By Rick Riozza

Sparkling wine continues its bubbly business boom throughout the world. Over a decade ago, I personally promised those that invested the sparkling wine market would see sparkles in their portfolio. From high-end Champagnes to affordable domestic brands, the market has risen over 30%; and you’re very welcome! You have my email, thanks for your generosity!!

And a decade ago, a lot of the bubbly was generally opened for that birthday, anniversary, holiday, special event and romantic soirees. They still are in droves; but we are also drinking up the sparkles at breakfast, brunch, lunch, happy hour, dinner, and dessert. Joy to the world!

Sparkling wines are now as common as any red, white, orange, or rosé quaffer on any given day, on any given dinner table. We are free to enjoy bubbles any time we wish! Cheers and here’s to you—you wine lover!


We’ll be sprinkling our December columns with vino recommendations throughout. But if we need to cut to the chase with some fast picks for holiday cheers and your house—let’s show three immediate California bubblies that are available at every big market chain as we speak:

First on the list of grab & go sparklers is the Domaine Chandon Brut Rosé ($18). This is the producer’s non-vintage bubbly with a new chic pink label. For years now, this wine and its main competitor, Mumm, trade back and forth as to which sparkling is the best for the year. This time it’s Domaine Chandon: It’s a festive bubbly to be sure: Vibrant is the word that most wine reviews shout out. You’ve got strawberry, ginger, spice flavors, stone fruits, fresh citrus. It all works very well and will be the hit of any party or meal. It’s the deal!

Another quick bubbly to find & grab will be the Decoy NV Brut Cuvée Sparkling ($20). The world seems to love anything the Decoy/Duckhorn brand is pouring. The same goes for its bubbly. Surely it’s a delicious work and everyone in the house is happy when the cork is popped. One enthusiast writes: “an enticing sparkling wine that offers alluring layers of baked apple, white peach and orange zest, as well as aromatic hints of honeysuckle and vanilla. On the palate, a delicate sweetness is perfectly balanced by bright acidity, which adds poise and energy to the lush, pure fruit flavors.”

Wine Spectator writes: “Snappy and fresh, with layered and steely lemon and orange zest flavors accented by floral vanilla notes. Drink now.”—well okay then!

Another California favorite is the Domaine Carneros Brut Estate 2016. If you wish to treat your household to a vintage bubbly, this is the ticket at around $34. “Creamy, crisp, and luscious with layered Asian pear, brioche and fresh ginger flavors that build vibrancy on the rich lingering finish”, is what Wine Spectator lauds on this wine. This always does a great job. And if you’re counting, it’s one of the highest scoring sparklers out right now at 93 points!

And since we mentioned Domaine Chandon earlier, we’ll go ahead and recommend another wonderful non-vintage bubbly: Domaine Chandon Blanc de Blancs Carneros by the Bay Cuvée P15 Carneros Vineyard Reserve. For sure that’s a long name but at only around $30, its one of the best buys for a nice crisp bubbly from California. Wine Spectator writes: “Fresh and vibrant, with lively apple and lemon verbena flavors that take on fresh ginger and spice accents and finish on a refreshing note.

Finally—the bubbly we all enjoyed over Thanksgiving was the Valdo Cuvée 1926 Valdobbiadene Prosecco ($22). We recommended this wine just a couple of weeks ago, quite honestly, it’s worth mentioning again—it’s that good and festive. Granted, one may not find this wine at the large market chains—things could change however, but you can easily order this wine up at your smaller wine shops and/or your favorite liquor store.

This is an Italian sparkler that works with all the meal prepping and then on to the lunch or dinner table. I’ll go ahead and quote myself from my previous writeup: “Winemaker Gianfranco Zanon’s tasting notes state: “Ripe apple, pear, peach along with tropical fruits such as banana and pineapple are accented by floral notes. A well-balanced, pleasant, and harmonious palate with a medium-body and a long, persistent finish. Perfect pairing with risotto, white meat and after the meal with fresh peaches.” And don’t be nervous, Valdobbiadene is easily pronounced as VAL-doe-bee-AHH-Deen-nay. Saluti!”

We’re keeping things simple this week for your quick grab & go house wine. The reds are coming up next time. Stay tuned—cheers!

Rick is your somm-about-town. And just in case you forgot his email address—here it is: