What We’re Drinking
Anyone can track down a decent champagne, but limiting your palate to just French bubbly eliminates a wide range of other great sparkling wines. We asked three wine experts for their picks for the best alternative sparkling wines you should consider for Valentine’s Day, or really any time.
• Schramsberg, Napa’s premium sparkling wine producer, is known for making America’s best bubbly. But, they also make a sparkling wine labeled as Mirabelle that time after time in a blind tasting will be the favorite choice. Made in a brut style (mostly chardonnay) or rosé (from pinot noir), Mirabelle is an absolute steal at around $20. Hands down, the best value bubbly in the market. —Bruce Nichols, wine writer and buyer, anicholsworthofwine.com
• If you are looking for an unusual sparkling wine, Alma Negra (which means “black soul”) is your choice. This sparkling rosé is made 100 percent from malbec grapes from the Mendoza region in Argentina. Alma Negra Sparkling Rose has a delicate pale salmon color, with complex aromas of strawberry, raspberry and cassis. This killer sparkling wine from Argentina retails for about $25. —Marcello Palazzi, wine importer with WineBow, winebow.com
• When you talk South African wine, most people think Sauvignon Blanc or Pinotage. But there is one winery that is producing outstanding sparklers: Graham Beck. This family-owned estate, located on the Western Cape, produces five sparklers in all, but my favorite is their Brut Reserve NV. A blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, it is lively, with great mousse, crisp acidity and an awesome price: $17.50. —Sukie Honeycutt, co-owner and wine buyer for Tony’s Off Third, tonysoffthird.com