What To Drink Now: Valentine’s Bubbly On A Budget

Though the taste of great Champagne dances on the palate like you were drinking stars from the sky, illuminating the tiny bubbles mimicking diamonds in a glass – the reality is that such a luxury is hard to afford every day, even special days like Valentine’s.  I am a big believer in opening up a special bottle on a random Tuesday, but not every special bottle has to cost you an arm and a leg.  A bottle is special because you think it is, so here are some special bottles of bubbly that are all under $25.  A few selections were sent for editorial consideration.

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva is one of the best bang for your buck bubbles from the famed Ferrer family in Spain.  Costing just around $10 a bottle, and often less, this bone dry artisanal Cava from Spain’s Penedès region blends the traditional Cava grapes of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo together in the classic méthode champenoise technique, which is then aged up to 3 years in the bottle.  A bubbly to start or end a meal with filled with wild flowers, tropical fruit and citrus with balanced, bright acidity.

I am inherently a fan of sparkling rose.  The red berry flavors mixed with rose petal and hints of spice often wrapped around crisp and lively rose sparklers fits my palate.  Anna de Codorniu Brut Rose Cava is an ideal example of an inexpensive, lively and balanced sparkler with pops of strawberry, red cherry and raspberry intertwined with citrus notes from the 70% Pinot Noir/30% Chardonnay blend – not the common Cava grapes or blend.

Avissi Prosecco from the heart of Veneto, Italy’s region of Prosecco, Soave and Valpolicella.  This low alcohol bubbly displays the quintisential charateristics of a great Prosecco – fresh, fruit forward aromas intertwined with spring flowers and herbal notes.  Prosecco tends to lean towards the fruitier side of bubbly, verses the bold, brut flavors often found in a Cava or Cremant.  This one is light and delicate, begging to open the palate as an evening aperitif, or be enjoyed through the day from brunch to dusk.

Perhaps my favorite way to start a day when visiting Napa Valley is with a glass of bubbly at Mumm Napa. Sitting in their glassed in patio overlooking the vineyards at any time of the year from bud break to post-harvest the setting is beautiful, inviting and relaxing.  Mumm Napa is another great go to bubbly also utilizing the traditional méthode champenoise technique with all their sparklers and using only the traditional grapes of Champagne – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, with just a touch of Pinot Gris in some. Costing right around $20 the Brut Prestige embodies classic Champagne flavors without the price tag.  Toasted brioche and almond notes escape from the glass, followed by citrus fruit, golden apple and ripe apricot.

Biltmore Estate is known for many things – beautiful scenery, the legendary builder, a historical landmark – but it is also the producer of some incredible wine, both still and sparkling.  The Biltmore Estate Méthode Champenoise Brut blends Pinot Noir Grapes with Chardonnay using the classic Champagne method to create a refreshing, elegant and lively sparkler filled with honey suckle, mango and banana flavors with hints of red delicious apple and strawberry.  A delicious way to celebrate any occasion.

It is a common thought that anything you would pair with beer could also be paired with bubbles, as there are subtle similarities in both beer and Champagne/sparkling wine.  Barbecue, spicy Asian dishes, Tex-Mex and burgers all taste pretty good with a glass of bubbly, with the acidity and crisp fruit flavor enhancing the flavors of these dishes.  Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi believes in this theory pairing their Extra Dry California sparkler of 98.5% Chardonnay with a touch of Viognier with spicy Thai, Asian and curry dishes.  Slightly sweet with a small amount of residual sugar the low alcohol bubbly enhances pairings, while maintaining its own flavor profile of lemon curd, green apple and white flowers.