If you’ve seen my social media you know that I love to get my champagne on! Given the crazy times (you know this BS called 2020?!), I’ve popped more bottles, particularly this past summer, than I ever have in recent memory. I’m not one to save my bubbles for a special occasion and have no problem popping one open with a weekday meal. Get yourself a good champagne stopper (like this one) and you’ll buy yourself several days’ time if you don’t finish it the day you open it. Seriously, if you’re one of those folks that saves all the bubbles for a special occasion – stop it! Given the f*ckery that this year has thrown at us, we all owe ourselves some good bubbly as often as we like. And if you don’t like bubbles, well there’s just no hope for you. Like, wth is wrong with you?! j/k…not really.
And while champagne is without a doubt my first bubbly love, I do enjoy bubbles from around the world. Places like South Africa, the Loire Valley, Mendoza, and even Washington State are making some delicious sparkling wines – and with varietals other than the standard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that we find in champagne. Just don’t open one and complain that it’s not champagne. It’s NOT meant to be. These wines have their own distinct vibes and shouldn’t be compared to champagne. The group of wines below offer something for a variety of palates and wait for it – ALL of them are sparkling wines under $25! You’re welcome!
What: Gouguenheim Sparkling Malbec Rosé (~$11)
Where: Mendoza, Argentina
Why: When local sommelier Sean Beck from Backstreet Café posted about this wine, I didn’t hesitate to send him a note to buy a bottle. I’d never had a sparkling Malbec before and was itching to try this one. That, and he never steers me wrong. Unlike a typical Argentinian Malbec with dark fruits, this is all about juicy red fruits (strawberries and cherries) and surprisingly delicate bubbles. I mean, who the heck knew?! Houston peeps should check with Sean (#SupportLocal) to see if he has more. This is actually the bottle that got me thinking about how good sparkling wines under $25 could be!
What: Treveri Gewürztraminer Demi-Sec (~$17)
Where: Columbia Valley, Washington
Why: Where my sweet wine lovers at? People have a love-hate relationship with Gewürztraminer, but I’ve always been a fan. Bring me some Vietnamese cuisine and a bottle of gewürz, and I’m a happy camper. I’ve also been known to have it with boiled crawfish. This one hails from the all-sparkling, family-owned producer Treveri Cellars out of Washington State. Don’t be put off by the “sweet” in this one as its mid-level acidity helps it from being syrupy sweet. One whiff and you’ll be pulled in by the honey, cloves, baked apples and more. Great as a dessert wine or dessert itself. I got mine from Belle & Bottle, a female solopreneur out of Seattle who incidentally has a killer bubbles wine club offering. Talk about a great gift to someone!
What: Steenberg Farm Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc (~$18)
Where: Constantia, South Africa
Why: Outside of the Loire Valley, I struggle with Sauvignon Blanc. I’m just not a fan of most the green, grassy versions (though there are some exceptions). But when you give me some tropical fruit, I can go all in on SB. This one hits you with guava, apricots, pears, peaches and just a smidge of the “green” which is how I like it. From Steenberg Farm in South Africa, which is the oldest registered farm in the Cape, this one is quite delightful. My Houston peeps can grab some at HEB or Central Market. Plus, this traditional method sparkler will pair with darn near anything.
What: Domaine Bousquet Sparkling Brut (~$13)
Where: Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina
Why: If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I’m a big fan of Domaine Bousquet. These are some of the great QPR wines around. This Charmat-method sparkling rosé is a 75/25 blend of organically grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. I enjoy bubbly made in this method (also used for Prosecco) because it gives us those fruity flavors and aromas. Yes, I enjoy my chalk, biscuits, and minerals, but sometimes a girl just wants some fruit. The delicate bubbles along with strawberry cream and tangerine offers a pleasurable sip though and through. This one was provided as a sample, but it can also be found at Central Market.
What: Serol “Turbullent” Rosé (~$19-25)
Where: Loire Valley, France
Why: This ancestrale méthode sparkler aka pet-nat is 100% Gamay (isn’t that enough?) and hails from the Côte Roannaise in the Loire Valley. Sometimes pet-nat can go awry, but in this case, it’s quite well done. Clocking in at 8% abv, it is also VERY drinkable and so darn refreshing. It is everything a porch pounder should be – lower alcohol, fruit forward, easy to drink, and damn good! It’s also a fabulous brunch wine. Fine, lively bubbles along with raspberries, strawberries, and red apples, as well as a touch of residual sugar. I’ve had this one on a number of occasions. I’ve purchased at local wine bar 13 Celsius as well as Spec’s.
What: La Gioiosa Prosecco Rosé (<$25)
Where: Veneto, Italy
Why: Because Prosecco Rosé is now a thing! Two of the most popular trends in wine – rosé and Prosecco are now permitted under local wine law (as of May 2020) to join together to produce rosé under the Prosecco DOC designation. Before the law change, producers could make these wines but could not call them ‘Prosecco.’ I’ve had a couple of these wines (sans the designation) at a couple of tastings last year. You know, when in-person tastings with winemakers was a thing?! Anywho, you don’t have to wait much longer as these wines are beginning to show up in wine markets as we speak. Some folks will see them in mid-to late December while others will see them by the end of January 2021. This beauty is imported by Ethica Wines and seriously gives me all the floral notes and fruit that I so enjoy in Prosecco and rosé.
Cheers to affordable sparkling wines under $25! Like for real! And wishing you all a bubbly holiday season.
Notes: This post contains affiliate links. Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.