Make us your home page

Champagne, cava, prosecco: Which bubbly is right for your New Year's Eve celebration?

If you're popping a bottle to celebrate New Year's Eve this weekend, consider its intended purpose. Are you having a party, and pouring for 20? Are you mixing the bubbles with other alcohol to create a festive cocktail? Will the fizz stand alone as you sip it slowly, awaiting midnight?

A certain type of sparkling wine may be best for each of those different scenarios.

Champagne is often the default bubbly for celebrating, but recently, more affordable varieties like cava and prosecco have become popular.

Jason Grunwald, manager of the Total Wine & More store in St. Petersburg, said he has noticed more customers asking for Champagne alternatives.

"I've been asked more about prosecco the last six to 12 months than in the past," he said. "Cava has always been more popular, but for the partygoers and the event throwers, now they're really leaning toward cava because you get high-quality stuff at a really good price."

We asked him to explain the difference between these two sparkling wines and Champagne — and when it's worth splurging on the good stuff.



The most ubiquitous sparkling wine gets its name from the region of France in which it is produced. Simply, if it's a sparkling wine and it's not produced in Champagne, it can't technically be called Champagne.

"There's quite a few Champagne houses producing good Champagne in France," Grunwald said. "Your Champagne selection is generally greater than your prosecco and cava options. And it's hard to find a bad bottle of Champagne."

Grunwald said Champagne has more toasty notes than other sparkling wines, with fig and almond flavors present in the high-quality varieties. A bottle will run you $25 to $300.

A lesser-known sparkling wine option related to Champagne is a Cremant, which is produced in different parts of France but in the same style as the wine produced in Champagne. It's often more affordable, with bottles typically starting around $20. (According to Grunwald, the highest-priced bottle of Cremant at Total Wine is about $40.)

"It can be similar to Champagne, and they range from light bodied to full bodied and most of them are dry," Grunwald said. "A popular or common fruit characteristic is strawberry and apple. We move a decent amount of Cremant because they're set right next to our Champagne, so you can see the affordability."

Grunwald suggests: Pertois Moriset Grand Cru Brut Champagne, $39.99

Luquet Cremant de Bourgogne, $19.99 (which he calls "one of the best ways in the entire store to spend $20")


Cava is a sparkling wine that comes from Spain, the majority of which is produced in the Catalonia region. Bottles typically start at $10 or less, making it an ideal bubbly for a large crowd. Grunwald said the most expensive cava they currently sell at his store is $20.

"These are generally pretty light in style," he said. "Very versatile. You can do cava for mimosas or by itself. And I would say that customers purchasing something for parties or events, they buy cava more often than the others."

Cava is more floral, crisp and citrusy than Champagne, and not quite as acidic.

Grunwald suggests: Rondel Brut, $8.99

Frisonee, $8.97


Italy's most popular sparkling wine is prosecco, an easy-sipping option that is often fruitier than Champagne. It's also lighter bodied and not quite as bubbly.

"You don't really have cases of prosecco leaving the building for parties," Grunwald said, "but prosecco can be pretty versatile. Some customers like to do mixed drink cocktails with it."

Like cava, prosecco is more affordable than Champagne, with bottles ranging up to about $30.

"They are cheaper because they are missing that prestige," Grunwald said. "The storied history isn't as detailed and lengthy as Champagne."

Light, medium or heavy bodied, prosecco is typically drier and on the slightly sweeter side.

Grunwald suggests: Santi Nello, $14.99

Cava Sangria

3 tablespoons sugar

3 shots apple liquor

1 lime, sliced

1 lemon, sliced

2 ripe peaches, cut into wedges

3 ripe green apples seeded and cut into wedges

1 bottle cava

1 pint raspberries

Combine sugar, apple liquor, lime, lemon, peaches and apples in a large pitcher. Cover with 1 bottle cava and chill sangria several hours. To serve, spoon fruit into glasses or goblets, adding a few fresh raspberries in each glass, and pour wine over top of the fruit.

Makes 1.

Source: Adapted from Food Network


Raspberry Limoncello Prosecco

3 cups prosecco, chilled

1 cup limoncello liqueur, chilled

1 cup frozen raspberries

6 sprigs fresh mint

In a large pitcher, whisk together prosecco and limoncello.

Serve over raspberries, garnished with mint, if desired.

Makes 1.



Champagne Cocktail

¾ teaspoon bitters

½ ounce lemon juice

¼ ounce maple syrup

6 ounces Champagne

Twist of lemon

Stir the bitters, lemon juice and syrup in a flute. When combined, add the Champagne. Squeeze the lemon twist over the top, wipe the rim with it and discard.

Makes 1.

Source: New York Times

Champagne, cava, prosecco: Which bubbly is right for your New Year's Eve celebration? 12/26/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 28, 2016 5:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. If you miss out on Retro Futura tour, you'll be needing a little 'Tenderness'


    Closing out Retro Futura Week is a little bit of a cheat. We started the week with the English Beat and we end it with an offshoot of the Beat, the band General Public and their hit …

  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Aug. 20


    The Art of the Brick: An elaborate display of more than 100 pieces of Lego artwork including the life sized sculpture of a man ripping open his chest, a 20-foot-long T. rex skeleton, a giant skull and replicas of famous works including Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night and Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona …

    Eliana Goldberg, 5, of Wesley Chapel looks at a Lego sculpture called "Everlasting" at The Art of the Brick exhibit, which opened Friday in Tampa and runs through Sept. 4. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  3. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters


    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]
  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Aug. 19


    Monster Jam Triple Threat Series: Come early for the Pit Party ($15 or free at local Ford dealers) to meet the drivers and get pictures with the trucks. 7 p.m., Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $15-$80. (813) 301-2500.

    A crew member from the El Toro Loco monster truck, installs a truck tire, Thursday, 8/17/17 in preparation for Saturday's  Monster Jam Triple Threat Series at Amalie Arena, Tampa. The event will be held Saturday at 1pm and 7 pm.
  5. There's a bar in Tampa where you can roller skate and eat sushi

    Food & Dining

    Roller skating, it's not just for kids birthday parties and the 1970s anymore.

    The exterior of Pattinis features this mural by Art Aliens! [Pattinis South Tampa via Facebook]