A sparkling beginning to the New Year — on a budget

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You don’t have to spend a lot of money on Champagne to toast the New Year.

 

Only 10 percent of the world’s sparkling wine is actually Champagne because it comes from that particular winemaking region in France, according to George Staikos, a certified sommelier.

“The misconception I think a lot of us have: If it’s sparkling, it’s Champagne,” said Staikos, who teaches a wine class at Fairleigh Dickinson University and hosts The Educated Grape website. “It’s this term that we use, but it’s a small amount and a high-end product.”

A bottle of the best-known Champagne, Dom Pérignon, will cost you $150 or more, but Staikos said  plenty of less expensive sparkling wines are available.

“Cava from Spain makes lovely sparking wines in that $10 to $20 price range. Prosecco, which is a beautiful sparking wine from northern Italy, again in that same price range,” he said. “Sparkling wines from New York and California and Australia are in sort of that range, creeping up into the $20s.”

Other wines can provide a more colorful toast

“Getting more and more popular and available is rosé, which is sparking wine made from red grapes where you have a little skin contact,” he said. “It’s delicious, and, in the realm of festive, it looks beautiful in the glass.”

Competition among sparking wine producers is helping to make the price of a bottle affordable, Staikos said.

“It hasn’t really dropped. It’s, for the most, part stable — especially as some of these sparkling wine producers are active in the marketplace, there’s not an aggressive price increase happening,” he said.

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