Buying Guide: Prosecco, Cava & Champagne for 2011

Kathleen Hall

Get your sparkle on! Now that the holiday season is in full swing, what better gift to bring to a party than a sparkling wine? Any occasion becomes a celebration when you open a bottle of bubbles! Not only that, sparkling wine is extremely food-versatile, pairing well with most hors d oeuvres, from foie gras to pigs in a blanket. And for those of us hoping not to overindulge this month, at only

95 calories per flute (compared to 250 calories in a Vodka Martini), sparkling wine allows you to have fun AND behave all at the same time! Here are three ideas I believe might ring your holiday bell:


Prosecco sparkling wines from Italy tend to have fruit flavors and large bubbles. On Prosecco labels, frizzante means the wine is lightly sparkling, whereas spumante means the wine is fully sparkling. If you re searching for a higher-quality Prosecco, look for bottles with the words Valdobbiadene or Conegliano, or the exceptional single-vineyard Cartizze designation. These are areas that have been elevated to a higher Prosecco classification due to their superior quality.

May I suggest:
Nino Franco Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Rustico NV
Available retail for $14.99 per bottle at:
Bottles of Westport, 1753 Post Road East, Westport CT


Cava sparkling wines from Spain tend to have more citrus and herbal flavors and medium-sized bubbles.
Like Champagne, Cava must go through secondary fermentation in the bottle and must be aged before release. Unlike Champagne, Cava may be purchased for a fraction of the price! For a more interesting Cava, look for bottles with the word Reserva on the label, which means the wine has been aged longer for added richness and complexity.

May I suggest:
Avinyo  Cava Reserva Brut NV
Available retail for $20 per bottle at:
Nicholas Roberts Fine Wines, 1053 Post Road, Darien CT


As per EU law, only sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France may be called Champagne the rest is just sparkling wine! Champagne is elegant and mineral with tiny, persistent bubbles. Champagne may be produced with three grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Which grapes used and in what percentage are up to each Champagne House to decide and help determine what the resulting wine will taste like. A Champagne with more Chardonnay in the blend tends to be lighter-bodied, crisp yet graceful, with citrus flavors. Champagne with more Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier in the blend tends to have more body, berry fruit flavors and more earthiness. For something a little different, consider purchasing a Grower Champagne over a Brand Name Champagne. These small Growers farm their own grapes, hand-craft and estate bottle their artisanal Champagne -- instead of purchasing grapes, as the vast majority of large Houses do.

May I suggest:
Pehu-Simonet Champagne Brut S lection Grand Cru NV
Available retail for $43.99 per bottle at:
Saugatuck Grain & Grape, 40 Railroad Place, Westport CT

Cheers! And Happy Holidays!