On any given celebratory occasion, Champagne is the beverage to commemorate the moment. Particularly on New Year’s Eve, an ice-cold bottle of this French sparkling wine is a festive way to usher in the next 365 days, but its price makes it difficult for many to enjoy.
“Champagne has always been challenging and labor intensive to produce, making it more expensive,” says Danielle Norris, sommelier and sales rep for Cream Wines. “This is what made it a novelty of the wealthy and a status symbol served in royal courts.”
Luckily, there are now more quality sparkling wine options — from Cava and Crémant to pétillant naturel and Lambrusco — that are affordable enough to pop open not just to watch the ball drop but to sip any day of the week.
At Verve Wine + Provisions (2349 N. Lincoln Ave., Lincoln Park), wine director and sommelier João Alves de Sá has curated an impressive selection of wines made by small producers all over the world that speak to a sense of place. He loves Crémant, from France, for a celebratory bubbly. “It’s always nice to find a wine that has the same quality as Champagne, but it is almost five times cheaper,” he says. “Crémant is a great option, because you have the pedigree and know-how of the Champagne region, but not the price.” At Verve, snag a bottle of Bénédicte & Stéphane Tissot Indigéne Cremant du Jura Extra Brut NV ($42).
For those looking for a nontraditional bottle of bubbly, Norris recommends picking up a bottle from the Vermont-based producer Zafa Wines, like Lust for Life ($48), available at Stelios’ Bottles & Bites (25 S. Morgan St., West Loop). “They are making exceptional co-fermented hybrid sparkling wines by blending grapes with wild foraged fruit,” she says. No matter what you drink this holiday season, make sure it sparks joy.
Three More Sparkling Wines to Ring in 2022
1. Bodkin Cuvée Agincourt Brut Blanc de Sauvignon Blanc (California), $20, wine.com
2. Quinta Das Bágeiras Espumante Bruto Natural Branco 2018 (Portugal), $19, Verve Wine, chi.vervewine.com
3. Segura Viudas Heredad Brut Reserva (Spain), $30, binnys.com for locations