Le Berceau Blanquette de Limoux NV, $13.99: The legend is that the Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon, in the 17th century, cried "Come quickly, I am tasting stars," upon sampling the first sparkling wine. Good story. But the gentle people of Limoux, in southwestern France, will tell you that the first sparkling wines were actually invented there, a century earlier, made with the obscure Mauzac grape. In any case, look for "Blanquette de Limoux" on the label for great value. This one, by Domaine de Martinolles, is incredibly stylish, light and crisp with persistent bubbles. An unbelievable value.
Château Moncontour Touraine Tête de Cuvée NV, $14.99: Though less known than Champagne, France's Loire Valley is also a reliable source of quality bubbly. This one, made from 100 percent Chenin Blanc grapes, is earthy and floral with a crisp, dry finish.
Avinyó Cava Brut NV, $15.99: Cava is produced in a large region in Catalonia, Spain, and you may already know the ubiquitous Freixenet and Codorniu, two of the biggest producers. Since there's so much bulk, cava can therefore be all over the map in terms of quality. But there are plenty of gems from smaller producers, well below $20 a bottle, like this compelling wine, produced by J. Esteve Nadal.
Michael Sarrazin Crémant de Blanc NV, $19.99: French wines designated "Crémant" (such as this one from Burgundy) are produced by the same method used in Champagne, and there are many excellent values to be found. This one is bright and rich, with a clean finish.
Bisol Crede Brut Prosecco di Valdobbiadene 2009, $21.99: Sure, there are much cheaper Italian sparklers, but this, if there is such a thing, is a special-occasion prosecco. Look for the designation "Valdobbiadene," which is considered to be the finest area for prosecco. This is fresh and crisp, with apple and pear flavors, and not cloying like a lot of inferior prosecco.
Roederer Estate Anderson Valley NV, $22.99: This has always been a benchmark for California sparkling wine. Grown in the cooler, northern climes of the Anderson Valley, this wine is subtle and elegant. Blind-taste this against Vueve Cliquot and just see if it doesn't stand up.