Chow Town

A guide to sparkling wines made for the holidays, from Prosecco to Champagne

A recommendation of sparkling wines from Dave Eckert for your holiday feast.
A recommendation of sparkling wines from Dave Eckert for your holiday feast.

There are few categories of wine I enjoy more than sparklers.

Sparkling wine — from a classic Champagne to a softer, simpler Prosecco — are some of my absolute favorite wines on the planet. And I truly believe there haven’t been better, broader and more fairly priced sparkling wine selections than now.

With the holiday season in full swing, I thought I’d recommend some sparklers for your holiday gathering. These are some of the ones currently occupying space in my cellar (but not for long!).

Let’s start with Prosecco, one of the fastest-growing categories of sparkling wine. There’s good reason for Prosecco’s popularity. They are widely available, reasonably priced and easily quaffable. Do yourself a favor, dig a little deeper into the Prosecco selection this holiday season and try something different. Here are three recommendations.

Vino dei Fratelli, $12.99: This wine packs plenty of punch for the price. Starting with tons of ripe fruit on the nose and in the palate, the Fratelli Prosecco finishes with lovely minerality and great acidity. This is one to buy by the case.

Ruggeri, $18.99: Stepping up in both complexity and price, the Ruggeri offers a more Champagne-like experience at a fraction of the cost. Both drier and more layered than the Fratelli, Ruggeri produces a serious Prosecco that is still a pleasure to drink.

Mionetto, $13.99: Somewhere in between the Fratelli and Ruggeri you’ll find Mionetto, one of the most respected Prosecco producers. Established over 130 years ago, Mionetto turns out classic Prosecco, loaded with enticing flavors and aromas, framed with great acidity, and balanced by a harmonious combination of fruit and minerality. Mionetto has been my “go-to” Prosecco for years!

As mentioned earlier, there are great sparkling wines being produced the world over. Here are a few that stand out for me.

Ferrari Perle Rosé, $29.99: One of the highest scoring wines from the Trentino region of Italy, this is a classically made rosé that features a selection of estate Chardonnay and pinot noir grapes. Elegant and sophisticated, Ferrari’s Perle rosé offers flavors and aromas of cherries and strawberries and a long, slightly yeasty finish.

Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rosé, $13.99: From the Stellenbosch region of South Africa, this lovely sparkler is a mouthful to say, but easy to drink. Lighter in style than the Ferrari Perle, the Kaapse Vonkel has more floral notes on the nose and in the palate. It’s a deft and delicate wine with a fine mousse and great balance. My first South African sparkler wine, and I hope it will not be my last.

Gustave Lorentz Cremant d’Alsace, $26.99: Made in the traditional style, Gustave Lorentz produces a beautifully balanced sparkling wine with gobs of layered fruit and a very long finish. Another wine leaning more toward Champagne, the Gustave Lorentz Cremant d’Alsace is a complex wine.

J Brut, $35.99: Founded by Judy Jordan of the famous Cabernet Sauvignon-producing Jordan family of Sonoma County, J Vineyards and Winery specializes in sparkling wine. In fact, J’s brut and rosé are among my favorite domestic sparklers. On the lean and tart side, the J Brut leads with citrus aromas and finishes with a lemon curd experience on the palate. Exquisitely balanced and packed with bracing acidity, the J Brut is great on its own, but really shines with cuisine. It would, for example, provide the perfect counterbalance to a triple cream brie.

Finally, let me give some love to the birthplace of sparkling wine: the one and only Champagne. Here are two I had recently that I really enjoyed.

Delamonte Brut, $39.99: I call the Delamonte Brut a “gateway” Champagne — a great sparkler that’s also a terrific introduction to the wonders of Champagne. The Delamonte is full-bodied but very well-balanced; dry, but not overly so; and fruity, yet with a lovely hint of minerality. I predict even non-Champagne drinkers will enjoy this bubbly.

Piper Heidsieck Brut, $54.99: And finally, something on the pricier side. From a classic Champagne House, the Piper Heidsieck Cuvee Brut is everything I want in a Champagne. Leaning heavier on pinot noir grapes, this is a fuller-bodied brut that incorporates more than 100 crus (vineyards) from throughout the Champagne region. Made for the dinner table, this is a big, bold Champagne meant to be sipped and savored.

Cheers and happy holidays!

Dave Eckert is a longtime Kansas City food and beverage journalist. He was the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS and AWE for 12 seasons.