Best bubbly for the buck?
December 30, 2008 7:30 AM   Subscribe

Help me find a decent sparkling wine for less than $20.

We're hosting a small, last-minute New Year's Eve gathering. I need a few bottles of champagne just for the midnight toast. (This crowd is more likely to drink cocktails or beer.) We've had an expensive Christmas and I'd like to keep the price tag under $20 per bottle, but there are some status drinkers in the group, so I know I can't break out the Korbel without snickers and sneers. What's cheap but doesn't look or taste like it? I'm open to non-champagne sparklers, as long as they're dry.
posted by libraryhead to Food & Drink (29 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
You might enjoy this article.
posted by Perplexity at 7:35 AM on December 30, 2008

I've had some Proseccos that were fairly good. Inexpensive Italian without being 'Asti'. No way for me to judge from afar whether that would pass muster with your crowd, of course.

I've also had Gruet from New Mexico that I liked. If you can find it, people might find it interesting ("New Mexico? Really??").
posted by gimonca at 7:42 AM on December 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

I second the recommendation in Perplexity's linked article for Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut NV.
posted by TrashyRambo at 7:42 AM on December 30, 2008

There is tons of decent Prosecco available in your price range.

Zardetto is not bad, and is very good for the price.
posted by charlesv at 7:44 AM on December 30, 2008

Find a small wine shop and tell the owner exactly what you just told us. He probably won't even have Korbel or any mass market wines, and he'll happily sell you the best $20 sparkling wine that he has in the shop.
posted by COD at 7:48 AM on December 30, 2008

In blind tests, Domaine Ste. Michelle Cuvee Brut, a $12 sparkling wine from Washington, is preferred nearly two to one to $150 Dom Perignon if you strip away the labels.

Domaine Ste Michelle is a supermarket wine, but I always do what COD suggests. I go to a friendly reputable wine shop and say "I'd like to spend $x on a bottle of [Champagne/red wine/dessert wine] for a group of people with relatively sophisticated tastes." They will not steer you wrong (unless you pick the bad shop). It helps to have a little more information about individual tastes or what you'll be snacking on.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:07 AM on December 30, 2008

Il Prosecco is one of my favorites. We bought several bottles at Whole Foods last year for less than $10 each. Don't let the price fool you - it comes in a neat looking bottle and is one of the tastiest bubblies I've had to date.

Have a great New Year!
posted by siclik at 8:26 AM on December 30, 2008

Useful article here - I like Cristalino - very drinkable Spanish cava for about $7-8 a bottle at Trader Joe's and other places. Cava is more like champagne than Proseco - both are pleasant though.
posted by leslies at 8:28 AM on December 30, 2008

We had some Barefoot Bubbly Extra Dry last night, and it was quite tasty. Can't help you deal with your status drinkers; I'd say screw 'em---if they want snooty drinks, they can bring them.
posted by leahwrenn at 8:28 AM on December 30, 2008

Look for Limoux as an alternative to champagne. Good Limoux can often be had below ten bucks a bottle.
posted by jet_silver at 8:32 AM on December 30, 2008

We served (after tasting many) Gloria Ferrer Blanc De Noirs

oooh Bevmo has it (and some other good ones) on sale
posted by bitdamaged at 8:59 AM on December 30, 2008

("we served at our wedding" I meant to say)
posted by bitdamaged at 8:59 AM on December 30, 2008

Also the more I see questions like this the more I've come to really appreciate bevmo's site. Real easy to find good deals on highly rated booze.
posted by bitdamaged at 9:01 AM on December 30, 2008

Cava is yummy, better than champagne, and totally affordable.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:28 AM on December 30, 2008

I have learned (the hard way) that I dare not let the household supply of Cristalino cava run low.

Great taste, great price, a remarkable value.
posted by dinger at 10:10 AM on December 30, 2008

I love Cava. In addition to Cristalino, I'd recommend Avinyo. ~$15 a bottle. YUM!
posted by Stewriffic at 10:11 AM on December 30, 2008

2nd mudpuppie -- I like anything sparkly, but Mr Cestmoi has a better palate than I, he loves Champagne but doesn’t care for Proseccos. He doesn’t notice when I serve Cava instead of Champagne.
posted by cestmoi15 at 10:13 AM on December 30, 2008

I came here only to find that gimonca had already said exactly what I had planned to say.


posted by Seamus at 10:59 AM on December 30, 2008

I can second the Cristalino cava (I like the extra-dry). We bought cases of it for our wedding, and were a little concerned that our super-great chef might think it was "beneath" his amazing Italian food. Turns out he carried it on his own restaurant menu for $38 a bottle!
posted by ersatzkat at 11:00 AM on December 30, 2008

Cristalino, definitely, can't go wrong. LOVE IT.
posted by FergieBelle at 12:47 PM on December 30, 2008

DStM is good. So is Gruet.
posted by neuron at 12:57 PM on December 30, 2008

Seconding Barefoot's bubblies. I don't like my sparkling wines very sweet; Barefoot's aren't. Otherwise well-balanced, and not too dry, either.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:01 PM on December 30, 2008

posted by mercredi at 2:59 PM on December 30, 2008

All of the above are awesome recommendations. My sommelier friend recommends Sofia by Coppola vineyards. Pretty bottle and if you hit the right store they even have it in single serve cans like a kids juicebox.
posted by BuddhaBelly at 4:27 PM on December 30, 2008

I have had three different bottles of Moscato in the past few weeks and I loved them all. They all varied in sweetness and bubbles, though.
posted by soelo at 5:39 PM on December 30, 2008

Any sparkling wine from Spain is good and relatively cheap.
posted by Groovytimes at 8:51 PM on December 30, 2008

yay for cavas, for sure. i like one called 1+1=3, i think it's usually $13-$14. and another one I had recently, on the not-super-dry side, was called Yellow by Yellowglen, $10-$12. Nothing fancy, cheesy bottle, but tasty.
posted by pieliza at 9:36 PM on December 30, 2008

I can't mark a true "best answer" until I've tried them all -- a fun project for the new year! My liquor store didn't have much in the way of cava, but the clerk enthusiastically recommended a Gran Gesta Brut Rose for about $15. Happy New Year, everyone!
posted by libraryhead at 7:18 AM on December 31, 2008

FWIW the SF Trader Joe's had the ubiquitous Domaine Ste Michelle (both Brut and Blanc de Noirs) for $6 and change last night.
posted by kcm at 8:09 AM on December 31, 2008

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