I have friends who fall all along the Champagne continuum in their tastes, from bone-dry "extra-brut" to sweet-tooth bottles just one step shy of soda pop. Each one of them, though, likes a fine sparkling value. So here are three available in Pennsylvania covering the full range to ring in the holidays at less than $20 a bottle.
For dry-wine lovers, turn to Portugal for this unusual sparkler from Vidigal, near Lisbon. Made from the arinto grape, a high-acidity white used in vinho verde, it rings with acidity and minerality on mid-sized bubbles, and is best suited to those who appreciate a more austere Euro approach.
The 2002 Royal Cuvée from Sonoma's Gloria Ferrer is the most versatile crowd-pleaser of the lot, with an ideal balance of toastiness and juicy clementine layered with pepper and anise on a nice dry finish.
The Brilliant Disguise moscato from Australia's Two Hands, meanwhile, might as well just be saved for dessert (or a happy nightcap.) Its bubbles are fine and soft, and the flavor is floral, honeyed, and lusciously exotic. A perfect first sip for a sweet New Year.
- Craig LaBan