A bottle of bubbles generally promises a good time, whether you’re hosting a party or enjoying a casual at-home happy hour. However, knowing what you’re drinking—and which bottles to seek out—is key.
“One of the many great things about sparkling wine is the ever-increasing diversity of styles,” says Sam Stoppelmoor, wine director and general manager at La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels in New York. “From Champagne to crémant, Asti to American sparkling, there is one question I always ask: Is it delicious? I want my sparkling wines to be clean, refreshing, and easy to drink. They can be straightforward or extraordinarily complex.”
Clean, refreshing, and easy to drink? Noted. We’ve compiled a list of the best sparkling wines to drink under the sun, featuring various styles, categories, grape varieties, and regions. Get ready to pop some corks.
Egly-Ouriet Brut Tradition Grand Cru
Region: Champagne, France | ABV: 12.5% | Tasting Notes: Black cherry, mint, pastry dough
Delicious, elegant, and frustratingly rare, the flagship Champagne from winemaker Francis Egly deserves a high spot on your list of bottles to try this year. Egly-Ouriet is an RM (récoltant-manipulant) or “grower” Champagne, meaning that the grapes are grown by the same estate that makes the wine—allowing for a cohesion of terroir and process that eludes the more familiar high-end brands.
Utilizing a blend of pinot noir (70%) and chardonnay (30%) grown in the grand cru villages of Bouzy, Verzenay, and Ambonnay, the Brut Tradition is a textured and expressive Champagne. It drinks deliciously when it’s young and only adds richness with a few years of aging.
The palate is complex and generous, with flavors of black cherry, fresh mint, and toasted pastries leading to a savory mushroom finish. This is a gorgeous and textbook Champagne—and if Champagne is the king of sparkling wines, the Brut Tradition is a pretty solid standard-bearer for the entire category.
Gruet Brut NV
Region: New Mexico | ABV: 12% | Tasting Notes: Green apple, orange rind, toast
Bubbles from New Mexico? You bet. This shockingly affordable sparkling wine is produced by the Gruet family (originally from Champagne) in Albuquerque. Their Champenoise roots bring an Old World touch to these méthode traditionelle sparklers, which are produced from classic Champagne varieties. This lively bottle of bubbles jumps with flavors of green apple, orange rind, and toast. Making weeknight bubbles a thing has never been easier (or economical).
Agrapart & Fils Minéral Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut Champagne Grand Cru 'Avize'
Region: Champagne, France | ABV: 12% | Tasting Notes: Pear, baked bread, crushed rocks
When the night calls for something extra special, this vintage Champagne from Agrapart always promises a good time. Arguably the liveliest of its cuvées, this organic wine is produced from old vines in the heart of Avize, located in the Côte des Blancs. Chalky notes of pear, sweet spice, freshly baked bread, and crushed rocks ooze from the wine’s textured palate. This bottle ain’t for the faint of heart.
Related: The Best Champagnes
Best Blanc de Blancs
Pierre Peters ‘Cuvée de Réserve’ Blanc de Blancs Brut
Region: Champagne, France | ABV: 12% | Tasting Notes: Marzipan, apricots, white flowers
This world-class blanc de blancs is loaded with flavors of apricots, marzipan, white flowers, and grilled nuts. The wine’s creamy, full-bodied palate and persistent mousse lead to a lasting, palate-coating finish. Given the prestige of its producer, this bottle is a steal for the price. (Note: Blanc de blancs simply means that only white grape varieties are used in the blend. Most blanc de blancs tend to be crafted from 100% chardonnay, like the expression here.)
“I like blanc de blancs to get my mouth watering and ready to eat,” says Coney. “If I’m opening more than one wine for dinner I tend to go for a blanc de blancs often because I love chardonnay.” Lexi Jones, co-founder and director of imports and distribution at Amlière Imports LLC & Argaux LLC, suggests sipping rich blanc de blancs wines with shellfish or scallops.
Best Blanc de Noirs
Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs
Region: Napa, California | ABV: 13% | Tasting Notes: Strawberries, brioche, citrus
And on the contrary, blanc de noirs indicates that only red-skinned fruit (generally pinot noir and/or pinot meunier) is used. This sustainably-produced expression from Schramsberg is vibrant, full-bodied, and loaded with flavors of red fruits, strawberries, and minerals. The wine is produced using the méthode traditionelle at one of the oldest estates in California. Sip chilled with charcuterie boards or other happy hour snacks.
Best Sparkling Rosé
Jansz Tasmania Brut Rosé
Region: Tasmania, Australia | ABV: 12.5% | Tasting Notes: Candied fruit, cream, rose petals
This pinot noir-dominant rosé from the Land Down Under oozes with flavors of candied red fruit, rhubarb, cream, and rose petals. The wine undergoes secondary fermentation in bottle and is aged on the lees for three years prior to release. Jansz has been pioneering high-quality sparkling wines from Tasmania since 1975. All fruit is responsibly farmed and is cultivated in cool-climate areas in Pipers River.
“I’m from the South. I love pairing [this wine] with things like fried shrimp po’boys, crawfish jambalaya, and French fries,” says wine and travel consultant Julia Coney. “I also love rosé sparkling wine with steak, specifically flank or filet mignon.”
“When I think about my favorite sparkling wine producers and which cuvée I truly enjoy drinking the most, it tends to be [this] rosé,” says Stoppelmoor. “If we are talking about which style to drink with certain foods, I look to rosé for dishes that need a little more body, but can also marry with the red fruit characteristics of the wine.” Stoppelmoor notes that sparkling rosé works particularly well with pork dishes, Thanksgiving turkey, and savory dishes that incorporate red fruits (such as spinach salad with goat cheese and strawberries).
Related: The Best Rosé Wines
Best Sparkling Red
Lini ‘910’ Labrusca Lambrusco Rosso
Region: Emilia-Romagna, Italy | ABV: 11% | Tasting Notes: Red fruit, dark berries, balsamic
There’s a reason why Italians drink lambrusco all day long—it’s fruity, it’s relatively low alcohol, and it’s seriously tasty. Lini ‘910’ is produced from sustainably-farmed fruit via the martinotti (charmat) method. Flavors of ripe red fruit and forest berries jump from the wine’s juicy palate (think of this stuff like grape juice for adults). Sip with pizza or barbecue dishes.
Faire La Fête Crémant de Limoux
Region: Languedoc-Roussillon, France | ABV: 12% | Tasting Notes: Grapefruit, brioche, mineral
Well-made crémants are some of the sparkling wine world’s best-kept secrets. These bubblies are produced all over France via the same vinification techniques as Champagne (secondary fermentation and lees aging in bottle), but they generally cost a fraction of the price.
The crémants from Limoux in southwestern France have special bragging rights: Around 1531, the monks of Saint Hilaire Abbey in Limoux developed the methods for producing sparkling wine—prior to those methods ever being known in Champagne. This classically-styled crémant from Faire La Fête boasts a party of fresh flavors ranging from grapefruit and lime to clean mineral and fresh-baked brioche. The cépage of 70% chardonnay, 20% chenin blanc, and 10% pinot noir is typical of the region.
Related: The Best Cheap Wines
Naveran Cava Vintage Brut
Region: Penedès, Spain | ABV: 11.5% | Tasting Notes: Apple skin, roasted almonds, yeast
This estate-bottled vintage cava is one of the best quality-to-price-ratio bubbly options on the market. Produced from the region’s classic trio of grapes (xarel-lo, macabeo, and parellada), the organic wine jumps with notes of apple skin, grilled almonds, yeast, and grapefruit rind. Naveran has been producing méthode traditionelle sparkling wines that rival some of France’s best since 1901—stand this bottle up against one of Champagne’s bigger-brand names and see where the value lies!
Patrick Bottex Bugey-Cerdon ‘La Cueille’
Region: Savoie, France | ABV: 8% | Tasting Notes: Berry compote, white cherries, strawberries and cream
This sweet-yet-balanced fizzy wine from eastern France jumps with flavors of white cherries, raspberry compote, and strawberries. Produced via the méthode ancestrale, the gamay/poulsard blend is bottled with a noticeable amount of residual sugar, which is kept in check by truckloads of natural acidity. Fair warning—this stuff may just become your new obsession (and at just 8% ABV, it's almost too easy to drink).
Related: The Best Sweet Wines
Aphros Phaunus Pet Nat
Region: Vinho Verde, Portugal | ABV: 11.5% | Tasting Notes: Green apple, lemon, sourdough
The wines known as pét-nat (pétillant naturel, or naturally sparkling) are finally getting the love they deserve, and it’s no surprise that bubble enthusiasts everywhere can’t get enough. These fresh, fizzy wines are produced via the méthod ancestrale, meaning the wine is bottled prior to the completion of fermentation. The Phaunus Pet Nat from Aphros is a sparkling Loureiro hailing from the Vinho Verde region of Portugal. Expect bright acidity and flavors of green apple, lemon, and yeasty sourdough.
Best Skin-Contact Sparkling
Domaine Glinavos ‘Paleokerisio’
Region: Ioannina, Greece | ABV: 10.5% | Tasting Notes: Apple cider, peach skin, citrus
This unique, semi-sparkling orange wine from Greece is perfect for skin-contact wine lovers looking for something different. Produced exclusively from local grape varieties (debina, vlahiko, and bekari), the partially sweet wine is marked by notes of apple cider, peach skin, and tangy citrus. Paleokerisio means “old fashioned,” which pays homage to this revived style of semi-sparkling winemaking.
Related: The Best Orange Wines
Leclerc Briant Réserve Brut Champagne N.V.
Region: Champagne, France | ABV: 12% | Tasting Notes: Honeysuckle, butter, chalk
Although the majority of the wines featured here are organic, we’re giving this honor to one of the O.G. pioneers of organic farming in Champagne. Originally based in Cumières, Bertrand Leclerc moved the estate to Epernay when he married Jacqueline Briant back in 1955. Jacqueline, a fervent supporter of organic farming, shifted practices at the winery back in the 1960s (and pioneered the bottling of single-vineyard cuvées at the domaine, too). Additionally, the estate has been certified biodynamic (DEMETER) since 2003.
On the palate, this leesy Champagne jumps with flavors of ripe peach, chalk, dried citrus, honeysuckle, butter, and cream. Light dosage, bright acid, and a rather medium body make the balanced bottle extremely easy to drink. It’s accessible luxury at its finest.
Best for Celebrating
Lanson Green Label Organic Brut Champagne N.V.
Region: Champagne, France | ABV: 12.5% | Tasting Notes: Tart apples, lemon zest, toasted bread
A delicious bottle of bubbly is a party in itself, and this crisp, acid-driven Champagne is no exception. Made with organic fruit, the wine is laden with flavors of juicy citrus, lemon zest, tart green apples, and toasty bread. Sip with all things fried for an out-of-this-world pairing.
However, we believe that truly great sparkling wines never need a ‘reason’ to be popped. “I don’t find bubbles celebratory,” says Coney. “I find bubbles are meant to be drunk like a regular still wine. At the end of the day, it is still a wine. It just happens to have bubbles. I drink sparkling wine a few times a week.”
Best for Happy Hour
Masia Salat Organic Cava
Region: Penedès, Spain | ABV: 11.5% | Tasting Notes: Citrus, honey, almonds
Aside from tasting great, happy hour bubbles should be affordable, delicious, and responsibly made—enter Masia Salat Organic Cava. Produced from the region’s signature trio of grapes, this floral-tinged wine is laden with flavors of citrus, honey, and fresh almonds. Pair with Spanish-inspired tapas or simple meat and cheese boards for a delicious happy hour at home.
Best for New Year’s Eve
Pol Roger Brut Réserve
Region: Champagne, France | ABV: 12% | Tasting Notes: Lemon cream, biscuit, white flowers
New Year’s Eve is all about the bubbles, and popping something celebratory goes without question. Pol Roger’s White Foil is produced from pinot noir, pinot meunier, and chardonnay sourced from various growing sites across the region.
Notes of lemon cream, biscuit, white flowers, and a whisper of truffle harmoniously collide on the palate and lead to a lasting full-bodied finish. (Fun fact: This bottle was the sparkling wine of choice at several royal weddings, including Princess Eugenie of York’s nuptials to Mr. Jack Brooksbank.)
Best for Mimosas
Alberto Nani Organic Prosecco Extra Dry N.V.
Region: Veneto, Italy | ABV: 11% | Tasting Notes: Grapefruit, tart pears, honey
We believe that quality should never be sacrificed, even when you’re using wine for cocktails. This crisp and zesty prosecco is loaded with flavors of tart pears, orchard fruit, grapefruit, and a touch of honey. Mix with your favorite fresh-squeezed juice for a delicious at-home brunch cocktail.
“Some of my favorite sparkling wine pairings are those in which many other wines fall short,” explains Stoppelmoor. “Egg dishes are notoriously hard to pair with—they often clash with reds and whites—but sparkling wines lift the fat right off your palate and accentuate the nuanced flavors while cleansing your palate of any lingering egg-y flavors.”
Related: The Best Proseccos
Best for Gifting
Laherte Freres Ultradition Brut Champagne N.V.
Region: Champagne, France | ABV: 12.5% | Tasting Notes: Brioche, baked apple, citrus
This delicious, full-bodied Champagne is as good as it gets. Now headed by Aurélien Laherte, the family-owned estate has been producing wines in the village of Chavot since 1889. Today, all fruit is farmed organically and biodynamically, and Aurélien puts a strong emphasis on single-vineyard bottlings to highlight his unique vineyard site. ‘Ultradition’ bursts with flavors of baked apples, citrus, brioche, and minerals.
“When I’m looking for sparkling wine, I typically look for that classic rich and nutty brioche flavor profile that also has a little bit of green apple zip to it,” says Jones. She notes that she particularly enjoys these flavors with fried chicken, dim sum, and oysters.
If you can get your hands on it, the Egly-Ouriet Brut Tradition (view on Vivino) is a truly elegant and evocative bottle of Champagne that’s well worth the increasingly steep price tag. On the more reasonable end of the cost spectrum, the Jansz Tasmania Brut Rosé (view on Drizly) is a well-made and delicious offering with southern hemisphere stylings tempered by classic structure and poise.
What To Look For
Method of Preparation
There are three methods used to create quality sparkling wine: the traditional method (méthode traditionelle or méthode champenoise), the martinotti (or charmat) method, and the ancestral method (méthode ancestrale). The traditional method is used to make Champagne, cava, and crémants, and involves reigniting still wine with a secondary fermentation (executed in the bottle) using a mixture of yeast and sugar. These wines age on their lees in bottle and are then disgorged, dosed (if desired), and then recorked prior to selling.
The martinotti/charmat method is used to make most lambruscos and proseccos. This process also involves a secondary fermentation that, unlike the traditional method, is executed in pressurized tanks. Charmat method wines are generally fresher, less complex, and are meant to be consumed in their youth. Ancestral method wines (pét-nats or naturally sparkling, for example), only undergo one fermentation, which completes itself in the bottle. As a result, these sparklers often have bits of leftover sediment and/or residual sugar in them. Fear not, though, as these elements are totally harmless.
A key term to look for on your bottle of bubbly is an indication of the sweetness level. We’ve all seen phrases like “brut” and “extra dry” on labels before...but what do they mean? (And does it surprise you to learn that “brut” is actually drier than “extra dry?”)
Champagne producers long ago introduced a sweetness scale that’s now mostly adhered to by producers of sparkling wine worldwide. It goes as follows: Doux (“sweet”) is the sweetest category, followed by demi-sec (“semi-dry”), and sec (“dry,” but not nearly as dry as the categories that follow).
Then, there is extra dry, then brut (which means “raw” or “rough,” and which makes up over 90% of all Champagne produced), then extra brut, and finally brut nature at the driest end of the spectrum. Seek out the sweetness designation on the label and buy according to your sweet tooth.
What’s the difference between Champagne and other sparkling wines?
Any sparkling wine labeled “Champagne” must be produced within Champagne, a geographical region in northeast France.
However, certain sparkling wines produced elsewhere in the world may be produced using the Champagne method, in which the secondary fermentation, the step which creates the bubbles, takes place in each individual bottle.
Regions producing bubblies made with the Champagne method include Italy (where it’s known as metodo classico), Spain and Portugal (método tradicional), California, Australia, and even regions of France outside of Champagne (where the method is known as méthode traditionnelle).
Many other popular sparkling wines, such as prosecco and sekt, are made using less labor-intensive processes than the Champagne method.
How do you properly store sparkling wine?
Store your bubbly like you would any other fine wine: on its side in a cool, low-light environment.
“Cellar temperature” (50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit) is ideal, but even if you don’t have a wine fridge that maintains this temperature, you can get away with keeping your bubbly in a dark closet or cabinet where it will be away from its two main nemeses: heat and light.
But don’t store your Champagne in the regular refrigerator; the vibrations from the motor and the frequent light will disturb the wine and may alter its taste.
What’s the proper temperature at which to serve sparkling wine?
Serve your sparkling wine at the same temperature you’d serve any crisp white wine—i.e. not freezing, but not far off. (An hour or two in the back of the fridge should bring your bubbly down to a delightful mid-40s.)
That said, there are sometimes certain elements of smell and taste that won’t express themselves until the sparkling wine begins to warm up a bit. “I like to drink Champagne ice-cold at the beginning, and prefer to leave it out of the ice bucket, on the table, to allow the wine to come back up to room temperature,” says Matthew Kaner, wine director and co-owner of Los Angeles’ Covell.
“In that manner, the bubbles dissipate and the wine opens up, gaining much more aromatic character. The last few sips are almost always divine.”
Why trust Liquor.com?
This roundup was edited by Jesse Porter, who’s worked as a sommelier for several excellent Champagne programs—and yet who finds it challenging to maintain a decent Champagne collection at home, as they tend to pair so nicely with pretty much any meal.
Vicki Denig is a wine and travel journalist based between New York and Paris. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators. Her work regularly appears on Wine-Searcher, VinePair, and more. Denig is also the Content Manager for Verve Wine, a bi-coastal retail operation (New York & San Francisco).
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