It's a shame people save sparkling wines for special occasions. They are among the most versatile wines in the world, working well with a wide variety of foods. Champagne shines with dishes that aren't usually considered wine-friendly, and it goes great with everything from potato chips to caviar. No New Year's celebration would be complete without it. And while Champagne can be an extravagance, a nice bottle of bubbles doesn't have to break the bank. Here are some of my favorites at a variety of price points:
Domaine Ste. Michele Blanc de Blanc, $9.49
A great buy from this Washington winery, with rich peach, pear and pineapple aromas and crisp green apple flavors. A touch of toast on the just dry finish.
Charles de Fère Brut Reserve, $9.99
A perennial best buy, this French blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Ugni Blanc offers generous apple fruit flavors, nicely persistent bubbles and a smooth finish.
Zefiro Prosecco, $10.99
For those who find most sparkling wine a little too austere, Prosecco is just the ticket. With its light touch of sweetness, this is fresh and fruity fun in a bottle.
$12 to $24
Gloria Ferrer Brut, $15.99
A startlingly good buy from Sonoma, California, with lovely floral aromas, lively citrus and creamy apple flavors and remarkably persistent bubbles.
2001 Argyle Brut, $23
Another stunner with a rich and creamy texture, this one from Oregon. The pear and citrus fruit flavors are light and delicate, the finish, clean and long-lasting.
Duval-Leroy Brut, $28
A definite best buy when it comes to true Champagne, this medium-bodied blend with the emphasis on Pinot Noir has nice touches of toast and vanilla to complement the smooth peach fruit.
Laurent-Perrier Brut, $37
One of my favorite Champagne houses, their non-vintage brut is a consistent classic. Warm and round in the mouth with rich forward fruit, there's a nice touch of mineral and lemon zest on the long citrus-laced finish.
Pommery Brut Rosé, $50
Though the color in the glass doesn't make you think rosé, the rich and creamy red fruit flavors are spot on. An exceptional Champagne elegant in style, with lively bubbles, and a long, crisp and clean finish.