Awesome Sparkling Wine That's Not Champagne

Awesome Sparkling Wine That's Not Champagne

Dec 14, 2023Sadie Williams

It's easy to love Champagne. It's also easy to see why at $60 and up, it's not a bad idea to have sparkling wines that deliver Champagne quality for half the price in your back pocket. But where to start? This Dispatch gives you the keys to the bubbly kingdom with a rundown of our favorite sparkling wines that aren't Champagne. Cava, Prosecco, pét-nat, and all the cremants. Learn the terms to look out for so you're ready the next time you walk into the shop.


Winemaking Method: Traditional Method
Region: France

A Cremant — sparkling wine made in the same way as Champagne, but from other regions of France — will deliver similarly festive results for half the price. We’re partial to Cremant d’Alsace, Cremant de Jura, and Cremant de Loire. In general, we find Cremant du Jura to be the closest to Champagne.

Where Champagne is made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, or Pinot Munier, Cremants will be made with local varieties, like Pinot Gris in Alsace and Chenin Blanc in the Loire. If Pinot Noir or Chardonnay are grown in the region, like in the Jura, you’ll also likely find Cremants made with those varieties.


Winemaking Method: Charmat Method
Region: Prosecco, Italy

Prosecco from Italy is made differently than Champagne. There’s less pressure in the bottle, and hence a lighter bead (or bubble.) The aromas and flavors run more toward green apple, melon, pear, and white flowers than the peachy, almondy, bready aromas of Champagne.


Winemaking Method: Traditional Method
Region: Catalonia, Spain

Cava is made in the Penedes region of Catalonia. In terms of overall aroma and flavor, it’s much closer to Champagne than Prosecco is, because it’s made in the same way. Instead of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir, winemakers here use native varieties like Xarel-lo, Parellada, and Macabeau — although Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are planted.

We love the Cava of AT Roca and Alta Alella.

Pét Nat

Winemaking Method: Ancestral Method
Region: Many

The Ancestral Method involves a single fermentation that’s finished in bottle to capture all that bubbly goodness. Pét nats generally have a looser bead and less dense mousse than Champagne, and many are cloudy from the lees that remain after fermentation is complete.

Pét nats are often less expensive than Champagne and come in white, rosé, orange, and red styles. They can pair with many different foods and are a super versatile companion at the table.

We like pét nats from Cellar de les Aus, Brand, and Ellison Estate Vineyards.


Winemaking Method: Charmat, Ancestral, and Traditional Methods, depending on the producer
Region: Emilia Romania, Italy

Yes, that Lambrusco — but better than you remember. A gorgeous, dry red or rosé or deep purple sparkling wine made in the far north of Italy. A knockout with pizza, pasta, and knobby chunks of handcrafted Parmigiano Reggiano. You can often find Lambrusco at insanely good prices for bottles from small producers. The price-to-quality ratio has the potential to be off the charts.

Lambrusco is pure fun. Fruity and usually medium bodied, with medium tannins (depends on which Lambrusco variety is used), high acidity, and dry or off-dry. Keep a bottle on hand for cozy nights on the couch or impromptu cheeseboards and thank us later.

We love Lambrusco from Moretto, Villa di Corlo, and Mirco Gianaroli.

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