I confess: I prefer cheap champagne and sparkling wine to their more expensive counterparts when I have something to celebrate.
The only differences I discern between inexpensive libations and bottles that cost many dollars are: a) cheap champagne and sparkling wine are generally sweeter than the expensive variety, and b) bubbles in cheap champagne tend to be bigger and more bubbly.
Whether you drink chilled champagne straight or mixed in a cocktail, I recommend the following cheap but tasty ones.
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Champagne doesn't have to be expensive to be delicious. Ballatore Gran Spumante won a Double Gold Medal at the 2005 California State Fair Wine Competition to prove it. This sweet and super-cheap sparkling wine is made from Muscat grapes grown around Asti, a town in Italy.
© Francis Ford Coppola Winery.
He makes great movies, why not great wine? The Godfather
director, Coppola has released this fruity blend of pinot blanc, muscat, and riesling grapes and added champagne-like sparkle. The romantic in us appreciates that it comes wrapped in peony-pink cellophane.
Less sweet than the Ballatore Gran Spumante, Freixenet Carta Nevada Brut is a varietal cheap champagne from Spain that combines the macebeo, xarel-lo, and parellada grapes. It is produced by the méthode champenoise method, which requires double fermentation.
Still less sweet than the Freixenet Brut, this cheap méthode champenoise champagne has a clean, sparkling taste with a hint of fruit flavor.
Cheap but classy, crisp and dry, Cristalino is fast becoming the champagne choice of budget-conscious brides and party-givers.
If you prefer a cheap champagne from California, you can't do much better than the award-winning Mumm Cuvee Napa Brut Prestige, which is extremely bubbly.
A cheap champagne with a lot of personality, Dom Ste Michelle Blanc de Blanc from Washington state was deemed a best buy by Wine Spectator
magazine. Discriminating palates will detect pear and spice flavors.
Prosecco is Italy's version of champagne, yet many sophisticates enjoy it in spite of, or because of, its cheap price. Mionetto is the country's largest producer of prosecco, and produces several different varieties, all of them cheap at under $20.
It's not champagne, it's not wine, but it does sparkle and it is cheap: If you need a non-alcoholic alternative to celebrate with, Sutter Home Fre Sparkling gets high marks for its pleasing taste and dry finish.
Last, but certainly not least -- and absolutely not cheap -- Perrier Jouet Brut in the Flower Bottle is the champagne to bring out when you want to romance and impress someone. The gorgeous bottle is an Art-Deco design that may become a keepsake of a memorable evening and is often sold in a gift box with commemorative champagne glasses. Drink up!