Bubbles, Bubbles: No Toil, No Trouble With Our Bubbly List

Raise a glass for holiday wines.

It’s the time of year when almost everyone’s thoughts turn to gift giving.

Yes, ’tis the season to be giving. There’s hardly a situation when giving a gift is wrong. The rub, it seems, is what to give.

I’m going to suggest bubbly.

Yes, it could be argued that mittens or gloves or other sorts of hand-warming garments are useful as we approach winter. Or that everyone needs a mug for coffee, tea, hot chocolate or mulled cider. You don’t need to be equipped with a law degree to make a case for the latest in futuristic electronic devices, a great book or an XXL-size wedge of aged Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

But a bottle of bubbly is singularly appropriate for the upcoming season of toasts that will climax with the last glass-clinking of 2017 on New Year’s Eve.

Give a bottle of bubbly and you’re giving a sure-fire way to make any old evening a celebration.

So here’s the second part of the rub: What’s a bubbly that not only doesn’t break the bank, but also encourages ease and comfort and a why-not attitude when served? You don’t want to spend $70 or $150 on a bottle; you don’t want to give a too-fancy, too-fussy bottle; and you don’t want to present, to anyone you truly care about, one of those overpriced, big-house brands that never deliver the taste their price tags’ promise.

Here’s a list of value-priced bottles that not only deliver taste, but style, compatibility with food—and approachability that’s worth a toast in and of itself. These are a few of my favorite sparklers, ones that I turn to year-around. And, frankly, turn to them more often at this time of year, when I want to share something especially special with those I most love.

The Bubbly List

Bisson Vino Frizzante. Small, delicate bubbles, elegant and balanced, this lovely fizz from Italy cannot be labeled prosecco because it’s got a flip-top cap. Fine. Who cares? It’s the best on the market and it’s under $20. Imported by Neal Rosenthal/Madrose.

Sommariva Prosecco. The Sommariva family tends their vines on the most advantageously positioned hillsides of the Veneto in Italy. The result is a fresh, sophisticated prosecco that defies its $15 price. There is never a wrong time to serve this bubbly. Imported by Kermit Lynch.

Gramona Cava Gran Cuvee. The basic cava—the sparkling wine of Spain—from this storied house is hard to find, but worth seeking out. It’s complex, yet harmonic, refreshing, yet sturdy. Gramona also produces rare age-worthy cavas. This cuvee typically is under $20. Imported by Verity.

Domaine de la Taille aux Loups “Triple Zero.” This is pure Jacky Blot, a legend in the Loire Valley of France. It’s an exceedingly fresh sparkler made from chenin blanc and as quenching as biting into a juicy, ripe pear. Figure it’ll cost in the low-$20s. Imported by Skurnik.

Raventos i Blanc Cava Rose de Nit. Pure, charming and soulful, this cava engages with its elegance and layers of flavor. It comes from a revered estate, centuries old, and its stewards are meticulous in the care of their vines and making of this bubbly. About $20. Imported by Skurnik.

Szigeti Gruner Veltliner Brut. Light bodied and refreshing, this bubbly from Austria hits high notes from its titillating nose to its surprisingly complex finish. Having oysters this holiday season? Have it with the Szigeti. Usually priced in the low-$20s. Imported by Winebow.

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