‘Tis the season for holiday parties and, subsequently, the last-minute realization that you forgot to get a gift for the host. In an effort to aid in the avoidance of being the umpteenth guest to show up with a stale panettone, here are ten of the best bottles of bubbly on the market. Give them, get them, and please, drink them with dinner — sparkling wines are the best no-brainer food wines, and they’ve been relegated to toast-only status for far too long.
Mata I Coloma Pere Mata “Cupada No. 13”
From: Catalunya, Spain
Take one man’s passion for his homeland, bottle it, add some bubbles and gulp with abandon. Pere Mata’s Twitter account states that he’s just one man “in love with Cava”, but to say he puts all other Cava producers to shame would be like saying Hemingway was pretty manly. Cupada No. 13 sets a new, fresh bar for the eponymous Spanish sparkler, and it’s about time — Cava might be one of the best value-driven options for bubbles, but we’re tired of it tasting that way, too.
Drink With: That New Year’s Eve kiss coming at you
Venturini-Baldini LambruscoFrom: Emilia Romagna, Italy
Forget about the Lambruscos of yore — cloying, bubbly red stuff your grandma guzzled at holiday parties. True Lambrusco, which has (thankfully) finally reached American shores, is brambly, rustic and the perfect answer to your pizza night pairing conundrum. Ditch that IPA and never look back.
Drink With: Pepperoni + mushroom, well-done, extra basil
Domaine de la Taille aux Loups “Triple Zero”
From: Montlouis-Sur-Loire, France
Imagine Kurt Vonnegut dressed as Mark Twain, drop him in the middle of the Loire Valley and give him a few Medieval-era walled vineyards to play with. Chances are, he’d be producing some of the world’s most interesting wines in no time. Uncanny, mustachioed resemblances aside, Jacky Blot’s “Triple Zero” is a breathtaking expression of Chenin blanc that’s completely unfettered (the name “Triple Zero” refers to the laissez-faire production methods Blot employs in the wine’s production). Soft mousse, ripe orchard fruit notes and minerality for days.
Drink With: The ripest Valençay Murray’s can muster + Breakfast of Champions
François Chidaine Montlouis Brut
From: Montlouis-Sur-Loire, France
Unlike the soft, nuanced sparkling Chenin produced by his neighbor Blot, Chidaine’s wine is an earthy, unctuous expression of the noble grape. Boasting deep, dense orchard fruit, honey and fresh-foraged mushroom notes, it’s the perfect wine for a mid-winter repast.
Drink With: Roast chicken + parsnips
Domaine de Montbourgeau Crémant du Jura
From: Jura, France
Long the ace up the sleeves of sommeliers the world over, Montbourgeau’s Crémant du Jura is your answer to the finest Blanc de Blancs Champagne when the budget’s less than luxury. It’s racy and focused — a more razor-sharp expression of chilly Alpine terroir has never existed.
Drink With: Fresh-shucked Island Creeks
Domaine Renardat-Fâche “Cerdon du Bugey”
From: Savoie, France
You can leave the Moscato for Drake — when sweet is what we’re after, we look to the Bugey region of Eastern France for unique sparkling rosés made the old-fashioned way via bottle fermentation. With its balance of ripe, wild strawberry notes and vibrant, juicy acidity, we won’t be surprised when Renardat-Fâche’s kiss-of-sweet sparkler makes it onto Kanye’s next album.
Drink With: Brunch — at 7.5% ABV, it’s OK to day drink this one
Caneva da Nani “Col Fondo”
From: Valdobbiadene, Veneto, Italy
Prosecco is a dubious arena in the world of wine — harried by pandemic pesticide use, sloppy harvests and bad post-fermentation tinkering. In this, the darkest corner of bubbles, Caneva da Nani’s natural Prosecco is a beacon of quaffable hope. Funky, rich and complex, it’s bottled “Col Fondo”, or with its fine lees, and local tradition dictates a toast with the kombucha-like stuff at the bottom of the bottle — it’s health-giving and good luck for the guest of honor.
Drink With: Crusty bread and a hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano
G.D. Vajra “N.S. della Neve”
From: Piedmont, Italy
From the seat of Barolo and Barbaresco — the King and Queen of Italian wine, respectively — comes what you can think of as the flirtatious handmaiden. Joyful, ripe and shamelessly delicious, it’s an unusual blend of Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir, but don’t let its affable, pretty-in-pink appearance fool you — this is serious wine with enough depth and structure to hold your palate’s attention down to the dregs.
Drink With: Winter truffle risotto
Jean-Pierre Robinot “Fêtembulles”
From: Jasnières, Loire Valley, France
Monsieur Robinot is a free spirit with a penchant for patchwork vests, pretty women and turning out funky, complex wines in the far-flung wilds of the Northern Loire Valley. If it’s meditative bubbles you’re after, look no further than this savory pet-nat — notes of Bergamot and thyme over a fine foundation of flinty minerality will keep your nose to the glass for hours.
Drink With: Ortolan, if Ducasse gets his way.
Peter Lauer Sekt Brut
From: Mosel, Germany
Repeat after us: Rieslings are not always sweet. The best are often more desirable when they’re not, as in the case of this remarkable wine from the young Peter Lauer; ripe lychee and white jasmine notes are lined up and whipped into shape by refined acidity and tight, crisp bubbles.
Drink With: Whatever you’re into. Safe word: Sekt