Delicious Alternatives to Champagne

Champagne is the ultimate celebration, but sadly not always in the budget. But just because we’re watching our wallets doesn’t mean we should deprive ourselves of the cheerful sounds of popping corks or the dance of bubbles in our glass! On the contrary, we just diversify!

There are many wonderful sparkling wines from around the world, many of which are made the exact same way as in Champagne, but because they don’t come from the prestigious French region, also don’t come with the steep price tag.

Here are some excellent alternatives to please your palate and your pocket:

Prosecco…from Italy
Prosecco is definitely the hip trend of the moment (but then the Italians know a thing or two about style!) and for good reason. Prosecco is from the Northeast of Italy and is usually very light, fruity and frothy (and can be slightly sweet at times). Think fresh pears and soft bubbles. It’s not one of the more serious wines, but many do have a delicate complexity. Prosecco is sure to please the guests at your next garden party! Try La Marca, Prosecco Corte Alta or Riccardo.

Riccardo Prosecco

Cava…from Spain
You may be familiar with the black bottles of Freixenet or the swirling gold letting of Codorníu which are both fine examples, but there are many other lesser known Cavas to try as well and all at extremely attractive prices. Many supermarkets will have their own brand of Cava which are usually very good and certainly worth a try.

Cava is one example of a sparkling wine made in the ‘traditional method’ as in Champagne, so you’re likely to find similar characteristics of apple, nuts, biscuits etc. For even more complexity and appeal, try the vintage version, the price will be slightly higher, but still a bargain compared to vintage Champagne. Keep an eye out for Segura Viudas, Castillo Perelada and Pares Balta.

Cavas from Pares Balta

Sparkling wine…from England
Yes, England. It’s a country rapidly building a reputation as producers of top class sparkling wines. Unfortunately they can be a bit pricey, but still well worth seeking out – especially if you’ve never had one. The soils in the south of England (Kent, Sussex) where the vineyards are located are similar to those across the Channel in Champagne and are ideally suited to the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes used in the wines. Start your experiment with any of these producers: Nyetimber, Chapel Down, Denbies, Balfour, Ridgeview and Camel Valley.

Balfour Brut Rose

France…regions outside of Champagne. In many wine producing areas of France, they make sparkling wines called Crémant. These are made in the ‘traditional method’ and by law, the grapes must be hand-picked and the wine aged for at least a year before release. They are becoming more and more widely available and thus very popular. They tend to be lighter and more easy-drinking than their cousins in Champagne, but certainly bring the sparkle to any occasion. Look for Crémant from Loire, Alsace, Bourgogne (Burgundy), Bordeaux and Limoux.

Cremant de Limoux

Australia, New Zealand, California and Oregon all produce sparkling wines many of which are excellent quality and range between very affordable to mid-priced. The grape varieties used are usually the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir of Champagne, but most of the New World areas have warmer climates so the flavors trend towards a richer, riper style. Look out for wines from Australia (Tempus Two, Jansz (Tasmania)); New Zealand (Deutz, Pelorus by Cloudy Bay); California (Roederer Quartet, Domaine Carneros of Taittinger fame) and Orgeon (Argyle).

Tempus Two Blanc de Blancs

When Champagne is called for there is no alternative, like Napoloeon said “In victory you deserve Champagne, in defeat you need it”! But when we want to satisfy a desire for bubbles while maintaining a healthy bank balance, any of these sparkling wines will surely fit the bill.

There’s always time for wine!

Tara – Wine Passionista

I look forward to hearing from you – please comment below, Tweet this blog and Share on Facebook – thanks!

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