How to choose sparkling wines by flavor

And chances are — even though you are reading this — that might be the only time this year you drink bubbly, outside of a wedding, a birthday celebration or some other special occasion.

The vast majority of champagne and other sparkling wines sold in the United States are purchased and consumed in December.

It is expensive; we tend to call any wine with bubbles “champagne,” because that reinforces the idea of indulgence and excess — which, in turn, offends our collective American fear that enjoying the here and now will somehow deprive us of pleasure or virtue in the hereafter.

(And believe me, champagne producers would be very happy if we stopped referring to the cheap carbonated swill a lot of us drink as “champagne.”) A bottle of Spanish cava, Italian prosecco or California fizz costs $10 to $20, so celebrations can happen any day.

The main reason champagne is the ne plus ultra of bubbly is the way it is made, with a second fermentation occurring in bottle to give the wine its sparkle.

Italy offers franciacorta , a champagne-method wine that is fairly hard to find in the United States and is often as pricey as champagne.

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