12 summer sparkling wines, because who needs a reason – The Denver Post

By Eric Asimov, The New York Times

The world may not offer much to celebrate right now. Nonetheless, it’s a great time to drink sparkling wine.

Champagne, of course, sets the standard with its capacity for elegance, grace, subtlety and depth. But many other types of sparkling wine are available now as well, from unexpected places and a diversity of styles, making this summer a great time for a joyous exploration of the sparkling repertory.

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say that humans are fascinated with fizziness. From a child’s pleasure at blowing bubbles to our lifelong enjoyment of soft drinks and beer, to the purely adult satisfaction of watching Champagne beads float upward in a glass, we are taken with what sparkles.

The pleasure is visual; it’s aural, as in the seductive sound of a pop and pour; and it’s tactile. Bubbles from a good sparkling wine feel great in the mouth.

I recently scoured the online selections of Manhattan wine shops, looking for moderately priced bottles of sparkling wines other than Champagne.

Why omit Champagne? Mostly because of its price. While it’s possible to find bottles as cheap as $25 or $30, most good Champagnes these days start at roughly $40.

I decided that I wanted both to look for less expensive bottles and to explore the rest of the sparkling wine world. So I picked 12 sparkling wines other than Champagne, up to roughly the $40 point at which good Champagne starts to be available. The most expensive bottle among my 12 cost $41.

These bottles are not at all intended as Champagne replacements. They each offer their own personalities and pleasures, which can be enjoyed without reference to that overpowering presence among sparklers.

Champagne, by the way, has been having a tough time through the pandemic months. With bars and restaurants closing, and people not feeling particularly festive, sales have dropped sharply.

Buy Champagne if you like, by all means. There’s much to explore, from the best of the big houses to new names among the small grower-producers. But to look beyond Champagne is not to turn your back on it. It’s rather to open yourself to additional sparkling expressions, many of them distinctive in their own rights.