While we’re fans of sparkling wine any time of year, there’s no question that the holiday season is the time to break out the bubbly. From spirited cocktail parties to elaborate dinners with family and friends, the holiday season is all about special occasions, and we love to celebrate with bubbles in hand. And who can blame us? There’s just something festive about sparkling wine, not to mention that it’s a great choice for pairing with all your favorite holiday foods.
To help you head into the holiday season like a pro, we’re sharing our top sparkling wine picks, organized by holiday for easy reference. Need a refresher before your jump in? We’ve included a brief guide to Boost Your Sparkling Wine IQ at the end of this article.
Thanksgiving tends to be a problematic holiday for finding the perfect wine pairing, and for good reason. Between the turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce, there’s a lot going on flavor-wise. Luckily, when it comes to bubbles, you can’t go wrong. Lambrusco is a fun choice, while Brut rosé is another versatile option to balance the flavors of the meal. Wines to try:
This popular sparkling wine from Healdsburg, Sonoma is made of mostly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with just a touch of Pinot Meunier. Showcasing luscious notes of strawberries, cream and toasted hazelnuts, its lively yet decadent texture will surely leave a lasting impression.
Fresh with bright red fruit aromas, this intensely-colored and lightly fizzy wine is rounded out by flavors of black cherry and a dry, lingering finish.
Traditionally, Thanksgiving is all about the turkey and Christmas is for ham. But throw bold flavors like gingerbread into the mix and what’s a food and wine lover to do? We like to reach for Champagne or Franciacorta, which pair well with creamy dishes like scalloped potatoes as well as salty foods like ham. Another great wine choice is Cava, with its notes of ginger and baking spices. Wines to try:
Named for the year the Maiolini family’s sons relaunched the winery, this Italian wine showcases notes of yeast and vanilla with a dry and persistent mouthfeel. Made of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir, this Champagne alternative displays lovely personality and energy.
Aged on the lees for 30 months, this rather affordable bottle is made up of all three traditional grapes, but predominantly Pinot Meunier—some of which comes from vines over 50 years old! Notes of white flowers and pear dominate the nose, leading to a crisp and mineral-driven finish.
With eight nights of festivities, of course Hanukkah comes with lots and lots of food. Traditional items include fried foods like potato latkes and doughnuts, and a bottle of American sparkling wine is the perfect choice to cut through some of that salt and fat. Wines to try:
This Napa Valley wine is loaded with vibrant apple and citrus flavors, complemented by complex notes of spice, vanilla and toasty oak. Balanced by fine acidity and nice structure, it’s a versatile bottle that delivers for the price.
This California sparkling wine, made in the Méthode Traditionelle, is a blend of equal parts Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, grown in the cool coastal site of Santa Barbara County’s famed Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Lively and pure, it has a rich mouthfeel with fine, persistent bubbles.
New Year’s Eve is all about the cocktail parties. Luckily, sparkling wine goes with everything from caviar and oysters to potato chips and charcuterie. Look for something light and affordable, like Prosecco, which you can also use in brunch mimosas the next day. Wine to try:
Grown in the Veneto region of Italy, this Prosecco is the ultimate aperitif wine, displaying delicate citrus and sweet fruit notes with a youthful, fizzy edge.
Champagne is the northernmost wine region in all of France, where a long, cool growing season allows the grapes to ripen while retaining high levels of acidity. While Champagne is the most famous area for sparkling wine—and the only place in the world that can legally label it as ‘Champagne,’ for that matter—there are plenty of other wine regions producing high quality, delectable bubbly. Some are even made in the same classic method as Champagne, known as Méthode Traditionelle or Méthode Champenoise.
The three main grapes in Champagne are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier, but it’s common to find sparkling wine made from different grapes. From Chenin Blanc to Shiraz, there’s a multitude of grapes being used. In fact, almost every wine producing country in the world makes a sparkling wine of some sort! Sparkling wine, which is categorized by sweetness from Extra Brut (very dry and crisp) to Brut (dry) to Extra Dry (slightly sweet) and Demi-Sec (very sweet), truly offers something for every taste and budget.
In France, sparkling wine is referred to as Crémant outside of Champagne. Crémant d’Alsace Rosé, for example, is a fruit-driven wine made of Pinot Noir from Alsace, while a bottle of Crémant de Bourgogne hails from Burgundy’s Côte Chalonnaise.
Prosecco, an Italian regional sparkling wine made from the Glera grape, is traditionally light and fruity with a hint of sweetness. Though it doesn’t quite have the complexity of other sparklers, that doesn’t mean it’s simple or boring. Prosecco labelled as a DOCG wine offers the best value in terms of quality—just know that Brut versions will be drier than the common Extra Dry style.
Hailing from the Lombardy region of Italy, Franciacorta is slightly under the radar. These wines tend to be riper and less acidic than the cooler region of Champagne, but share that same rich, full-bodied texture.
Another Italian sparkling wine is Lambrusco, which originates from Northern Italy. Ranging in style from semi-sparkling dry (secco) to barely sweet (semisecco), Lambrusco tends to have red and black fruit, firm acidity and moderate tannins, making it a versatile food wine.
Cava, on the other hand, reigns from Spain, where it’s made from traditional Spanish grapes such as Xarello, Macabeo and Parellada. Made in the Méthode Traditionelle, Cava can be very similar in flavor to Champagne, but at a fraction of the cost. Expect a dry and lively wine with lots of effervescence.
American sparkling wine has never been better, which is why it’s easy to stock up for the holidays without having to shell out for the often hefty price tag of Champagne. Generally speaking, sparkling wine from California, Oregon, etc. is fruitier than its Old World counterparts, but can range in style from light and refreshing to bold and exotic.
Of course, there are plenty of other sparkling wines from around the world, like German Sekt, Moscato d’Asti and the latest craze, Pétillant Naturel (Pét-Nat, for short), but we don’t want to overwhelm you. Instead, just enjoy our sparkling wine picks for the holidays.
We love sparkling wine for the holidays—it’s festive, versatile and can liven up any occasion. But if we really want to get into the spirit, there’s nothing more fun and impressive than popping open magnums of Champagne. After all, ‘tis the season!