. Mawby sparkling wines from the beautiful Leelanau Peninsula of Michigan. Their best products are made using the traditional methode champenoise while excellent sparklers at a great price can be found under their M. Lawrence label. These products are made using the cuve close method of wine making employing stainless steel tanks. You must try the L. Mawby "Conservency" Extra Sec ($24/750ml) – $2 of every bottle sold goes to the Farmland Preservation Fund of the Leelanau Conservency dedicated to the preservation of farmland in perpetuity. Nice touch. Cheers!

    December 12, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • Chiapaneco

      I second the vote for Gruet. It's my "go to" sparkler...fresh, consistent and flavorful. Good call, Wolvrne88!!!

      December 13, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  6. VegFreak

    "Viudas" does not mean "views," it means "widows." "Vistas" is Spanish for "views."

    December 12, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  7. Pablo

    For $7.99, Cristolino from Spain is the best out there–slightly dry, smooth, good by itself or with food. Best bargain bubbly I've ever had.

    December 12, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  8. Chef Sun

    Rather expensive for Cavas and Proseccos. You're better off getting Calif. sparkling or French Mousseux.


    December 12, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
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