Ready to ring in 2021? This year, the feeling is very much out with the old, in with the new. And nothing marks a new beginning quite like the pop of a sparkling wine cork. Celebrate the right way with the best sparkling wine for New Years Eve!
While Champagne is the traditional choice on New Year’s Eve, did you know that it’s just one of many kinds of bubbly?
That’s right. Champagne only refers to sparkling wine made in – you guessed it – the Champagne region of France. Sparkling wine is made all over the world, and just like regular wine, each variety has its own unique flair.
This guide breaks down the different kinds of sparkling wine (and how to decode the label) so you can choose the one that best suits your tastes and your budget. Spoiler alert: you don’t need to spend a ton of money to get a bottle you’ll enjoy sipping.
As you say goodbye to 2020, celebrate in style with one of the most popular sparkling wines.
Style Is Everything
Why does one kind of sparkling wine taste different from the next? Just like with regular wine, different grapes are used to make different varieties, but that’s just one factor in how it’ll taste.
The winemaker makes a bunch of decisions that will affect a sparkling wine’s body and flavor. Here are the main things you need to know:
How Sparkling Wine Is Made
So, where do the bubbles come from? This is the question on everybody’s lips.
You may know that wine is made by the process of fermentation. Sparkling wine goes through a second fermentation process, resulting in those glorious bubbles.
There are many ways for that second fermentation to happen. The two most common methods are the traditional method and the tank method.
- In the traditional (or Champagne) method, the second fermentation happens when the wine is already in bottles.
- In the tank (or Charmat) method, the second fermentation happens in a steel tank. Many Italian sparkling wines are made in this way.
Additionally, the winemaker can control the amount of oxygen and the amount of time sparkling wine is aged before it hits the shelves.
Sparkling wines that don’t get as much oxygen will be light and zesty, while those that have been aged longer – sometime in oak barrels – will taste rich, creamy, and nutty, with notes of brioche or baked bread.
The winemaker can also control the level of sweetness in sparkling wine. That’s right. If you’ve ever had a glass of bubbly and thought, “I don’t like this! It’s much too sweet!” or “I don’t like this! It’s much too dry!” – know that you have options. Sparkling wine can range from very dry, to slightly sweet, to sweet.
How will you know what you’re buying? Looking for these terms on the label:
- “Brut” or “Brut Nature” mean very dry.
- “Dry” or “Secco” mean dry.
- “Demi-sec” means semi-sweet.
- “Doux” means sweet.
The Best Sparkling Wine for New Years Eve
As sparkling wines go, Champagne is the belle of the ball. It’s made with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes, and you’ll find a variety of styles, ranging from dry and crisp to rich and nutty.
Champagne is also the most expensive sparkling wine. You’re paying, in part, for the prime real estate, but you can also expect layered, complex flavor notes.
Cava is Spain’s world-famous sparkling wine. It’s made in the same method as Champagne and comes in a similar range of styles. Made from a blend of indigenous Spanish grapes, including Xarello, Parellada and Macabeo, Cava is known for its bright fruity and floral notes, and mild acidity. While it’s generally beloved among sparkling wine fans, you can get it for a fraction of the cost of Champagne.
This Italian sparkling wine is a little different. Prosecco is made using the tank method, which makes the bubbles bigger and the flavor notes less complex. Light in color and body, Prosecco has bright fruit notes of pears, flowers, and tropical fruit. It also tends to be a little sweeter than Champagne or Cava. Prosecco is a great budget buy.
New World Sparkling Wine
Outside of Europe, you’ll find sparkling wine made in cool-climate regions of the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. It’s often made in the traditional method. While New World sparkling wine tends to have an elegant, Old-World flair, it’s known for having bright fruity notes. It’s also generally more affordable than Champagne.
Some of our favorite sparkling wines are the Aromica and Stigma sparkling wines! These aromatic wines hail from the Columbia Valley AVA in Washington State. A region known for its aromatic wines!
Rosé lovers, get excited. You’ll find sparkling rosé from regions all over the world, including France, Italy, Spain, and the U.S. Pink and fizzy, this sparkling wine has notes of berries and citrus. It comes in both sweet and dry styles, and at a range of price points, from super affordable to very fancy.
Bright Cellars’ Aromica Sparkling Rosé is crisp and bright. You’ll taste notes of citrus, strawberry, and raspberry with a hint of rose petals in the aroma.
Crémant is basically any kind of French sparkling wine made outside of Champagne. Since each region uses different grapes – it will taste a little different depending on where it is made. Crémant de Loire is made with wines like Chenin Blanc or Cabernet Franc, while Crémant d’Alsace is made with Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Gewürztraminer. This is a high-quality sparkling wine at a bargain price.
Germany’s sparkling wine is called Sekt. For a long time, wine experts didn’t think Sekt was worth writing home about, but in the last few decades, wineries have started making Sekt from Riesling grapes and it is, in a word, amazing. Imagine everything you love about Riesling – notes of green apple, nectarine, and its signature minerality – plus bubbles. You can get this sparkling wine for a steal because it is up-and-coming!
This sparkling red wine comes from Italy and is usually semi-sweet or “off-dry.” With red fruit notes of strawberry and rhubarb, plus a hint of hibiscus, Lambrusco is a great sparkling wine for red wine lovers to try.
If you prefer dry wines, there are also some excellent dry-style sparkling reds out there. With notes of dark fruit and spice, this sparkling wine tends to have a higher ABV, so remember to sip slowly.
One of our favorites is Bright Cellars’ Aromica Sparkling Red! It is deliciously fruity and the flavor notes of juicy plum, black cherry, and sun-ripened bramble berries will dazzle you.
Bright Cellars Popular Sparkling Wines
If you’re looking for the most popular sparkling wines for New Years, look no further than Bright Cellars own Stigma Private Reserve Aromica or Stigma Grand Reserve Aromica. Simply email your Wine Concierge at email@example.com and ask to put in a special sparkling wine order in time for New Years Eve.
In Vino Finito
Be sure to sip in moderation on New Years Eve and anytime you imbibe. Here’s to a happy and healthy new year!
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I enjoy serving friends, especially those from outside the US, Gruet, a methode champagnoise from New Mexico!
Personally, I like a good, extra dry champagne but have a hard time finding it.
Trader Joes has a pair of German bubbly; Schloss Beibrich.
One is Rose’ , the other white.
Both make nice Mimosas and both are priced under $7!!!