The Biscayne Times

Jul 03rd
Celebration Bubbly That Won’t Break the Bank PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jacqueline Coleman, BT Contributor   
December 2018

Red, white, and you: Agreeable wine for $15 or less

WPix_Vino_12-18ine lovers across the globe just adore a bottle of bubbly. From a party day on the boat to birthdays, promotions, and holidays, sparkling wine dominates as the go-to celebratory libation. That iconic “pop” of the cork is enough to get almost any gathering going, and, boy, is that a popular sound around this time of the year.

Although it may be one of the most beloved wines, sparkling wine can also be one of the hardest to understand. Some people may refer to all sparkling wine as Champagne, and some may assume that Prosecco is nothing more than a lower-quality Champagne. In fact, only sparkling wine that meets very strict criteria from the Champagne region of France may rightly be called Champagne, and Prosecco, which is from Italy, is made from an entirely different grape and winemaking process that produces a unique wine with its own valuable traits.

Another favorite type of bubbly is Spanish Cava, which must be produced in certain regions of Spain using the same traditional method that originated in Champagne, but generally using Spanish grapes, such as Macabeu, Parellada, and Xarel·lo.

In other areas of France, sparkling wine made in the traditional method may be called Crémant, and in regions across the world, including this country, sparkling wine is simply referred to by its level of sweetness.

Not all sparkling wines are “sweet,” as is also often perceived; in fact, the levels of residual sugar vary greatly. From Brut Nature, the driest, to Deux, or Dolce, the sweetest, most people prefer a plain old Brut somewhere in the middle. But if dryness is what you like, don’t be fooled by Extra Dry, which is actually a bit sweeter than you may think.

While Champagne is still the king of the bubbles, I did find a few excellent options in some of the alternative styles for the budget-conscious lover of bubbly.

With no bias when it comes to the name, one of my favorite wines of this bunch is the U.S.-made Jacqueline Leonne Brut from New Mexico. Not only do I love that this wine is produced in an area that is not traditionally associated with winemaking, but the French-inspired wine is made in the traditional méthode Champenoise, giving it an elegance and finesse that rivals any wine from France. Bright, crisp, and citrusy, this medium-bodied sparkler showcases fine bubbles and a lengthy finish.

Another rival to Champagne would be the Saint-Reine Blanc de Blancs Brut from France. Also produced in the traditional method, this lighter sparkling wine has more of the earthier attributes you’d expect from the Old World -- it’s less fruit-forward than the first, but structured well and creamy in the mouth. Many drinkers may even confuse this with a bottle of Champagne.

Two Cavas made it into the group, but I have to say I was most impressed with the less expensive of the two. The Borrasca Brut Cava shimmers with a party-ready label and a full-flavored refreshing wine inside. Crisp citrus and orange blossom flavors dominate this delectable Cava, at only $8.99.

The Segura Viudas Brut Cava was somewhat more complex, with floral, fruit, and mineral notes floating throughout the nose and mouth. Your party guests will surely enjoy the richness and elegant feel of this dry sparkling wine.

Next there are the three Proseccos, each with a slightly different spin on the Italian favorite. The Ruffino Prosecco is by far the sweetest in the Extra Dry style, meaning that the wine is allowed more residual sugar than a Brut. Peach, pear, orange, and citrus flavors dominate this lovely and light sparkling wine. However, if you want a drier Prosecco, try one of the next two wines.

Since 1821, the Zonin family has been making quality wine, and the Zonin Prosecco is no exception. It has a distinct flavor profile and a nicely balanced, heavier feel on the tongue. A tad less fruit-forward than some Proseccos, this Zonin wine hits hard on the back of the palate for a long, enjoyable finish.

Finally, the Mionetto Prosecco Brut is also a dry Prosecco with a powerful bouquet of pear, citrus, and some green apple. Refreshing and fruity with tight bubbles, this is a wine that I would not be ashamed to serve for any celebratory occasion.


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