While our sparkling wine habit is hardly seasonal, this time of year there are endless reasons to pop a bottle. From
festive cocktails to end-of-year celebrations and holiday parties, it's the season to dust the Champagne flutes and toast. One problem: the most iconic of bubblies, Champagne, hardly runs cheap. That's partially due to the labor-intensive method that goes into making it, but also because true Champagne must come from a tiny region of France.
While there are plenty of cheap sparkling wines on the market, not all budget buys are created equal. So we reached out to some of our favorite wine experts to see which bottles under $12 they actually recommend for all your holiday cheer. Ahead, seven picks that won't break the bank – but will fool your friends.
Note: Prices and availability vary by location.
“Mionetto Prosecco is widely available and probably my favorite, pound-for-pound, dollar-for-dollar, value in sparkling wine. It has just a hint of sweetness up front but finishes with a blast of mouth watering bubbles.” –
Brian Smith, Chief Wine Officer and Advanced Sommelier, Winc Mionetto Prosecco Brut, $7.99, available at Binny's.
"For a great value sparkling wine this holiday season, check out Cava, a sparkling wine from Northeastern Spain. Cava is made in the same style as Champagne, meaning the winemaker takes a regular, still wine and then creates a secondary fermentation in the bottle, which is where the bubbles are created. The grapes used for Cava are typically a blend of indigenous (or local) varieties, including Macabeo, Parellada and Xarello.
In particular, I recommend the Brut (meaning dry or non-sweet) Cava from Segura Viudas. This sparkler, which retails from around $10, is juicy, spicy and refreshing: a perfect wine for a celebratory toast or to have with soft cheese, pasta or grilled chicken." – Gillian Sciaretta, Taster and Writer, Wine Spectator Segura Viudas Brut Cava NV, $9.99, available at Wine.com.
"I would choose Poema Cava from Spain. Quite simply, it is inexpensive, crisp and delicious, and won't give me a headache. Cheaper bubbles run the risk of headaches so this one delivered on yummy and feeling 'fine' the next day. They also have a
sparkling rosé that typically runs $1 more" – Sayle Milne, Wine Savvy Poema Brut Cava $9.99, available at Total Wine.
“My top choice for under $12 is the Cleto Chiarli Grasparossa de Castelvetro Amabile Lambrusco. I love turning people on to Lambrusco – it's such a misunderstood category that represents some of the best values in the wine world. This cuvée is slightly off-dry with dark fruit notes, a perfect savory pairing.” –
Ashley Santoro, Regional Wine Direct & Sommelier at The Standard Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco Centenario, $11.99, available at B-21 Liquors.
"I'm wild about sparkling wine and have a daily habit! While you can almost always find Prosecco at the $10 -$12 range, I always prefer fully sparkling, Method Traditionelle (Champenoise). The fine bubbles in Cremant mimics Champagne, only from other regions. The bubbles in Prosecco and other tank-produced wines are larger and less elegant " –
Ellisa Cooper, Decanted Diva Andre Delorme Blanc de Blancs Brut Reserve, $9.99, available at Wine.com.
"[If you can't find an inexpensive cremant,] There is always the ubiquitous Cristallino Cava from Spain. It's widely available and usually between $9-10!" –
Ellisa Cooper Cristallino Brut Cava, $9, available at Bottlerocket.
“There is no better way to get the party started than with a glass of bubbles, and if you’re pouring for a crowd, Yellow Tail bubbles is a great way to do it without breaking the bank. This tasty fizz from Australia has fresh flavors of green apple and citrus, and it’s perfect on its own or with light party fare." –
Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen, The World Wine Guys and co-authors of Red Wine: The Comprehensive Guide to the 50 Essential Varieties and Styles Yellow Tail Sparkling Bubbles, $9.17, available at Total Wine.