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Toast the 2013 New Year with a Bottle of Champagne

Choosing the appropriate sparkling wine for New Year's Eve can make you dizzy before the first sip. Here's a handy guide to the intoxicating world of bubbles on a budget.

Toast the 2013 New Year with a Bottle of Champagne

The pop of the Champagne cork is as much a part of the New Year’s Eve soundtrack as "Auld Lang Syne" and fireworks. The tiny, tickling bubbles evoke celebratory moods.

With so many sparkling wines to choose from, picking the best bottle can be daunting. Prices for sparkling wine range from less than $10 to more than $500 per bottle. Keep in mind that while you usually get what you pay for, there are some great options for those of us on a budget. 

Large “negociant” champagne houses that purchase much of their fruit, such as Veuve Clicquot, Bollinger, Roederer, Taittinger, Perrier Jouet and Nicolas Feuillatte, dominate the market. However, in the last decade or so, Champagne from small growers has gained some traction with Champagne enthusiasts.

Check out The Wine Room, located on Route 33 in Manalapan, where you can make your own special bottle or head to Wemrock Orchards, located on Business Route 33 in Freehold, to pick up one of their locally made bottles of bubbly.

Only sparkling wine from the French region of Champagne can be labeled Champagne. But that doesn’t mean that quality sparkling wine can’t be produced in other parts of France and around the world.

Cremant from Burgundy, Limoux or the Loire Valley, Prosecco from Italy, Cava from Spain, and sparkling wine from Argentina and the U.S. West Coast deliver quality, value-driven sparklers.

Prosecco is chiefly grown in Italy’s Veneto region. It is vinified like Champagne. Unlike Champagne, Prosecco can deliver quality under $20. 

For luxurious vintage Prosecco, the 2009 Bisol Cartizze is an elegant, floral sparkler with layers of citrus fruit, citrus rind, stone fruits and lithe minerality. 

In its native Spain, Cava is the drink of choice on Christmas Eve. It is so value-driven that you can buy enough Cava for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. 

In the end, if you are looking to celebrate the New Year in style, Salon is, shall we say, the Champagne of Champagnes. Or, for a kid-friendly New Year's, try sparkling apple cider. 

If you are looking for delicious options on a budget, try one of these five champagnes for less than $20:

1. François Labet ($17) Burgandy, France

2. Boeckel ($16) France

3. Codorníu Cuvée Raventos ($14) Spain

4. Martini and Rossi ($12) Italy

5. Kupferberg Gold ($9) Germany

All of these varieties can be found at Vingo Wines of Manalapan, Yorktowne Inn and Liquors, Gordon's Corner Spirits, Cambridge Liquors and Wine Shop, Englishtown Liquor and Convenience, Wegmans, and Spirits Unlimited.

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