Serve bubbly, but skip the overpriced Champagne.
Paul Einbund, Sommelier at San Francisco's new rare-wine and spirits-focused restaurant The Morris says there is absolutely no reason to pony up for real-deal Champagne. "Unless you've got a huge budget, there aren't any real affordable champagnes, and the ones you can afford, you probably don't want to drink," he says. So hit up your local wine retailer and hunt down sparkling wines from these regions:
Cava: "This is your most well known Champagne alternative. It's a large region in Spain, with tons of producers. So the quality definitely varies. I'm in love with a producer named Pere Mata. They're taking their time, and paying attention to what they're doing, and the result is really nuanced, and a better value than any Champagne you can get."
Sekt: "A region in Germany that's lesser known, so you get a lot of bang for your buck. My favorite is when they use the riesling grape, which, unlike what you might think, isn't always sweet. I love extra brut. It can be laser-focused, with a lush tropical flavor even when it's bone dry, that's compatible with a lot of holiday foods."
Crémant du Jura: "This is kind of the hipster appellation of the moment, a small region in the French Alps. The sparkling wines from their chardonnays tend to be similar to Champagne. There's an amazing complexity of soil and climate. Look for a richer, toasty wine with smokier nuance. My favorites come from Stephane Tissot."
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