With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, the sparkling wine aisles of your local shop will be humming with love-struck customers. More than a few of them will be wide-eyed with sticker shock; bubbly can get expensive. But worry not. There are plenty of options that won’t break your budget and still serve your romantic intentions.
Remember that not all sparkling wine is champagne. All true champagne originates from a small region in France of the same name, where the fizzy juice was invented. Because of the history and the tradition, prices start at “expensive” and only climb higher.
Here’s the good news: A good portion of sparklers made elsewhere in the world follow the same principles of creation, but arrive on the shelves at a fraction of the cost. Many of the houses from Champagne actually operate houses in California and the wine is just as good.
Another option: Take a look at other regions. The Spanish make a sparkler they call Cava that is remarkably similar to champagne, if only a touch sweeter. Italy’s Prosecco is even sweeter than Cava. But they both have those little celebratory bubbles. And they both go down just as smoothly. In addition, they’re much less expensive. Some customers even prefer their easy sweetness. If you want to stay local, consider that more than a few sparklers are made here in Massachusetts. These sparklers would surprise you with their depth and texture.
When all else fails, talk to your local wine expert. Everybody knows the big players in the game – Dom Perignon and Cristal – which is why they’re so expensive. Mostly what you’re paying for is the name on the label. Your local expert should be able to steer you towards lesser known wines vying for a place in the market.
No matter what, remember that it’s Valentine’s Day. There should be more important stuff going on than the wine in your glass.