New Year's Eve bubbles for budgets from billionaire to broke
December 28th, 2012
12:30 PM 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.

Though there are plenty of drinks that have had New Year’s connotations over the years—mead, beer, mulled wine, you name it—the bubbly stuff, i.e. Champagne or sparkling wine, is really the spot-on gift if you happen to be headed out to a party or three.

The thing is, wine with bubbles ranges wildly in price; a bottle of 1998 Krug Clos d’Ambonnay will set you back about $2,000, whereas a bottle of André Cold Duck (no vintage on that one, strangely enough) will damage your finances to the tune of $4.50 or so. So, to make life easier, especially in this last-minute-what-do-I-do moment, here are some suggestions.
 
How to buy Champagne (or its cheaper, just as cheery cousins)

You Have Heaps of Cash
There are innumerable possibilities out there, but in terms of quality for cash outlay, it’s hard to beat Krug. The price of the Clos d’Ambonnay mentioned above is absurd, but a bottle of Krug Grand Cuvee - a great Champagne - will set you back $140 or so, and impress the heck out of whoever it is you’re trying to impress.
 
You Have Some Money to Spend, But Aren’t Nuts
Real Champagne (that is, from the Champagne region in France) isn’t inexpensive - the most affordable will run you $30 or so. But quality is high across the region, plus there’s name recognition, always something to consider when bringing a gift. Of the many non-vintage brut (i.e. dry) bottlings out there, two good ones to seek out are the crisp, citrus-inflected Laurent-Perrier Brut LP and the somewhat richer and creamier Gosset Brut Excellence. Both can usually be found for under $35.
 
You Think $20 Is Just Fine, Thank You
Go for a top-quality Cava, Spain’s answer to Champagne. The very best (with a few strangely high-priced exceptions) can be found for under $20, like the aromatic, minerally Raventos I Blanc Brut Reserva, the apple-floral Avinyo Brut Reserva, and the layered 2008 Gramona Gran Cuvee.
 
Actually, Though, $12 Or So Would Be Better
At the $12 level, the best sparkling wine deal around is going to be Prosecco. Fruitier and a touch sweeter in most cases than Cavas or Champagnes, it’s easy to drink, fun, and a bargain (partly because it’s made in a more cost-effective manner, in which the second fermentation that causes the effervescence happens in large tanks, rather than in the bottle). Prosecco is hugely popular, so there are a lot in the market at the moment; some of the most reliable include the Mionetto Prosecco Brut, Bisol’s Jeio bottling, Collalbrigo’s Prosecco di Conegliano Brut, Tiamo (made from organic grapes), and Sciarpa.
 
You’d Really Rather Not Spend Anything
Simplicity itself! Find a bottle of seltzer water, pour out a few ounces, put some vodka and red food coloring in it, and seal it back up. Your friends will be amazed.

More from Food & Wine:

Best New Places to Drink Wine

Best Champagne Cocktails

Top 50 Cocktail Bars in America

Best Hotel Bars

2013 Cocktail Trends

Previously:

5@5 – The razzle dazzle of Champagne
How to buy Champagne (or its cheaper, just as cheery cousins)
Bargain bubbly for the holidays
Five "Under The Radar" Sparkling Wines: Gary Vaynerchuk

© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Filed under: Bubbly • Content Partner • Entertaining • Food and Wine • Holidays • HolidayShopping • New Year's • New Year's • Sip


soundoff (34 Responses)
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    June 22, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Reply
  2. TomTheBarMan

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    February 25, 2013 at 11:36 am | Reply
  3. Freddy Mercury

    I keep Moet et Chandeau in a pretty cabinet...

    January 1, 2013 at 1:12 am | Reply
  4. are122

    If it isn't Boones Farm, it isn't good wine.

    December 31, 2012 at 8:52 am | Reply
    • The Real Truth

      You win the internet....

      December 31, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Reply
    • Mike

      I prefer Ripple

      December 31, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Reply
  5. DannyB

    If you're on that tight a budget, the best way to go really is to "make your own." Go to your local Trader Joe's, grab a bottle of Two Buck Chuck (Charles Shaw) Chardonnay, and carbonate it using one of those home soda makers. I like the SodaStream line. If you don't live in an area served by TJ's, just use whatever cheap dry white wine you can find.

    December 31, 2012 at 7:33 am | Reply
    • The Real Truth

      I love the Two Buck Chuck Shiraz.....that's all we ever buy, it's decent stuff!

      December 31, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Reply
    • frank

      don't use wine on a sodastream! those machines ONLY carbonate water. otherwise the wine will shoot up into the machine and you will have a huge mess to clean up

      December 31, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Reply
  6. Cristie

    I haven't found any here in the USA yet but Cartizze Prosecco is amazing, if you can get your hands on some. I'd never heard of it until I was in Treviso a few years ago. Yum!

    December 30, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Reply
  7. jifener25

    How about andre, the 3 buck "sparkling wine"? make mimosas, and you'll never know the difference. and if you're the type to go through it (or are having a large group of people out) it's better to go cheap.

    December 30, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Reply
  8. pdxrosesnthorns

    What about grower champagnes? They are a great way to get 1er Cru value for a nice price. I like vairous of the Gimonnet (and Gimonnet et Fils) and A. Margaine bottlings.

    December 30, 2012 at 1:00 am | Reply
  9. Bayougal

    Would have appreciated a few more selections in the lower price range. Don't like the sweeter options!

    December 29, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Reply
  10. PD

    I'm far from an expert, but I've had some $400+ bottles and many in the $100 range and the best I've ever had was 1996 Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millenaires. Can still be had for just under $200 when you can find it, but that's becoming increasingly difficult. For sparkling wine, love the 2006 Domaine Carneros Le Reve Blanc de Blancs.

    December 29, 2012 at 10:39 am | Reply
  11. Napa Girl

    Napa Mums Brut, how could it not even get a mention? Maybe I'm spoiled living in Napa, but this is the best bottle for around $20

    December 29, 2012 at 12:44 am | Reply
    • Ashley

      Agreed! I live in the Bay Area and had Mum Napa at a New Years party a few years ago and fell in love with it! BTW...it's on sale at safeway right now for $12.99/bottle. Sweet! :)

      December 30, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Reply
  12. Bellanca

    Was the vodka and seltzer supposed to be a joke??

    I"d hope so...

    December 29, 2012 at 12:06 am | Reply
  13. Jeff

    What a snobby article. The writer's blatant looking-down on those "lesser" than he makes him look like a jackass.

    December 28, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Reply
  14. Robert Platt Bell

    I mean, seriously. Seltzer and vodka?

    Talk about no class whatsoever – and no taste.

    Sounds like a recipe for barf.

    December 28, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Reply
    • Tio Franco

      Agreed!

      December 28, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Reply
  15. Robert Platt Bell

    "You’d Really Rather Not Spend Anything
    Simplicity itself! Find a bottle of seltzer water, pour out a few ounces, put some vodka and red food coloring in it, and seal it back up. Your friends will be amazed."

    Who writes this garbage? College kids?

    December 28, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Reply
    • Tio Franco

      Agreed!

      December 28, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Reply
  16. Mensaboy

    Not worth the time to read.

    December 28, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Reply
    • Tio Franco

      Not worth your time to read... Yet you couldn't resist the urge to pontificate about it. ROTFLMFAO!!!
      "Mensboy"... How pretentious. Are even old enough to consume alcohol?

      December 28, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Reply
  17. Robert Platt Bell

    Juame Serrra Cristalino Brut Cava – $6.99 at the wholesale club, and sometimes less with the dollar-off coupons on the neck.

    I keep a case chilled at all times of the year. Sparkling wine can be enjoyed any time. It is not just for weddings, new years, and special occasions.

    To the Frixnet lovers above, that is also a nice choice. But check out Juame Serra Cristalino sometime – it is drier and and a smoother taste to it.

    A nice little Spanish Cava. We are going to Spain in the spring, where I understand you can get it for 2.5 Euros. I'll do my part to help the Spanish economy.

    "Not to be confused with Louis Roerder's Critsal Pimp Juice" – it says so, right on the label!

    December 28, 2012 at 10:58 pm | Reply
    • Tio Franco

      Sounds good, Bob. Thanks for the recommendation. I love the Spanish Cavas!

      December 28, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Reply
    • Ms. Grammar

      THANK YOU SO MUCH! Just bought my first, but definitely not my last bottle of Jaume Serra Cristalino. What a wonderful wine. And only $7.67 a bottle.

      December 31, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Reply
  18. Julia

    Prosecco is also an excellent alternative.

    December 28, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Reply
  19. bsspotter

    This is a fluff piece like most of these Internet articles. What about California sparkling wines? Or don't they sell those at your East Coast supermarket?

    December 28, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Reply
  20. Tio Franco

    No mention of Freixenet in the modestly priced Cava category? Unbelievable! Just because they over hype at the Holidays, doesn't mean that the product is not quite good.

    December 28, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Reply
    • KD

      I love Freixenet. We put several bottles on every table at our wedding and always drink it every New Year's. It's no Moet, but it's pretty darn good for the price.

      December 28, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Reply
      • Robert Platt Bell

        Frixnet was my favorite inexpensive Cava, but it does have a bit of a metallic edge to it. And the price has been edging up as late.

        I found Juame Serra Cristalino at the wholesale club. The trademark disclaimer on the label cracked me up (who would confuse a $6.99 bottle of Cava with a $699 bottle of overpriced Champagne) – so I had to buy it.

        Every time I go back there, it is easy to find on their "wall of wine" – just look for the big hole in the sparkling section. I'm not the only one, apparently. Usually, I end up buying all they have.

        They also make a Brut Rose, which is almost red in color. For some reason it never scans properly at checkout.

        December 28, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Reply
      • Tio Franco

        Good to see there are a few others who appreciate. Not grande, by any means. But especially at Holidays, when you have large gatherings and have family and friends like mine, where you *know* some of them are good to suck down at least a bottle a piece...
        Freixenet is excellent quality and doesn't break the budget. And no one will be looking through the bin of empties in the garage to see if it was Cook's or André. LOL

        December 28, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Reply

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