The Broke-Ass Guide to Buying Champagne

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Even if you don’t feel fancy enough to drink Champagne the rest of the year, something about the holiday season makes bubbles always seem appropriate. Unfortunately, after so many terrible New Year’s toasts with bargain sparkling wine, most people think that they have to sip Dom Perignon to have a good experience with Champagne.

Fortunately, that isn’t entirely true. You can spend as much as you want on Champagne, but you don’t have to blow your entire budget on a single bottle to kiss the year goodbye. Unfortunately, most of these bottles aren’t technically Champagnes, but are equally delicious in their own right. The French may lay claim to the name, but they’re not the only ones who are good at making sparkling wine.

Whether you prefer sweet or dry, this list of 10 budget-friendly sparkling wines will keep you from yet another year of sipping terrible bubbly at holiday parties.

LaMarca Prosecco
$15
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The method of producing Italian prosecco makes it less expensive than French Champagne, but that doesn’t mean that LaMarca Prosecco is “cheap champagne” in any sense. The delicate apple and honeysuckle flavors of this $15 bottle are prominent, and it’s accessible enough for someone who doesn’t really like sparkling wine to enjoy during a toast. Prosecco is notably sweeter than many Champagnes, but LaMarca is easy to pair with appetizers and desserts.

Roederer Estate Brut
$24
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Roederer Estate has been making wine in California for 200 years, and its wines are as easy on the palate as they are the wallet. There are pricier bottles of Roederer, but the multi-vintage brut is perfectly suitable for holiday dinner parties. This wine is crisp without causing too much pucker, and features a complex slate of flavors, including a little touch of holiday spice and hazelnut. Serve with your leftover Christmas cookies for an interesting contrast.

Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne “Perle d’Aurore”
$15
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This Cremant de Bourgogne is made in Champagne’s neighboring state Burgundy, also obviously well-known for their winemaking prowess. The rose coloring, known as “eye of the swan,” comes from a touch of Burgundy pinot noir that is added to the wine just before bottling. Cremants are generally considered to be the more upscale, better-quality of the French sparkling wines that are not made in Champagne, and this bottle is proof. One has to wonder why the winemakers in Burgundy let their neighbors take all the credit.

Gruet Extra Dry
$15
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You don’t typically think of New Mexico as an excellent wine-making region, but it’s been bottled there for over 400 years. Gruet has only been around since 1987, but in that time, these talented winemakers have been able to produce some of the best affordable American sparkling wines around. Fans of dry Champagne will really appreciate the Gruet Extra-Dry, which beautifully balances notes of sweet peach puree and tangy lime.

Domaine Chandon Blanc de Noirs
$22
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At just $22, this bottle is a steal that will impress even the pickiest guests. California’s Domaine Chandon is known for producing reliably solid sparkling wines, many of which are rated 90 points or higher by major wine reviewing publications. This blanc de noirs is impossibly creamy and sweet, but doesn’t overwhelm the palate like other fruit-forward sparkling wines.

Piper-Heidsieck Brut
$35
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If you’re having trouble buying a sparkling wine that isn’t Champagne, the Piper-Heidsieck Brut is an excellent choice. At $35, it is the most expensive wine on this list, but still just over half the price of a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. If you’re serving a more upscale holiday meal, this bottle will pair perfectly with fancy hors d’oeuvres. Don’t waste this bubbly in Mimosas or Bellinis, either—enjoy the airy fruit flavors and classic bite in their own right.

Segura Viudas Cava
$10
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Like Champagne, the Spanish government has requirements for calling a sparkling wine cava. Spanish cava is an excellent entree into the world of sparkling wines, especially the Segura Viudas. This cava is widely available at grocery stores and wine shops, making it perfect for last-minute booze runs, and at $10, you won’t worry too much about your relatives bringing all those extra guests for dinner.

Mumm Napa Brut Prestige
$18
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Some champagnes are overly complex, which is great for a tasting but not so good for a party of people with differing tastes. The Mumm Napa Brut Prestige is a holiday crowd-pleaser, with balanced flavors of apple and vanilla that pair well with dessert. If you’re in need of a hostess gift, this bottle will impress anyone—even your boyfriend’s mom, who isn’t sure yet whether or not she likes you.

Sofia Blanc de Blancs
$17
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It’s sparkling wine in a can, so it’s probably not going to win any major tasting awards. Still, Sofia Blanc de Blancs is an excellent value for the holidays. If you’re flying across the country, stow one of the four-packs in your checked luggage to ensure that you have wine before the relatives start to arrive. Should you find yourself stranded and in need of something to bring to holiday dinner, these cute little cans will distract everyone from the fact that you’ve got another tattoo.

Allure Bubbly Pink Moscato
$11
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Pink moscato is generally associated with cheap-tasting wine, but the Allure Bubbly Pink Moscato is only skimpy on the price. The sweet, peachy flavor is perfect for a sparkling holiday punch, and at $11, you won’t be too upset when your drunk aunt downs the whole bottle before dinner is even on the table.

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