Best Sparkling Wines to Substitute Champagne

Sparkling wines might be synonymous with Champagne, but they are in no way limited to the French beverage. Check out some sparkling wine substitutes here.

By Shira Telushkin

Best Sparkling Wines to Substitute Champagne
Photo by Shutterstock

When it comes to bubbly, celebratory wines, there are other sparkling wine options beyond Champagne. From English sparkling wine to Italian sparkling wine, there are so many different wines with sweetness, flavor, and bite. Here are some of the best Champagne alternative suggestions.

What is Champagne?

When it comes to weddings, Champagne is one of the more popular beverages. But what exactly is Champagne? The effervescent wine gets its name from a region in northern France known as Champagne. And while there are lots of sparkling wines out there, only wine produced in this specific French region made under a strict set of rules and conditions actually qualifies as Champagne.

Best Sparkling Wines to Substitute Champagne Photo Credit // Shutterstock

When Did Sparkling Wine Become Associated with Celebrations?

The origins of champagne are clouded in various legends, but for centuries the popping of a bottle of Champagne was considered the mark of a joyful and jubilant moment, especially in the 18th century French courts, where Champagne became the bottle of choice for joyous occasions.

But not all cork-popping wines need to be from the French region of Champagne. When looking for a substitute wine for Champagne, there are a few things to consider. Most important is the taste and the experience. For many people, the taste is less important, as long as the wine is reasonably high quality. But the experience can make all the difference. Champagne is supposed to be a fun celebration of a drink, and you want the presentation to match. Not all sparkling wines open with a popped cork. For example, the Moscato d’Asti below does not pop with force when opened. If the popping of the cork is very important to you, then make sure you are choosing a wine where the cork comes in a small wire cage, known as a muselet. This is your tip that the cork will pop when you open it.

Sparkling Wines to Substitute for Champagne

Want to explore your options? Here are some suitable Champagne alternatives:

Prosecco: Prosecco, made in Italy, is one of the most well known sparkling wines outside of Champagne. It’s known for its fruity taste and can be frothier than other bubbly wines. This is an all-around great option for celebratory drinking, and is an ideal substitute for Champagne.

Cava: Cava is a sparkling wine produced in Spain, and it is becoming increasingly popular in the US. Though cava comes in a range of sweetness options, the most common varieties tend to be dry. Cava is generally available at inexpensive prices and considered a high-quality option for sparkling wine. This is the wine you want to get when you want a sparkling wine, but something a little unexpected for your guests.

Schramsberg Vineyards: The Schramsberg Vineyards of California produce a range of sparkling wines that have received high praise for their bubbles, flavors, and attention to detail. Their sparkling wines can be pricey, but the methods of their winemaking produce complex bottles that speak for themselves. If you want a US-based sparkling wine that will impress, this is the place to go.

Best Sparkling Wines to Substitute Champagne Photo Credit // Shutterstock

Lambrusco: Lambrusco is an Italian sparkling red wine, which differentiates it from the abundance of sparkling white wines. For a long time, this was considered a cheaper bottle, favored among older adults, but it has gained new attention in recent years. Don’t be afraid to break this out when you want sparkling wine that’s a little different.

Moscato d’Asti and Moscato Asti Spumante: Moscato, usually produced either semi-sparkling or sparkling (but make sure you’re not buying it still), is a sweet, sparkling wine that’s usually inexpensive and easy to drink, thanks to its high sugar content. This is the wine for guests who might wrinkle their noses at dry red wines, but will be delighted to find a glass of something sweet and delicious.

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