If you're throwing a holiday party, you can dream up a delicious menu of holiday appetizers and deck the halls as fancily as you'd like, but we all know your guests really just want one thing (other than your wonderful company, of course) -- booze. And during the holidays, we try to keep those booze on the classy side, meaning something with bubbles. But if you don't want to throw down the cash for several expensive bottles of Champagne, what do you do?
We've got the answer, in the form of sparkling wines under $20. We took a trip to New York's Warehouse Wines & Spirits, whose experts selected 10 of their top-selling sparklers under $20 for our team to taste. We conducted a blind taste test back at our office, tasting each brand and ranking them accordingly.
The results? Three of the 10 bottles we tasted were perfectly pleasant -- we'd gladly recommend them with full confidence that you'll have happy partygoers. The others? Those are a little riskier, so consider yourself warned. See the slideshow below to read all of our tasters' comments.
We previously tested the best sparkling rosés under $20. Check out the results!
#1: Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut (Washington), $13.99
<strong>RECOMMENDED</strong> <b>Comments:</b> "Good bubbles, with a nice neutral Champagne-like flavor." "Nice and light." "Nice round taste, and crisp." "Oh! This is kind of cidery. I taste apples, but it's not too sweet." "It's a little sweet, but I'm digging the light bubbles. It tastes delicate." "Surprisingly complex. Some real Champagne-like breadiness. The finish is a little sweet." <a href="http://domaine-ste-michelle.com/wines/brut.html">Read more about this wine</a>
#2: Gruet Brut (New Mexico), $14.99
<strong>RECOMMENDED</strong> <b>Comments:</b> "Perfectly pleasant." "Relatively awesome, actually." "Light and dry." "Simple, light, kind of sweet. I like that it doesn't hit you over the head." "Good carbonation, with a complex, tart taste." "Very fine. Nice balance, plenty of fruitiness." <a href="http://www.gruetwinery.com/wines/non-vintage-sparkling-wines">Read more about this wine</a>
#3: Segura Viudas Aria Brut Cava (Spain), $11.99
<strong>RECOMMENDED</strong> <b>Comments:</b> "Has a very grape fragrance, but tastes more like Granny Smith apples." "Very dry, I'm getting a lot of grapey-ness." "Dry!" "Nice, dry and light. This could get me drunk very fast." "Nice a bubbly, with strong zest. But the finish is mouth-puckering." <a href="http://www.wine.com/V6/Segura-Viudas-Aria-Brut-Cava/wine/4101/detail.aspx?state=NY">Read more about this wine</a>
#4: Mionetto Prosecco (Italy), $16.99
<b>Comments:</b> "Nice and dry." "Weird aftertaste." "This has character." "Fruity!" "Great bubbles, slightly pear-y?" "Too sweet." "There are some odd funky off-notes." <a href="http://www.mionettousa.com/prosecco-brut.php">Read more about this wine</a>
#5: Stellar Organics, Extra Dry Sparkling Wine (South Africa), $9.99
<b>Comments:</b> Dry, extra bubbly and slightly acidic." "There's a slightly bad smell, but it doesn't taste as bad." "Dry, but not very light." "A little overly acidic. Kind of instant heartburn." "A solid wine." "Disgusting sugar water." <a href="http://the-triton-collection.com/sample-page/stellar-organics/stellar-organics-extra-dry-sparkling/">Read more about this wine</a>
#6: Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava (Spain), $7.99
<b>Comments:</b> "Too strong for me." "Hateful." "Bland and flat." "Easy to drink, nicely balanced." "Totally drinkable, but not amazing." "Totally bland. You forget you're drinking it mid-sip." <a href="http://www.wine.com/V6/Jaume-Serra-Cristalino-Brut-Cava/wine/6619/detail.aspx">Read more about this wine</a>
#7: Michel Freres Brut (France), $15.99
<b>Comments:</b> "So, so sour." "Clean, but not overwhelming." "Not much good flavor." "Very carbonated, and a little sour." "Nice bubbles, but that's pretty much it." <a href="http://www.nywines.com/product_details.aspx?id=5171">Read more about this wine</a>
#8: Korbel Brut (California), $15.99
<b>Comments:</b> "Utterly joyless." "Tastes kind of like chemicals." "A little flat, flavor-wise. Sort of soda-like." "Sweet and dry, almost like apple cider." "Extremely strong grape aroma. Aggressive raisin-y sweetness. Not that bubbly." <a href="http://store.korbel.com/korbel-brut---made-with-organic-grapes-750ml-p77.aspx">Read more about this wine</a>
#9: Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut (Spain), $11.99
<b>Comments:</b> "Pungent." "Dry, with no body." "Probably the most potent." "Kind of bitter. I think I hate this." "Tastes like club soda." "Pretty much tastes like 7-Up. But there are worse things." <a href="http://www.freixenetusa.com/cordon-negro-brut-sparkling-wine.php">Read more about this wine</a>
#10: Chandon Blanc de Noirs (California), $16.99
<b>Comments:</b> "So fruity I can't take it." "Bitter aftertaste." "Bitter and boring." "It's a tad too sweet." "Flat, too sweet." <a href="http://www.chandon.com/sparkling-wines.html">Read more about this wine</a>