8 Types of Bubbly You & Your Guests Need to Pop for the Holidays

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Because there is a fizz for every reason and every season.

 

Sure, Champagne, Cava and Prosecco are popular for a reason, but lots of other regions are stepping up their game and producing high-quality bubbly. (Blanquette de Limoux, anyone?) These are the styles and bottles you’ll want to be popping during the holidays and beyond.

 

1. Alta Langa

What is it?

A sparkling wine made in the Alta Langa region of Piemonte (Piedmont) in northern Italy, generally from Chardonnay and/or Pinot Nero (aka Pinot Noir) grapes in the traditional method.

 

Why should your guests drink it?

Prosecco is far from the only Italian bubbly you’ll find on store shelves. There’s Franciacorta, Lambrusco and this style, for starters. Because it’s made in the same method as Champagne, it has a continuous mousse, tiny bubbles, and dimension. Alta Langa is a new appellation and an attempt to bring back great Piemonte sparkling wine, which fell out of favor and was lost in the shadows of the region’s big bold reds made with Nebbiolo, Barolo and Barbaresco.

 

What should you pair it with?

Pork roast on New Year’s Day (pork signifies good luck as pigs root forward with their hooves, symbolic of a good year ahead) or a chilled seafood tower at a dressy cocktail party.

 

What bottle should you put on your menu?

Giulio Cocchi Spumanti Pas Dosé Alta Langa sparkling wine - 8 Types of Bubbly You & Your Guests Need to Know

Cocchi Pas Dosé ($20): Made with 100% Pinot Noir, this wine is completely dry, as it does not have any dosage added to it, and aged 42 months on the lees. Its intense fruity aroma and foamy mousse is followed by freshness and vibrant acidity on the palate, with a bitter almond finish.

 

 

2. Crémant de Bourgogne

What is it?

A sparkling wine made in Burgundy, France, in the traditional method (where it undergoes the secondary fermentation in the bottle to give it its effervescence), produced with the grapes permitted in the region, which includes Chardonnay, Aligoté, Melon de Bourgogne and Pinot Blanc for white, and Gamay and Pinot Noir for red. Blanc de Blancs on the label means it’s made from all white grapes, while Blanc de Noirs means only red grapes are inside the bottle.

 

Why should your guests drink it?

Since it’s made in the same method as Champagne and sometimes with the same grapes (Chardonnay and/or Pinot Noir), you get some of the same complexity and notes of citrus and brioche as Champagne, often at a fraction of the price.

 

What should you pair it with?

Eggs benedict on Christmas morning, pork rillette on a charcuterie platter at a holiday open house, or oysters on New Year’s Eve. It’s also lovely mixed with a little crème de cassis and garnished with a lemon twist in a classic Kir Royale cocktail.

 

What bottle should you put on your menu?

Simonnet-Febvre Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Blanc - 8 Types of Bubbly You & Your Guests Need to Know

Simonnet-Febvre Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Blanc ($20): Produced with 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir grown on clay and limestone soils, it’s aged 2 to 3 years on the lees. It’s elegant and refined, with tiny bubbles, citrus aromas, minerality, and a pleasing finish.

 

 

3. Blanquette de Limoux

What is it?

A sparkling wine made in Languedoc in the south of France (the country’s largest wine region) using the traditional method and mostly a local white grape called Mauzac (also referred to as “Blanquette”), with some Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc also permitted.

 

Why should your guests drink it?

While the Languedoc is a treasure trove for reds, sparkling wines are less common, making this a special find. (It also happens to be the oldest style of sparkling wine made in France.) It touts great acidity, citrus and green apple notes, and a yeasty quality that adds weight and body on the palate.

 

What should you pair it with?

Smoked trout mousse at a swanky cocktail fête or seared diver scallops at a dinner party.

 

What bottle should you put on your menu?

Saint Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux sparkling wine - 8 Types of Bubbly You & Your Guests Need to Know

Saint Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux ($14): This sparkler is made with 90% Mauzac, 5% Chenin Blanc and 5% Chardonnay picked by hand, and aged at least 12 months. It has aromas of bread dough and toast, with flavors of green apple and lemon curd, and a medium-body. The wine feels creamy in the mouth, and finishes clean and smooth.

 

 

4. California Traditional Method Sparkling Wine

What is it?

A sparkling wine made in various appellations in California, generally with Chardonnay and/or Pinot Noir but sometimes with other grapes popular in the region in which it’s produced. It’s produced in styles from Extra Brut to Demi-Sec, meaning you can drink it from the beginning of a meal straight through to the end.

 

Why should your guests drink it?

If you think Champagne and other Old World sparklers are a bit too austere, with high acidity and crisp flavors that lean towards tart green apple and lemon, you might better prefer the lush, ripe flavors of bubbly made in California. The riper grapes also sometimes translate to a little residual sugar, making it soft and easy drinking on the palate.

 

What should you pair it with?

It really depends on the style and region, but rosé versions would be great with roasted salmon on Hanukkah, while brut bottles work with cocktail party cheese platters, or with a box of takeout fried chicken at a tree trimming party.

 

What bottle should you put on your menu?

2013 Balletto Brut Rose California sparkling wine - 8 Types of Bubbly You & Your Guests Need to Know

2013 Balletto Brut Rosé ($42): Admittedly on the higher end price-wise for domestic bubbly, this is nonetheless a well-made bottle that’s worth seeking out. Made with 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay grown on the estate in the prestigious Russian River Valley appellation, it was left on the lees for 3 years before it was disgorged, which ramps up body, mid-palate texture and those sought-after yeasty notes. It also has lovely red fruit flavors, including cherry and raspberry, crisp and lively acidity, and a tinge of minerality.

 

 

5. Prosecco

What is it?

An Italian sparkler wine made in the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region using mainly the Glera grape and the Charmat Method, where the secondary fermentation that produces the bubbles happens in an enclosed tank rather than in the bottle. Prosecco can be spumante (fully sparkling) or frizzante (semi-sparkling).

 

Why should your guests drink it?

Prosecco is wildly popular for a reason: it’s super easy to drink. The Charmat Method and grapes used translate to a soft mouthfeel, fruity style, and sweeter finish, so if you aren’t into very dry wines, this Italian bottle should be your go-to bubbly. However, some producers are dialing back the sweetness these days, which means the style has a bit wider appeal to more bubbly fans.

 

What should you pair it with?

Prosecco’s totally approachable price point makes it’s the perfect mixer with orange or grapefruit juice in a Mimosa. Or serve it alongside white lasagna at a post-holiday-shopping gathering.

 

What bottle should you put on your menu?

Da Luca Prosecco Italian sparkling wine - 8 Types of Bubbly You & Your Guests Need to Know

Da Luca Prosecco ($14): There are some fun and exotic aromas in this offering, including lemon and jasmine blossoms and zesty passion fruit. The palate is tangy, with citrus and balanced sweetness, followed by a tropical, clean finish of pineapple and passion fruit.

 

 

6. Cava

What is it?

A traditional method sparkling wine made in Spain’s Catalonia region with indigenous Macabeu, Parellada and/or Xarel-lo grapes, sometimes with international varietals like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir added in.

 

Why should your guests drink it?

If you find many Proseccos to be too simple, sweet or soft and want something at the same price point with more depth, turn to Cava. While it definitely has a different profile than Champagne and admittedly isn’t nearly as complex, it’s still got more going for it (think bready notes and citrus) and lots of bang for the buck.

 

What should you pair it with?

Cava goes well with tapas, of course, so pop bottles at your Spanish-themed holiday party. But its toasty mid-palate and richness mean it can stand up next to rich dishes like comforting chicken and dumplings by the fire on a chilly December evening, or takeout Kung Pao chicken on a busy cookie baking night.

 

What bottle should you put on your menu?

Poema Cava Brut Spanish sparkling wine - 8 Types of Bubbly You & Your Guests Need to Know

Poema Cava Brut ($13): This fresh and clean wine is produced with 40% macabeo, 40% xarel-lo and 20% parellada grapes. Granny smith apples, citrus and minerals are at the forefront of the palate, with a lingering finish of toasted bread.

 

 

7. Rosé Champagne

What is it?

The gold standard of all sparkling wines, made in the Champagne region of France using the traditional method (which used to be called Méthode Champenoise). The only grapes permitted in Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Rosé Champagne incorporates color, flavor, tannin and body from skin contact with either or both of the latter two varietals.

 

Why should your guests drink it?

There is nothing quite like Champagne. It’s extremely elegant, touts layers of flavor, evolves from sip to sip, and has a small, fine perlage (another name for the trail of bubbles in the glass). But whereas brut and blanc de blancs styles lean towards notes of lemon curd and tart apple strudel, rosé bursts with red fruit (think strawberry, raspberry and cherry) and hints of flowers including roses.

 

What should I pair it with?

Start the New Year off right by watching the bowl games and parades with a bottle of rosé Champagne and a sushi platter (it goes especially well with tuna nigiri.) This is also the perfect bottle for turkey and everything that goes with it, from cranberry sauce to sweet potatoes.

 

What bottle should you put on your menu?

Moët & Chandon Impérial Rosé Champagne - 8 Types of Bubbly You & Your Guests Need to Know

Moët & Chandon Rosé Impérial (SRP $50): This Champagne is made with 30 to 40% each of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, with the remainder consisting of Chardonnay; a portion of which comes from specially selected reserve wines which give it more richness and concentration. It’s lush and vibrant, with flavors of wild strawberries, raspberries and peach, and a slightly black pepper spicy finish.

 

 

8. Champagne Tête de Cuvée

What is it?

The highest quality sparkling wine that a Champagne house makes, with grapes sourced from the best Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards.

 

Why should your guests drink it?

Tête de cuvée is made only in extraordinary vintages, and is generally bottled in more elegant packaging than a producer’s other offerings. In other words, it’s the best of the best, and what you’ll want to toast with on holiday celebrations.

 

What should you pair it with?

Some oenophiles believe tête de cuvée should be enjoyed on its own – out of a large white wine glass rather than a flute so the bouquet and palate can better open. This is also the bottle you’ll want to uncork at a pull-out-all-the-stops formal dinner on New Year’s Eve with oysters on the half shell and broiled lobster tails with drawn butter.

 

What bottle should you put on your menu?

Champagne Taittinger 2006 Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs - 8 Types of Bubbly You & Your Guests Need to Know

Champagne Taittinger 2006 Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs ($170; PDF data sheet): Made with Chardonnay grapes grown in the top vineyards of the prestigious Côte des Blancs, this Champagne is aged 10 years on the lees. Its pale-yellow hue is joined by a gorgeous creamy mousse, aromas of citrus and pastry, and a full-bodied, rich palate including a line of minerality; the long finish is full of toast, yeast and spice. Perfectly drinkable now, the wine will continue to evolve in fascinating ways for many years.

 

Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits and lifestyle writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website, www.kellymagyarics.com or on Twitter and Instagram @kmagyarics.