10 Best Sparkling Wines for the Holidays

There's never a bad time for bubbles, so try these fun, unique sparkling wines

When most people think of sparkling wine, they think of champagne, popping corks and celebrations. After more than two decades of writing about wines, I’m here to shatter your preconceptions. Not all sparkling wine is champagne. And you don't need a special occasion to enjoy bubbles. 

Here are a few interesting options for the holidays, all available at Total Wine or the grocery store. I’ve included champagne—wines created in the traditional method only from the Champagne region of France. But I am also recommending sparkling Lambrusco from Italy, a French sparkling rosé from the Loire Valley, Italian Prosecco, an Argentinian Grüner Veltliner, and several American sparkling wines. Go ahead and experiment because—as a French restaurateur once told me—there’s never a bad time for bubbles. 

Norton 101 Bubbles Grüner Veltliner, Argentina

The Norton 101 is made from 100% Grüner Veltliner from Mendoza, Argentina. The grape is like a Sauvignon Blanc, with light citrus notes. When you taste the crisp bubbles, you’ll taste springtime fruits, like peaches and pears. Norton pairs perfectly with soft cow's milk cheeses, as well as veal, pork, meaty fish dishes, and green vegetables. ($15.99)

Medici Ermete Quercioli Secco Reggiano Lambrusco DOC

Quercioli Secco is a sparkling dry red wine from Italy's Reggio Emilia. This one is more effervescent than bubbly. It's a gorgeous ruby red color and there is a violet scent. Quiercioli Secco is dry yet fruity. Serve this slightly chilled (57 to 59 F) with grilled meats, pasta dishes, or cheeses. ($12.99)

Caposaldo Prosecco Rosé  

I enjoy Caposaldo Prosecco Rosé for its subtle sweetness and vibrant acidity. It’s a modern Italian classic ideal for sipping by the pool or pairing it with fish, lobster, shrimp, or turkey. It comes from hand-picked Glera and Pinot Nero grapes in Italy’s Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions. You’ll smell strawberries and raspberries and it’s a bit floral. ($13.99)

Bouvet Rosé Excellence French Sparkling Wine

The Bouvet Rosé Excellence is a French sparkling wine, but not champagne. Why? This one comes from the Loire Valley and is made from 100% Cabernet Franc. It is a lovely salmon color with fine bubbles. It has the aroma of fresh fruit, but with some earthiness, you usually find in champagnes. The Bouvet Rosé is excellent with fish, chicken, pork, or, berries. ($16.99)

Vino Vargas

Paso Doble sparkling wines by Vino Vargas are created in the traditional champagne style in Paso Robles, CA. The collection contains three wines: Paso Doble Brut Blanc de blanc (100% Chardonnay), Paso Doble Brut Blanc de noir (100% Pinot Noir), Paso Doble Brut Rosé (a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir). I especially love the Blanc de noir and it really goes with everything from oysters to pizza. ($48)

Champagne Bruno Paillard Première Cuvée

Champagne Bruno Paillard is a small, independent house in France. Champagne can be made from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, or Chardonnay, and this is a blend of all three. There is a subtle yeasty smell and I transport myself to chalk-filled caves under the streets of Reims when I sip this one. This is a very dry, light champagne with flavors of citrus and berries. It pairs well with fish, but I had it with a ribeye. ($55)

Champagne Bollinger

Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvée, which is a blend of all three Champagne grapes (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Meunier), is the champagne that James Bond drinks in the movies. It is a complex sparkling with fine bubbles and hints of fresh-baked bread, ripe peaches, and toasted nuts. The touch of citrus makes this crisp and it pairs well with seafood and shellfish. ($90)

Domaine Carneros Le Rêve by Taittinger

I find it fascinating that the wines of Domaine Carneros, which is Taittinger’s California-based winery, has the same floral qualities as Champagne Taittinger, but at a lower price point. My favorite is Le Rêve, a 100% Chardonnay sparkling with full-bodied flavor, jasmine and honeysuckle aroma, and a nice citrus tone with soft bubbles. Ideal with seafood, fish, or poultry. ($120)

Argyle Blanc de Noirs

There is something uniquely special about Oregon's Willamette Valley—and you taste that in the estate-grown Argyle Blanc de Noirs. This Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier blend is made with grapes from Eola-Amity Hills. It has natural acidity with the crispness of grapefruit, but a lovely floral freshness. This is another great wine for charcuterie boards or poultry. ($35)

Gilbert Gruet Grande Reserve

When people think of bubbles, they don’t often think of New Mexico. At least, not until they discover Gruet. Founded in 1984 by a family from Champagne, the sparkling wines are readily available in grocery stores. I recommend ordering the Gilbert Gruet Grande Reserve ($48), a Chardonnay aged in oak. It has a lovely aroma of baked brioche and almonds with crisp apples on your palate. This is ideal for turkey dinner.

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