Champagne is a go-to beverage when you have a special occasion and want to celebrate. As you’re probably aware, champagne can be quite expensive. Whether it’s New Year’s, a birthday, a newborn baby, or you just received a big promotion at work and don’t want to bust your budget celebrating, it pays to know your options for the best affordable champagne.
Speaking of celebrations, a recent study found that Americans will attend an average of 10 holiday gatherings. They’ll also celebrate each holiday an average of two separate times. That’s a lot of celebrating, folks. So you better not come empty-handed.
Maybe you bought some bubbly but don’t get around to popping a bottle this year. Well, how long will it last? A recent study reveals a 40-year shelf life for standard 750-milliliter bottles, 82 years for 1.5-liter bottles, and an impressive 132 years for three-liter bottles. Anything beyond those time frames, and you are looking at a seriously flat drink. Gasses can still leak from bottles over time, so you might want to consider uncorking it sooner than a hundred years from now.
What makes a quality bottle of champagne?
Champagne: the celebratory drink of choice, synonymous with opulence and exorbitant price tags. But fear not, budget-conscious bubbly hunters! You can still uncork a satisfying sip without leaving your wallet gasping for air. This guide dives into the world of affordable champagne, revealing the secrets to finding quality without a hefty splurge. So, raise your (imaginary) flute and prepare to toast with gusto!
Quality, Not Just Quaff:
- Origin Story: Ditch the generic “sparkling wine” and seek out bottles labeled “Champagne.” This designation signifies grapes grown and made within the Champagne region of France, ensuring stricter quality standards.
- Grape Expectations: Look for blends dominated by Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, or Pinot Meunier. These classic Champagne grapes offer a balanced base, avoiding overly sweet or one-dimensional flavors.
- The Brut Truth: Brut styles are drier, with less added sugar, and tend to offer more complex, food-friendly flavors. Avoid sweeter “demi-sec” or “doux” styles unless you crave a dessert-like treat.
Value Hacks for Vigilant Sippers:
- Smaller Producers: Venture beyond big brands! Boutique labels often focus on quality over marketing, offering hidden gems at accessible prices. Check local wine shops or online retailers for independent producers.
- Non-Vintage vs. Vintage: Non-vintage Champagnes blend grapes from different years, providing consistency and often better value. Vintage Champagnes, from a single year, can be pricier but offer exceptional character.
- Think Outside the Bottle: Don’t underestimate Crémant and Cava! These sparkling wines from other regions, like France’s Loire Valley and Spain, offer similar styles and quality at often lower prices.
Remember, “cheap” doesn’t have to mean “cheap quality.” By prioritizing these tips and focusing on quality over brand names, you can uncork a delightful bottle of champagne that satisfies your taste buds and your wallet. So, which champagnes can you grab on a budget that will still taste great? StudyFinds did the research, consulting 13 foodie and spirit review sites in an attempt to bring you a consensus list of the best cheap champagne alternatives. Our list comprises the seven most frequently listed champagnes from across these sites. Some of the expert-recommended bottles are not technically champagne, but make a great stand in when you are pinching pennies. Think the expert reviewers missed a great bottle of bubbly? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!
The List: Best Cheap Champagne Alternatives, According to Reviews
The top spot on the list belongs to Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne Brut. Brut champagne is a dry champagne that pairs well with a variety of foods and Feuillatte’s is one of the favorites.
“Take a walk through the streets of Paris and you’ll run into Nicolas wine shops as often as you’d run into a Starbucks in New York. And gracing those Parisian shelves is quite typically bottles of Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne, which was founded on the mission of bringing delicious Champagne to the casual wine drinker. Well, Parisians have had their fill of the number one brand in France—now it’s your turn. Light, expressive, and aromatic, this award-winning brut encapsulates every value that Nicolas Feuillatte stands for,” raves Liquor.
If you’re new to the world of wine and champagne, this is a great choice to help you get started. “This champagne contains notes of pear, apple, almonds and hazelnuts, and has a bright finish. You’ll be transported to the south of France in no time,” writes Marie Claire.
This is a popular brand of champagne for casual champagne lovers. If you want something authentic without breaking the bank, this Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne Brut is right for you.
“Nicolas Feuillatte Réserve Exclusive Brut is a Champagne made from 20% Chardonnay grapes, 40% pinot noir and 40% pinot meuneir, enjoy the scent of floral aromas mixed with white fruits. If you’re looking for the perfect pairing, the winemaker suggests Breton lobster and cream sauce, sole morel mushrooms and chicken brochettes with citronella,” explains Go Banking Rates.
2. Chandon Brut
Next up on the list of the top champagnes on a budget is Chandon Brut. Chandon offers an extensive selection of champagne and sparkling wines, some affordable and several luxury, but you can rest assured that you’re receiving a quality bottle of bubbly.
“An ideal pairing for shellfish, this California sparkler bring citrus brightness with an edge of preserved lemon and a night minerality that makes it clean and easy-drinking on the palette,” writes Town and Country.
This is a great sipping champagne or it goes well in mimosas. Regardless of how you drink it, Chandon Brut is consistently tasty and refreshing. “This is constant, always giving you a consistent flavor. When I am at a restaurant and they have splits, this is typically what I order. It’s crisp as you’d expect from a brut and very easy to sip on and enjoy,” furthers Bubbly Side of Life.
You won’t be disappointed in this affordable champagne alternative from Chandon. The brand developed this brut from a blend of popular grapes as well as an abundance of other flavors. “This reliable pick from Northern California is a crisp blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with notes of tart apple and citrus,” adds Cosmopolitan.
The third spot on the list of the top value champagnes is La Marca Prosecco. Prosecco might not be champagne, but it’s made the same way and tastes delicious.
La Marca offers a stellar lineup of proseccos including a rosé aptly named Playfully Pink. Regardless of which you choose, La Marca’s Proseccos are sure to delight.
“La Marca splits are the ones I drink when I am in the main cabin of Alaska Airlines and you know me, I barely like the juice when I actually order a mimosa, so I drink it (practically) right from the bottle… If I am adding juice, I typically will add grapefruit juice to create my favorite type of mimosa,” adds Bubbly Side of Life.
Many of the reviewers love this prosecco in a mimosa mixed drink. But, La Marca Prosecco is also great all on its own. The fruity, crisp taste makes it the perfect pre and post-dinner choice. “When you see that beloved sky blue label, you know the party is starting with a favorite cheap prosecco. Maybe get two bottles, since it is very easy to drink,” furthers The Penny Hoarder.
4. Korbel Brut
Next up on the list of the top value champagnes is Korbel Brut. It is a very well-known brand and you’re likely to find these bottles on the shelves of your local grocery store. “Korbel Brut California is a good choice for those looking for an affordable yet high-quality champagne to mix with Mimosa. Unlike other sparkling wines, this Korbel from the Champagne region is versatile and pairs well with many different flavors, especially in citrus and orange juices. Additionally, this champagne is produced using only the finest grapes from Sonoma County, ensuring that each bottle delivers consistent quality,” writes Liquor Laboratory.
Korbel is easily one of the most recognizable brands on the market and for good reason. They consistently deliver crisp flavors and a refreshing product. “Who else started drinking bubbly with Korbel? When you’re in a pinch and in a hurry, this is easy to grab. Korbel suggests that this has crisp flavors of orange, lime, vanilla and a hint of strawberry. This makes for a perfect traditional mimosa (with OJ) or strawberry mimosas,” adds Bubbly Side of Life.
Korbel is based in California and produces its sparkling wines méthode champenoise which refers to the bottle fermentation process. This process also helps Korbel match the taste of champagne while also keeping the prices low and affordable.
“You’ll get citrus flavors with a hint of cinnamon in a bottle like this…It’s light with a crispness that makes it ideal for mimosas, but it’s also delicious on its own,” explains The Krazy Coupon Lady.
5. La Vostra Prosecco
The fifth spot on the list of the best champagnes on a budget belongs to another prosecco, this time it’s La Vostra Prosecco. Prosecco’s are light, crisp, and tasty, and La Vostra checks all of those boxes.
🚨 Wine of the Week (W.o.W) 🚨
Haven’t done champagne in a while…I give you…La Vostra Prosecco 🥂
🍇Grape Variety: Prosecco
🍇Aromas/ Taste Like: Crisp, Apple and citrus flavors, peaches, honeysuckle
🍇Price: Normally $21.49 but it was pic.twitter.com/0NzZ37dt0F
— The Wine Aesthetic (@AestheticWine) November 18, 2020
“When you’re scanning wine bottles, you’ll notice that proseccos are considerably less expensive than French Champagnes. The Italian sparkling wine style does not sacrifice quality, however. Because proseccos do not require the extra steps employed in the Champagne method of making the wine, they can reduce costs. Many people find that proseccos actually taste better, too,” explains The Spruce Eats.
La Vostra Prosecco is produced in Italy and features a range of flavors including honeysuckle. “La Vostra Prosecco is the best champagne for mimosas because it is a light-bodied sparkling wine. It is one of the affordable champagnes we frequently use when we like mimosas for brunch. The winery follows strict quality control measures with the bottle of sparkling wine. Each bottle of La Vostra Prosecco sparkling wine is made from high-quality grapes grown in the Veneto region of Italy,” adds Liquor Laboratory.
This prosecco is made in the Veneto region of Italy with the finest quality. If you’re a fan of proseccos, then you owe it to yourself to give La Vostra a try. “Aromas of peach and honey brighten the wine, making it perfect for date night,” writes The Krazy Coupon Lady.
Next up on the list of the top affordable champagnes is Segura Viudas Brut Reserva. This delicious brut comes from Spain and pairs well with everything from mimosas to lobster dinner to a savory dessert.
“Spain has got it going on when it comes to budget-friendly bubbly and the Segura Viudas Brut Cava does its best to give buyers the most bang for the buck. This is a rich textured, creamy sparkling wine running initial floral aromas alongside toasted almond, green apple and d’Anjou pear-driven components that debut again on the palate amid the clean, crisp lines of distinct acidity and a fresh finish,” adds Best Wines Under 20.
Segura Viudas takes the utmost pride in its products and it shows with this brut. They use a combination of three unique grapes and allow at least 12 months for fermentation to deliver a delicious result. “A blend of Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarello grapes give this brut cava from Spain its sweet yet smokey flavor,” raves Good Housekeeping.
This brand’s vineyard is located just outside of Barcelona, Spain, and dates back to the 12th century. With such a rich history and a focus on quality, one would expect a bottle of this cava brut to cost more than it does.
“Made with centuries-old cava traditions, this robust and fruity cava pairs well with seafood and cheeses, or with that midnight toast and kiss. A very refreshing drink that tastes similar to brut Champagne,” adds The Penny Hoarder.
7. Gruet Brut
Gruet is an American company based out of New Mexico, making sparkling wine in the same fashion as champagne. “It’s also made in méthode champenoise, which means that even though it’s not technically Champagne, it’s made in the same style, and your friends will be none the wiser. And they’ll think you’re rich enough to buy Champagne, so there’s that,” writes Thrillist.
Gruet produces sparkling wines using méthode champenoise to create a finished product as close to champagne as possible. This process also helps infuse various flavors and give Gruet an excellent finishing taste.
“This crisp, full-bodied Brut from New Mexico—who knew?—is a favorite affordable sparkler of those in the know: Wine Spectator and Tasting Panel both grade it in the low 90s (out of 100), an impressive rating for the price,” adds Cosmopolitan.
Gruet Brut scores so high in taste tests because the company was founded by a brother and sister team from the Champagne region of France. Couple this with Gruet’s methods and attention to detail and you have a delicious and affordable product.
“This particular sparkling wine gem is produced by French expats, a brother and sister team from Champagne. In the mid-1980s they moved to New Mexico to plant an ‘experimental’ vineyard with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the main grapes of Champagne. The arid climate keeps rot at bay, while simultaneously eliminating the need for pesticides, and the dramatic temperature swings between hot days and cool nights slows the grapes ripening down and adds to the bright acidity found in Gruet wines,” furthers Best Wines Under 20.
Champagne, the quintessential symbol of celebration and luxury, evokes images of popping corks and overflowing glasses. However, its reputation for high price tags can often leave budget-conscious individuals feeling excluded. Fear not, for the world of effervescence offers a plethora of affordable champagnes alternatives that deliver delightful flavors and festive charm without breaking the bank.
Understanding the Price Spectrum: What Makes Champagne Affordable?
Several factors contribute to the affordability of champagne:
- Dosage: Brut champagnes, with the lowest sugar content, tend to be more affordable than sweeter varieties like demi-sec or doux.
- Non-vintage: Non-vintage champagnes, blends of different years, are typically more accessible than vintage champagnes, made from grapes harvested in a single year.
- Brand Recognition: Lesser-known producers often offer exceptional champagnes at lower prices compared to established brands.
- Region: Champagnes produced outside the prestigious Champagne region, such as Crémant de Bourgogne or Cava, can be remarkably affordable while still delivering high quality.
Choosing Quality on a Budget
Here are key considerations when selecting a quality affordable champagne:
- Appellation: Look for the “Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée” (AOC) label, ensuring your champagne is produced in the Champagne region using traditional methods.
- Grape Variety: Champagne is primarily made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Explore blends and single varietals to discover your preference.
- Reviews and Ratings: Consult online reviews and ratings from reputable sources to gain insights into different champagnes before purchasing.
- Producer Reputation: Research smaller champagne houses known for producing excellent quality at affordable prices.
- Taste Profile: Consider your personal preference for dry, fruity, or floral notes when making your selection.
You might also be interested in:
- Good Housekeeping
- The Penny Hoarder
- Town and Country
- Best Wines Under 20
- Bubbly Side of Life
- The Krazy Coupon Lady
- Liquor Laboratory
- The Spruce Eats
- Go Banking Rates
- Liquor (.com)
- Marie Claire
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.