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Twentysomething Sparklers Under $20 (And Seven Sparklers To Never Buy)

A common question I field a lot: “What’s a good bottle of sparkling wine that isn’t expensive?” Well, sit down, friend. I have a lot of options for you.

While rosé, canned or not, is having a moment, I have a feeling the original limp wristed drink of choice is going to be making a comeback. These sparkling drinks are never not sophisticated and always add a little pep to a party. So why not consider bringing a bit of bubbly with you to your next function? It’s an easy way to impress and, clearly, you can do this on the way cheap.

Here’s the thing, though: not all cheap wines are equal. Some are great and some are just so god awful that you will beyond embarrass yourself in mixed company. Please, don’t be that person. I’ll dive into this at the end but the below list are twentysomething sparklers under $20, ranging from the very common (found at Ralphs / Kroeger, Publix, Vons / Pavillions / Safeway, etc.) to the higher end (found at Whole Foods or The Fresh Market or Bristol Farms) to the more obscure (found at specialty wine retailers from niche grocers to BevMo). Keep these in mind on idle Sunday afternoons and for dinner parties. Enjoy!

Spanish

Freixenet Cordon Negro Extra Dry
PRICE: $10
AVAILABILITY: Everywhere.
NOTES: A classic, crips cava. The definition of the Spanish sparkler. An important note:  everything this brand makes is serviceable—except the Sweet Cuvée. The bottles look extremely similar so beware.

Bodegas Navernan Brut Nature
PRICE: $17
AVAILABILITY: Whole Foods
NOTES: A bright, cheery bubbly with a cute lady on the cover.

Juve Y Camps Rose Brut Cava
PRICE: $17
AVAILABILITY: Specialty Wine Retailers
NOTES: Perhaps the earthiest on the list, this one is as intriguing as it might be divisive—in the best way possible.

Codorniu Anna de Codorniu Cava Brut
PRICE: $14
AVAILABILITY: Common (Kroeger / Ralphs)
NOTES: A “fancier” cava that is essentially elevated Frixenet.

Jaume Serra Cristalino
PRICE: $9
AVAILABILITY: Fairly Common
NOTES: The best cava steal, this is a light apple crisper.

French

De Chanceny Cremant de Loire Rosé
PRICE: $13
AVAILABILITY: Whole Foods or France
NOTES: A wine that was extremely rare last year, this bottle was recently acquired by Whole Foods and, honestly, it’s the best on the list. It balances an herbalness with strawberry. This is instant glee.

Pol Clement Rosé Sec
PRICE: $10
AVAILABILITY: Specialty Wine Retailers & Small Batch Grocers
NOTES: Easygoing rosé with bubbles. Very even keeled.

Le Petit Saint Vincent “Cab à Bulles” Sparkling Rosé
PRICE: $20
AVAILABILITY: Limited / Extreme Specialty Wine Stores
NOTES: Like the De Chanceny, this is a fascinating rosé that is heavy on herbalness. This is the most lovely on the list but, obviously, the most rare. Wouldn’t be surprised if the price starts to go up on this one because it’s so limited.

Château de la Liquière Sparkling Rosé
PRICE: $17
AVAILABILITY: Specialty Wine Retailers
NOTES: Another odd rosé, this one might be a bit more divisive. Great packaging, too.

Charles de Fere Cuvee Jean-Louis Blanc de Blancs Brut
PRICE: $10
AVAILABILITY: Whole Foods
NOTES: An apple lemon treat that is somewhat discrete.

Gerard Bertrand Cuvee Thomas Jefferson Cremant de Limoux Brut Rosé 2013
PRICE: $18
AVAILABILITY: Wine Retailers & Small Batch Grocers
NOTES: Fruity yet mineral forward rosé with an American president on the bottle. Drinking too much of this brings out the acidity: beware.

Italian

Secco Bubbles Brut
PRICE: $11
AVAILABILITY: Wine Warehouses
NOTES: A very even keeled bubbler with the best packaging of the bunch. Their rosé is a standout, too.

Mionetto Prosecco Brut
PRICE: $13
AVAILABILITY: Common (Kroger / Ralphs)
NOTES: This is a very well balanced, dry bubbler. It’s quite versatile too, enabling it to be enjoyed as a late night treat or something to sip on a warm afternoon.

La Marca Prosecco
PRICE: $12
AVAILABILITY: Common (Kroger / Ralphs)
NOTES: Despite common packaging, this is a creamy mixture of apple and citrus. Good for long term drinking, too.

United States

Michelle Sparkling Brut Rosé
PRICE: $11
AVAILABILITY: Fairly Common
NOTES: Perhaps my favorite domestic sparkling rosé, this reminds of the herbal French bubblers but is on the more subtle end. Nice and dry, too.

WKND Sparkling Wine
PRICE: $18
AVAILABILITY: Online & Whole Foods
NOTES: A very nectar friendly dry wine that is one of the sweeter offerings on the list. Is that bad? No. Sweet that gets into saccharine is bad, which is the rest of the wines that are mentioned as “sweet.”

Mumm Napa Brut Rosé
PRICE: $18
AVAILABILITY: Everywhere.
NOTES: A surprisingly delicate light berry rosé that is the second best domestic wine on here to the Michelle.

Canned

Babe Rosé With Bubbles
PRICE: $13 for 4
AVAILABILITY: Nice Grocery Stores
NOTES: If you can get past how obnoxious Fat Jew’s wine outfit is, this is a fairly inoffensive sparkling rosé. It can bend sweet, though.

Francis Ford Coppola Sofia Mini Blanc de Blancs
PRICE: $17 for 4
AVAILABILITY: Everywhere
NOTES: The only way to drink Sofia. This is probably the sweetest on the list, which feels ameliorated in the can.

Presto Proscecco
PRICE: $12 for 4
AVAILABILITY: Whole Foods
NOTES: Straightforward Prosecco. Probably the weakest of the cans—and certainly the worst design—but inoffensive enough.

Bizarre

Ludlows Grapefruit Elderflower Spritz!
PRICE: $20
AVAILABILITY: Small Batch Grocers & Select Whole Foods
NOTES: A fascinating, fascinating sweet take on sparkling wine that will have many divided. This isn’t for serious drinking and should be brought more for the novelty of “Let’s try this fun new drink thing!”

Now that you are cheap champagne woke, a word of caution: just because some wines are cheap doesn’t mean that they are all a steal in terms of taste. Some wines are truly foul and that is why they are cheap. Leave these be on the shelf. Do not be seduced by them and, more than half the time, you will get bit by these bad wines.

So, some advice—because I love you and want you to always put your best drunk foot forward—here are seven sparkling wines to be wary of as they’re a bit too sweet, too divisive, and generally not a wine that has an evenness that will please large groups. Purchase at your own risk! And, if you have any other questions, refer to these tips on buying wine.

Sutter Home Bubbly Pink Moscato
Unless you are a sweet tooth craving syrup, anything with the word “moscat” or “moscato” are to be wary of. The same can be said of the word “Spumante” and, obviously, “Sweet.” This is like sucking on a peach covered in honey in the worst way possible. You are not a sixty year old grandmother from Jersey. Do not with this.

Anything Stella Rosa
This entire brand is a disaster of sweetness. Do not be seduced by them. They are foul, Vegas wine makers.

Wilson Creek Almond Champagne
“Almond,” you think. “That sounds interesting!” That is code for sweetened. If anything is described to have “marzipan” notes, you can guarantee that you will be drinking backhanded desert wine.

Martini & Rossi Asti
By far the prettiest looking of the bad sect, Martini & Rossi is another sweet trap. Such a shame considering you were trained by Borders™ art books to think it’s cool wine.

Bellini Cocktail
Pour yourself peach juice and think about how good that sounds. Now add shitty “sparkling” wine that is probably just Sprite and vodka.

J.Roget
“Wow,” you think. “A champagne that costs $3?!” Buy this one time, for yourself, and find out what that means. This is literally California hobo wine, pardon the slur.

Andre
You are not in college. Buy Freixenet. If that $10 wine is pushing it, Cooks is acceptable (unless it’s their Sweet Rosé, Spumante, or Moscato: stay away). Never Andre, if you are over 21. That is the booze of children and sickness.

If you ever have a wine question, just Tweet me. I am here for you. You need to drink like the sophisticated adult that you believe yourself to be but do not have the funding to back. Let this list guide you, low budget bitches.

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