More sparkling wine is poured between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day than at any other time of year. Thanks to Pfizer and Moderna, that should continue in 2020.
But the bubbles don’t have to come exclusively from Champagne. And while the appeal of the great ones from Krug, Bollinger, and Salon to Dom Perignon, Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame, and Roederer Cristal is constant, the national economy and the personal budget may point to more moderation.
Here are some sparklers that are value-priced alternatives and easy to recommend.
Prosecco, the festive wine from northeast Italy, gives you plenty for your euro.
Try the easygoing Ruggeri Prosecco DOC Treviso Brut Argeo (★★ $13.99) and the Ruffino Prosecco DOC (★ $13.99). The brisk Ruffino has suggestions of peach; the zesty Ruggeri, hints of apple.
And the lively, citrusy, dry Zardetto DOC Brut Prosecco (★★ $20), made with certifiably organic grapes, is floral, effervescent, and very refreshing. The wine announces itself via a dual-layered label. Peel it to uncover artwork created for the specific bottle.
Move into France and uncork the Domaine Camille Braun Cremant d’Alsace Brut (★★ $25) and the Joseph Cattin Cremant d’Alsace Brut (★★ $25); the Braun is floral and refined, made mainly with pinot blanc; the Cattin, lush and loaded with cherry and berries, primarily strawberry.
Veering south and west, the Henri Champliau Cremant de Bourgogne Brut Authentique (★★ $28) delivers a very satisfying bubbly, defined by pinot noir but also a shot of chardonnay.
Heading to Austria: the Loimer Brut Rose Reserve (★★★ $35), a spirited choice with traces of cherry, strawberry, and peach.
Segue to Spain for the Los Dos Cava Brut Rose (★ $13), and a sip of this crisp, slightly floral bargain-priced sparkler.
About 11,000 miles from Spain is Tasmania, the source of the vibrant nonvintage Jansz Premier Rose (★★ $30), a lithe and fruity production that harvests aromas of melon and apple.
Amber-hued, fruity, fragrant, and sporting considerable style, Billionaires Row Cuvee XO (★★★ $65) is a fine, balanced, and deftly blended brandy. It does have a lot of competition, but this cuvee stands out with sweet-spicy charm. While Billionaires Row can be enjoyed on the rocks or in either a Sidecar or a French 75, sample it neat.
Shmaltz Brewing Co. in Troy, N.Y. specializes in celebratory beers. The beer for Hanukkah this year: Golden Jelly Doughnut Pastry Ale (★ $12 four-pack), a malty number brewed with purees of raspberry and cherry, with vanilla and natural flavors added. It’s a playful production that goes with more than latkes
Richer, more complex, and lasting is Shmaltz’s newest entry in its She’brew line: the #RBG IPA, (★★ $15), a silky, milkshake India Pale Ale made with raspberry, blueberry, and grapefruit. It honors the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the trailblazing, associate justice of the Supreme Court and a profound voice for civil rights and gender equality. A portion of the profits go to the ACLU Women’s Rights Project and the Pink Boots Society, an educational organization to assist alcoholic beverage professionals.
Pickers Unplugged Vodka Soda (★ $18.99 eight-pack) has zero sugar and zero carbs, all of which zero in on a target audience. Pickers craft vodka itself is pretty smooth and the lineup of soda flavors includes raspberry, cranberry-lime, tangerine, and grapefruit. The sodas, which include sparkling water, are 10 proof and 96 calories. Produced by the Pennington Distilling Company in Nashville. pickersvodka.com
HAVE WINE – WILL TRAVEL
This discreet, good-looking purse made of “vegan leather,” is a package, complete with spout and a removable zippered pouch, that can hold 1.5 liters of wine. The spout is hidden behind the crest flap. The PortoVino bags’ insulated pocket keeps the wine chilled. It works for beverages other than wine, too. The wine “bladder” should be replaced after each use. Sold on the PortoVino site. The women’s collection includes a canvas bag ($49.95), a tote ($54.95), and other models from $74.95 to $249.95. The men’s collection includes a messenger bag ($74.95) and a backpack ($54.95). porto-vino.com
You may accessorize, as above, with a scarf-mask ($12.99) that may come in handy this season.
GoSili introduces a collection of silicone cups, tops, straws, and keychains and travel tins containing straws. The reusable products are dishwasher- and microwave-safe. The cups, in various sizes and colors, are $10-$20; to-go cups, $10-$17; universal tops, $6-$7; silicone straw with travel tin or keychain, $3 to $8; straw multipacks, $5-$8. Available at gosili.com
If you’d like to hide the label of your gift of, say, Chateau Latour or Screaming Eagle, visit Prank-O. The fake labels include Chateau La-Di-Da (an Annie Hall favorite?) and Highway’s Bounty (for roadkill fans). The investment is $5. And an occasional laugh is good now. pranko.com
“The Terroir of Whiskey: A Distiller’s Journey into the Flavor of Place” (Columbia University Press, $27.95) by Rob Arnold offers an informative and entertaining tour of taste. “Terroir,” the French word for land, has been used in describing wines for decades. It’s meant to take in the natural environment where the wine is made, from soil to climate. Each wine region may have its own distinctive terroir. Rob Arnold looks at whiskey that way, going from Texas to Scotland, Kentucky to Ireland. Amply detailed and footnoted. You can tell the research must have been fun. Pass the Bruichladdich.
ABOUT THE BLOGGER
For 34 years, Peter Gianotti reviewed wines, spirits, restaurants, and books at Newsday. He twice won Press Club of New York awards for food writing. Before he became a food critic, Gianotti was a Washington correspondent, a financial writer, and New York City reporter for the newspaper. His books include “Food Lovers’ Guide to Long Island” and “A Guide to Long Island Wine Country.” Gianotti received his B.A. from Fordham University, where he taught journalism; and his M.S. from Columbia University, where he also was a Bagehot Fellow. Harry, his Creamsicle-hued assistant, prefers the bouquets of riesling and pinot noir.