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Wine

Best Sparkling Wine

Whether you're celebrating a special occasion or simply looking for an intriguing wine to go with a seafood dish, a sparkling wine is a great choice. Sparkling wines are made all over the world, including Australia, South Africa, the United States, Italy, Spain, and France. There are a number of different types of sparkling wine. Prosecco is an Italian wine made from Glera grapes. This wine is carbonated in large steel vats and designed to be enjoyed soon after bottling. Cava, a Spanish sparkling wine, is made from any number of classic Spanish grapes. This wine is bottle fermented and can be aged in the cellar for a number of years. Finally, there are Champagne-style sparkling wines. These commonly made around the world and make use of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, the three grape varietals that grow in Champagne, France. These wines are also bottle fermented and most are aged for at least a few years before they're ready to enjoy.

The techniques of bottle fermenting were perfected in Champagne, France, which is why many people call any sparkling wine a "champagne." Technically, only wines that come from this provence are allowed to use the name Champagne, though the vast majority of sparkling wines are made in the Champagne-style. Since there is live yeast in the bottle, these wines have a toasty aroma.

When shopping for a sparkling wine, you may notice that these wines are organized by the level of residual sugar. Dry, extra-dry, and brut are the three most common sugar levels, with dry being the sweetest, and Brut being the driest. Less commonly, you may find wines labeled extra brut  and brut nature, which are extremely dry, and demi-sec and doux, which signify sweeter wines.

Finally, sparkling wines will be labeled with either the year harvested or the letters NV, which stands for Non-Vintage. Non-Vintage wines are blended from wines from a number of different harvests taken over a number of different years. They tend to be less expensive and more consistent than vintage wines though they are rarely as complex as a good vintage wine. When selecting a vintage wine, you'll want to make sure that the year was a good one for the grapes. Vintage wines are usually more expensive but are excellent when made in good years.

Scharffenberger Brut Excellence

Scharffenberger Brut Excellence

A blend of the classic Champagne grapes Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Scharffenberger Brut Excellence tops the list as our Best Budget Sparkling Wine. The California wine is full-bodied, with notes of vanilla, pastry, caramel, and fresh fruit. Since it's left on the lees for two years, this wine has a bold character that will hold up to many years in the cellar, though it's excellent right away. As a non-vintage wine, the Brut Excellence shows consistent character from year to year. Professional critics also consistently give this wine scores of over 90 points.

Segura Viudas ARIA Brut

Segura Viudas ARIA Brut

One of the Spain's most popular sparkling wines is Segura Viudas ARIA Brut. This award-winning non-vintage wine is made in the same style as French Champagne, though it uses a combination of classic Spanish grapes that give it a slightly different flavor profile. This wine has lots of tropical fruit flavors that are well-balanced by notes of freshly baked bread and honey. It's got an excellent bubble that stays vigorous for a long time after pouring, and a clean finish with a hint of bitter citrus.

Greg Norman Estates Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir

Greg Norman Estates Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir

Australia is known for it's great value wines so it should come as no surprise that this country is home to an excellent sparkling wine that's one of the best deals out there. Greg Norman Estates Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir is a Champagne-style sparkling wine blended from classic Champagne grapes. It's been aged for two years on the lees, giving it incredible complexity, and bottle fermented for a rich, toasty aroma. This wine has notes of strawberry, citrus, and stone and features a smooth, long finish. More fruit-forward than most Champagne-style wines, this is a great choice for a before dinner drink or as a sparkling wine to pair with seafood.

La Marca Prosecco DOC Extra Dry

La Marca Prosecco DOC Extra Dry

If you like a lot of fruit and just a hint of sweetness in your sparkling wine, Prosecco is an excellent choice and La Marca Prosecco DOC Extra Dry is our favorite of these Italian sparkling wines. This wine has melon, apple, citrus, and mineral notes and just a hint of residual sugar. The bubbles are incredibly tiny, making this wine dance on the tongue. Since it's a Prosecco, it isn't designed to be aged in the cellar, and is best when enjoyed right away. It also lacks the yeasty, toasted bread notes of Champagne-style sparkling wines, which allows the fresh fruit flavors to shine.

Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs

One of the biggest names in sparkling wine from Northern California, Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs is a great wine that won't make a dent in your bank account. Made primarily from Pinot Noir, this wine is left on the skins for a short time before it's pressed to allow a hint of color to escape from the dark red skins of the grapes. Though many people equate pink wines with sugary sweetness, this is a dry, crisp wine with a fruit-forward style. There are notes of berry and cherry, and a soft vanilla aroma that makes this a complex, luscious wine. The bubbles are small and lively, and the finish bold and long-lasting.

Luisi Moscato d'Asti '12

Luisi Moscato d'Asti '12

A frizzante wine that shows off all the robust flavor of the Moscato grape, Luisi Moscato d'Asti '12 is our favorite Moscato. 2012 didn't have as high a yield as other recent years, but the Moscato grapes that did manage to grow are some of the most flavorful of recent years. This wine is well balanced, with plenty of sweetness, floral notes, and soft bubbles. It's also low in alcohol so you don't have to think twice about pouring a second glass.

Fratelli Moscato d'Asti '12

Fratelli Moscato d'Asti '12

2012 wasn't the best year for wines in terms of yield, but the grapes that did survive through to harvest were excellent. The Fratelli Moscato d'Asti '12 is an incredible Moscato made frizzante in the traditional Italian fashion. It features floral notes and flavors of apple, as well as a high acidity that balances the sweetness well. The alcohol in this wine is only 6.5 percent, which is good considering how easy this wine is to drink.

Robert Mondavi Moscato d'Oro '09

Robert Mondavi Moscato d'Oro '09

One of the best known winemakers in Northern California, Robert Mondavi makes one of the best Moscatos in the world. Their Moscato d'Oro '09 is well-balanced, sweet, and fruity, with a soft, floral aroma. 2009 was an excellent year for wine in Northern California and these grapes are packed full of flavor. Though there's a lot of fruit and flower in this wine, the sweetness isn't overwhelming. This still Moscato could be enjoyed during dessert, or with a spicy meal to offer a refreshing break from a dish such as a hot Thai curry.

Boeri Ribota Moscato D'asti '10

Boeri Ribota Moscato D'asti '10

A frizzante wine from the Asti region of Italy, Boeri Ribota Moscato D'Asti 2010 is an excellent choice when it comes to Moscato wines. This wine has received high scores from professional critics, who note its exceptional balance and rich fruit flavors. The bubble is tiny and delicate, which helps to make this wine feel incredibly light on the tongue. Though it shows off the fruity qualities of the grape very well, this wine is prepared Extra Dry, meaning that it's not particularly sweet. Though it may taste slightly sugary at first sip, by the time you reach the finish, this wine will dry out considerably. This makes it an good wine to enjoy as an aperitif or with a meal instead of during the dessert course.

Barefoot Wine Moscato

Barefoot Wine Moscato

The Gold Medal winner at the San Francisco Chronical Wine Competition, Barefoot Wine Moscato is an excellent Moscato with a citrusy nose and plenty of sweet fruit flavors. This is a still wine that's on the sweet side, making it a great choice for an after dinner drink. It's incredibly aromatic, as a good Moscato should be, with notes of white flowers, ripe fruit, and orange. The finish is medium and quite sugary, without any acidity or bitterness to get in the way of the sweetness. It's also one of the most reasonably priced Moscatos out there, without sacrificing quality for price.

Roederer Estate L'Ermitage '04

Roederer Estate L'Ermitage '04

Crafted in California's Anderson Valley, Roederer Estate L'Ermitage '04 is an incredible sparkling wine. In order to keep the quality high, Roederer Estate only produces sparkling wines in years when the harvest was exceptional and 2004 was one of the best for Northern California. This wine is made from a near 50-50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which are also the two most popular grapes in Champagne, France. It has notes of red apple and fresh flowers, and plenty of toasted bread on the nose. Though this wine was aged in oak casks for years before it underwent bottle fermentation, it's an incredibly fresh-tasking wine that's ready to enjoy right away.

Veuve Ambal '10

Veuve Ambal '10

Hailing from Burgundy, France, Veuve Ambal is an excellent Champagne-style sparkling wine that doesn't come with an unreasonably high price tag. It's made from a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and has an incredibly complex flavor profile. This wine is fruit-forward, with mulberry, apricot, raspberry, and currant, and also has alluring aromas of hazelnut, honey, and butter. The bubbles are small and vigorous, and last for a long time after you pour yourself a glass. Veuve makes a vintage Ambal each year that the harvest allows, though the '10 is one of the best in recent years.

Joseph Perrier Champagne Cuvee Royale

Joseph Perrier Champagne Cuvee Royale

Though most of the wines are from outside of Champagne, we couldn't help but include Joseph Perrier Champagne Cuvee Royale as one of our favorite sparkling wines. This wine is an even blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay and is aged for at least three years before it's released. It has notes of citrus, apple, and vanilla, and a firm, long finish. The bubbles are vigorous and last for a long time in the glass. Though this sparkling wine is from a part of the world notorious for its high prices, a bottle of this bubbly retails for an incredibly reasonable price. The 2002 is one of our favorite vintages and has been rated 98 points by professional critics.

Domaine Carneros Le Reve '06

Domaine Carneros Le Reve '06

Though it sports a fancy French name, Domaine Carneros Le Reve '06 hails from Northern California. This harvest in 2006 was excellent in this part of the world, and this wine shows off all the best qualities of Champagne-style wines. It has lots of butter and brioche on the nose, as well as white flower and white fruit. The flavor profile includes fresh fruit, toasted almond, and creme brulee, making this an incredibly robust, well-rounded wine. The bubbles are lively and long-lasting and the finish incredibly long and full. Though this is an excellent wine to drink right away, it'll also last for 15 years or more in the wine cellar.

Domaine Chandon Etoile Brut Sparkling Wine

Domaine Chandon Etoile Brut Sparkling Wine

A few decades ago, a number of French wine makers hailing from Champagne started a new winery in Northern California. Since it's first release, Chandon has been making some of the best sparkling wine in the world. Chandon Etoile Brut truly is a star among sparkling wines. This wine is blended from all three classic Champagne grapes, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. It has flavors of citrus, green apple, berry, and smoke, and a long, satisfying finish. The bubble isn't overpowering, which allows the flavors to come through brilliantly. Since this is a non-vintage wine, it's blended from the best harvests and each year's release shows the same complexity and high quality that has made Chandon one of the most recognizable names in sparkling wine.

Segura Viudas ARIA Brut

Segura Viudas ARIA Brut

One of the Spain's most popular sparkling wines is Segura Viudas ARIA Brut. This award-winning non-vintage wine is made in the same style as French Champagne, though it uses a combination of classic Spanish grapes that give it a slightly different flavor profile. This wine has lots of tropical fruit flavors that are well-balanced by notes of freshly baked bread and honey. It's got an excellent bubble that stays vigorous for a long time after pouring, and a clean finish with a hint of bitter citrus.

Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut

Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut

A beautifully spicy Cava in a stylish black bottle, Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut is one of our favorite Cavas. This is a dry wine, with a crisp mouthfeel and a smooth finish that's not overly acidic or bitter. It has notes of fresh fruit, citrus, and spice, flavors that give it a nice complexity. It's been bottle conditioned for at least 18 months prior to release and is ready to drink right away, though it could certainly hold up to a couple of years in the cellar. Since this is a non-vintage wine, it's also remarkably consistent, a fact that makes it one of the world's most popular sparkling wines.

Canals & Nubiola Cava Brut

Canals & Nubiola Cava Brut

A mellow Cava that shows off the earthy quality that sets Spanish wines apart from other wines around the world, Canals & Nubiola Cava Brut is an excellent Cava. This wine is well-balanced, with a crisp finish. It also has a lively bubble that lasts for a long time after pouring. The flavor profile has notes of dried fruit, citrus, and earth, all of which come together to create a well-rounded wine that will hold up for a number of years of proper storage in the wine cellar.

 Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava

Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava

Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava is an incredibly inexpensive wine that doesn't sacrifice one bit on flavor. This wine has notes of apple, ginger, almond cream, and pastry and ends with a long, smokey finish. Much of the wine's complexity comes from the fact that it's left on the lees for 18 months. This lends the wine a great deal of character and a boldness that will hold up to the test of time. The flavors of this Cava will continue to mature if it's left in the cellar for a few more years.

Princesa Cava Brut Nature

Princesa Cava Brut Nature

A favorite with wine critics, Princesa Cava Brut Nature is an incredibly dry Cava with a vigorous bubble. As a brut nature, this wine is the driest of the dry and as such, may not be right for wine drinkers who prefer their wine to have a little sweetness. Though it's dry, there's still plenty of fruit in the flavor, along with a rich bready aroma from the bottle fermentation. The finish is bone dry, with notes of stone and bitter citrus, and the bubbles are small and vigorous, giving it a crisp mouthfeel.

La Marca Prosecco DOC Extra Dry

La Marca Prosecco DOC Extra Dry

If you like a lot of fruit and just a hint of sweetness in your sparkling wine, Prosecco is an excellent choice and La Marca Prosecco DOC Extra Dry is our favorite of these Italian sparkling wines. This wine has melon, apple, citrus, and mineral notes and just a hint of residual sugar. The bubbles are incredibly tiny, making this wine dance on the tongue. Since it's a Prosecco, it isn't designed to be aged in the cellar, and is best when enjoyed right away. It also lacks the yeasty, toasted bread notes of Champagne-style sparkling wines, which allows the fresh fruit flavors to shine.

Nino Franco Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG

Nino Franco Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG

A brut Prosecco, Nino Franco Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG is a great option for those who prefer their wines without any sweetness. Though it's incredibly crisp and dry, it still features plenty of fruit flavors, as well as a slight floral quality that adds to its complexity. The bubbles are incredibly small, which allows this wine to dance on the tongue, adding to its crispness. Since this is a non-vintage Prosecco, it's blended from grapes harvested over a number of different years, making this a reliable wine that doesn't change much from year to year.

Cavit Lunetta Prosecco DOC Brut

Cavit Lunetta Prosecco DOC Brut

Though better known for its line of Pinot Grigio wines, Cavit also makes an excellent Prosecco. Cavit Lunetta Prosecco DOC Brut is a dry wine with a fine bubble that lasts for a long time. It has notes of honeydew, apple, and peach that make this a fruit forward wine without any sweetness. The finish is clean and crisp with just a hint of citrus at the end. Since it's made by Cavit, this Prosecco is also one of the most popular and easiest to find at grocery stores and specialty wine shops. It's also quite inexpensive, making this an excellent go-to bubbly for special occasions and simple dinners at home.

Mionetto Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Frizzante Treviso Brut

Mionetto Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Frizzante Treviso Brut

Though most Prosecco wines have lots of tiny bubbles, traditionally, this wine can also be made frizzante style. This style is only slightly effervescent, making it easier to pick out the delicate flavors and aromas. Mionetto Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Frizzante Treviso Brut is an excellent representation of this style of wine and is one of our favorite Proseccos. The flavors show off melon and pear notes, and the finish is clean and incredibly dry. Mionetto is one of the best-known names in Venetian wines, and the winery has been around for over 125 years, perfecting the art of making excellent Prosecco.

Silvano Follador Prosecco Brut DOCG

Silvano Follador Prosecco Brut DOCG

Though most Prosecco has a small amount of sugar, there are some wine drinkers who prefer their sparkling wines to be as dry as they come. For these wine drinkers, there's Silvano Follador Prosecco Brut Nature. As a brut nature, this wine is incredibly dry, though as a Prosecco, there's still plenty of fresh fruit on the palate. This wine has notes of apple, peach, and white flower that make it seem almost sweet at first sip. But as the wine reaches its finish, it dries out considerably, leaving a clean minerality that sets it apart from the competition. The bubbles are extremely small and quite active, giving this wine a lightness that makes it very easy to drink.

Crystal Beran
Crystal Beran has spent the past 10 years immersed in the exciting and delicious world of food and drink. She has honed her cooking skills as a baker, a caterer, and a personal chef, and currently spends a good deal of her time training the next generation of young chefs. Her work as a wine steward has helped her to develop a discerning palate and a love of excellent wines from all over the world. Over the years, she has had the good fortune to visit wineries in Northern California, Tanzania, France, and Italy. In her spare time, she brews beer and invents delectable dishes to share with friends, family, and students.
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