Like all wines, taste and price of prosecco varies. Canella makes a nice one, mellow and fruity, for about $15 a bottle. Carpene Malvolti produces a drier type that runs around $18 a bottle. Striking a nice balance between soft and dry, Mionettos Prosecco di Valdobbiadene ($14) is one by which others are measured (and measure themselves). I like Mionetto Organic Prosecco ($15) better yet. Curiously, one of the less expensive proseccos, by Lunetta, is among the nicest. And for about $12 a bottle, you could gargle with it every day.
Of course, you cant go wrong with the real stuff. Champagne, that is. Among the best is Gossett Grande Reserve MV, a regal and wonderfully delicate bubbly that elevate any event and everyones spirits ($65). Gossetts Brut Excellence is also wonderful (and easier on your wallet at $46 a bottle).
Hand your host a bottle of Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage 2000 ($65), and youve just guaranteed yourself two things: youll be adored by the recipient and envied by those who gave lesser bottles. Classic and complex, this is the real deal.
Also lovely is the Delamotte Brut NV ($50), which has a heady smell of fresh baked bread when you pop the cork. A warm and lovely bottle of bubbly.
Still, my new and possibly long-time favorite is Barnaut Grand Cru ($50), a bottle of which I recently bought at South Tampas CRU Cellars wine bar and shop. Its one beautiful, delicate, rosé.
Domestic sparklers are hardly second rate. Among the best is Schramsbergs Blanc de Noirs ($37). Amazingly smooth, with lots of depth and grace. And something about its faint rose color (from the skins of pinot noir grapes) makes it especially festive.
For those in search of something more unusual, Id go with a few bubblies from the boot. As in Italy. Murgo Brut ($40), a Sicilian obscurity, is one of those wines that reminds me how little I know about booze. I only recently ran into this wine, and its one of the most pleasant surprises Ive had all year. Dry, with hints of black cherry and a zesty hazelnut-like bitterness at the finish, and entirely refreshing. Fantastic.
Another nifty Italian is Fantinel Extra Dry, which I like lots better than most name proseccos at triple the cost. Very dry and wonderfully smooth and soft. And at $10 a pop, you can afford to include most everyone on your holiday gift list.
Now dont be fooled by the skanky label. Fantinel Rose is regal stuff. Dry ,dry, dry, with hints of rose petals. Wonderful. And at about ten bucks, a royal steal.
And there you have it, a list of fantastic sparkling wines for any budget. (Unless, of course, you're more of an Andre fan, then I'm sure your local Wal-Mart can hook you up.)
Image: Velo Steve via Flickr.