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Guide to Sparkling Wine, Just in Time for New Year’s Eve

Ring in the New Year right with a glass of something bubbly. Here’s a quick rundown of your sparkling options:

Let’s start with the big guns. Champagne is sparkling wine made from the Champagne region of France. There are basically two kinds of Champagne – there’s champagne made by bigger producers who buy grapes from other people (the famous brands that get name-dropped in song lyrics all fall into this category) and champagne made by the same people who grow the grapes (called grower Champagne). The pros of big-house Champagne are that it’s easier to find and super-consistent – every bottle of a given brand tastes the same, by design. Grower Champagne, meanwhile, is a favorite of wine lovers, since there’s more potential for interesting flavors in any given bottle – it’s usually less expensive than big-brand, too. If you have an awesome wine store nearby, start there, but if you’re on your own, the letters RM on the front of the label are a tip-off that you’re looking at a grower’s bottle (it stands for Récoltant-Manipulant, which means grower-producer).

If you’d like to stick a little closer to home, American sparkling wine (often made with the same grapes and the same wine-making methods as Champagne) is usually a little fruitier and less minerally than Champagne, and a bit more affordable.

Even more affordable are other sparkling wine options from Europe, like Cava (from Spain), Cremant (from the rest of France), Prosecco (from Italy), and Sekt (from Germany and Austria). Cava and Cremant are made similarly to Champagne (but with different grapes), and share a lot of its toasty/yeasty/appley notes. Prosecco is a little more acidic, and great with snacks and appetizers. Sekt is often sweeter, and a good choice for after-dinner.

If you’re can’t bear to drink anything but red wine, Italian Lambrusco or Australian sparkling Shiraz was made with you in mind. Fruit-forward reds packed with bubbles – what’s not to love?

Oh, and by the way – popping bottles, such as it were, is for amateurs. Either twist off the cork gently, trying to minimize the pop, or go big, and use a sword.

Looking for a great wine to get started? Meet entwine, Food Network’s line of wines that are perfect on their own or paired with food.

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