Perfect For: Brand-name loyalists
What You Should Know: Champagne is made primarily from a blend of three grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. The proportion of the blend dictates the flavor profile. Blanc de blanc styles are made from Chardonnay only and are elegant, clean, and focused; Blancs de Noirs are made from Pinot Noir only and have more lushness and body. However, most Champagnes are a blend.
Try These: Pol Roger, Deutz, Gosset, Vilmart et Cie
Perfect For: The deal-obsessed
What You Should Know: Winemakers who are using the same method used for making Champagne, but are outside of that region, can legally put Méthode Champenoise (you might also see Méthode Traditionelle) on their label. The process of making Champagne is complex and labor-intensive. To put it simply, all sparkling wines start out as still wines. To create bubbles, the wine must ferment for a second time in a pressurized vessel. That way, when carbon dioxide is emitted during that fermentation, it has nowhere to go, dissolves into the wine, and, voilà, becomes as sparkly as an engagement ring. In Champagne, this second fermentation happens right in the bottle, but the region doesn’t have exclusive rights to this production method. With Méthode Champenoise, you’re getting all the quality without the “prestige surcharge.”
Try These: Schramsberg, Roederer Estate, Gruet
Perfect For: Experience seekers
What You Should Know: Cava is essentially Spain’s answer to Champagne—it’s made the same way but with different grapes (Xarel·lo, Parellada, and Macabeo). Flavor-wise, it’s usually a bit less elegant but a little more fun, lively, and exuberant.
Try These: Gramona Gran Cuvee, Castellroig Brut, German Gilabert
Perfect For: Frugal partyers
What You Should Know: Prosecco, from the Veneto region of Italy, is your true budget alternative—especially if you’re going for quantity. Prosecco is an affordable option in large part due to the production method (called the Charmat method). Instead of the second fermentation happening in the bottle—which is incredibly labor-intensive, specialized, and expensive—the second fermentation happens in a big tank. So, while the process is a bit less artisanal, the flavor is still festive, light, fruity, and effervescent.
Try These: Il Fortunato, Nino Franco Rustico, Mia
Perfect For: Vintage romantics
What You Should Know: Maybe it’s an unconventional choice, but there’s something so soft and pretty about a sparkling rosé. Think about aromatic red fruit and rose petals in a glass. With its lovely color, rosé is a perfect choice for a summer vintage-themed soirée or even a garden-themed bridal shower. Champagne, Méthode Champenoise, and Cava can all be found in rosé versions, so there’s a good option at every price point.
Try These: Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé, Llopart Rosé Brut Reserva Cava, Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne