Get That Champagne Feeling on a Sparkling Wine Budget

The holidays require sparkling wine, there’s no getting around that. But does it need to be Champagne?

That’s a particularly good question this year, as Champagne is more expensive than ever. You may be able to find a bottle for under $40 somewhere, but decent bottles now begin around $45, and very good nonvintage bottles from producers like Pierre Péters or Louis Roederer are $70 to $75.

These price increases have occurred for reasons that have affected businesses around the world. Rising interest rates along with pandemic supply-chain disruptions have raised prices of raw materials like grapes, bottles and corks. Labor costs have also gone up.

Champagne is not the only wine region with rising prices. Almost all wines cost more than they did last year, not to mention five years ago. It’s just that, among sparkling wines, Champagne started at a higher price. The increases may be similar in percentage terms to other sparkling wines, but it feels worse. Will prices ever come down? I’m not holding my breath.

Fortunately, great sparkling wines are now made everywhere that makes wine. This year I decided to seek out distinctive sparkling wines that providedsatisfying alternatives to Champagne. I found 12 that were exceptional, at different price levels, in New York retail shops.

Notice I called them alternatives, not replacements. No other sparkling wine tastes just like a good Champagne, which is the product of its place and culture. But other regions make sparkling wine that can be just as distinctive in myriad ways.

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