The IRL Guide to Bargain-Priced Champagnes and Bubblies
Categories: Cocktails

The IRL Guide to Bargain-Priced Champagnes and Bubblies

The holidays are almost here, and soon you’ll be doing that thing you always do — searching high and low for an *affordable* bubbly. Despite Champagne shortage rumors, you’ll still encounter a staggering array of choices at equally staggering prices. Finding the right bottle for you depends on your palate, your pocketbook and your plans for it. Will you be drinking and clinking, mixing Champagne cocktails or pouring it down a Champagne tower? Whether you want to spring for a true French vintage or nab a budget-friendly sparkling white like a prosecco or Cava — produced using the Champagne method but without the price tag — we’ve got your back. Here are a dozen bubblies to power up your next special occasion toast.

French Champagne

1. Champagne Ernest Rapeneau ($11): Quite possibly the least costly French Champagne available, this bubbly available at Trader Joe’s hails from the Champagne region of France and is great value for the money. Vibrant, crisp and effervescent, with notes of apricot and honey but with a slightly bitter acidic finish, it’s perfect for cocktails.

2. Charles de Marques Champagne, ($19): Also a TJ’s bargain, this Champagne is light, dry and *very* smooth without the sugary overload common in some sparkling whites. It’s a true go-to Champagne that won’t break the budget.

3. Kirkland Champagne Brut ($20): Kirkland is the Costco brand of budget Champagnes. This bubbly has refreshing green apple notes and is a bit sweeter than most brut Champagnes, making it perfect for clinking and drinking.

4. Veuve Clicquot ($50): Because there’s a wine snob in every crowd — maybe it’s even you — here’s a primo bottle worth springing for when there’s a palate in the house that you want to impress. Veuve Clicquot is a quality French brut Champagne recognized globally and widely stocked by wine merchants everywhere.

5. Thomson & Scott Skinny Champagne ($62): Here’s one’s for the clean eaters in the crowd! Even folks who rarely drink will appreciate a glass of bubbly at holiday time. Skinny has all the taste of a lovely brut Champagne, with only seven grams of sugar per glass.

6. Blason de Bourgogne Crémant ($10): Though not officially labeled a *Champagne,* this wine produced in the Burgundy region of France is made using the Champagne method. It has all the nice minerality and tight, pretty bubbles you crave, without the champers price tag.

7. Trader Joe’s Blanc de Blancs ($6): Another Champagne-like sparkling white produced in France, this is Trader Joe’s signature bubbly. Dry, crisp and citrusy, it makes a perfect Champagne substitute, whether you’re drinking it straight up or spiking cocktails.

Italian Prosecco

8. Cecilia Beretta Prosecco Superiore ($10): Prosecco is an Italian dry white sparkling wine that’s bubbly like Champagne, and superiore is the highest classification. This sparkling white makes a great pre-dinner drink or a cork popper for a special occasion — but at this price, you could drink it every night.

9. Cecilia Beretta Prosecco ($8): Slightly sweeter than the superiore version of the same label, this sparkler is distinctly fruity. It would be great in a cocktail or cascading down a festive holiday Champagne tower.

Spanish Cava

10. Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava ($9): Cava is a sparkling white that’s produced in Spain using the same method as Champagne, so you can find it at sometimes bargain prices. This bubbly is bright with fruit flavors that make it great for cocktails like mimosas or bellinis, but it’s also quite the treat on its own.

11. Cristalino Cava Brut ($11): This Cava has nice crisp minerality and a price tag you’ve got to love. It’s great for celebrating special occasions, but at this price, you could have it on *pizza* night.

California Champagne

12. Korbel Brut California Champagne ($12): Though not produced in the Champagne region of France, this wine won the right to be labeled a “California Champagne.” Produced using méthode champenoise, it’s a great value, with nice notes of apricot and apple that are balanced by bubbly acidity.

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