Keep the sparkle all year long with these holiday bubblies

Dacey Zouzas, the “Lady of Champagne”, appeared on the Grapefully Yours Wine Podcast with host Jim Campanini.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, who authored “The Great Gatsby” and other American classics, understood what it takes to orchestrate a glamorous party.

“Too much of anything is bad,” wrote Fitzgerald, “but too much Champagne is just right.”

That’s why it’s always a good idea to have a few bottles of sparkling wine on hand, especially if you want to turn a good party into a memorable one.

And you don’t have to spend a week’s pay on an expensive bottle of French bubbly to send guests swooning.

All it takes is attention to detail.

Good quality French Champagne can be purchased for under $50 a bottle.

Then there is Cremant Champagne, a category of French sparkling wine made outside the Champagne region using the same “methode traditionelle” production method. Cremant starts at $20 a bottle.

As for American-made sparkling wines, they keep getting better and better each year and represent incredible values, especially in the $20 to $45 a bottle price category.

The key point is simple: There’s a sparkler to fit every price range and no party has to go without popping a cork or two on a decent bubbly.

Champagne, however, is the King/Queen of the Ball. Below are several suggestions for you to consider:

(On a recent Grapefully Yours Wine Podcast (Tuesday, Dec. 19), Champagne “expert” Dacey Zouzas gave her tips on celebrating the holidays in style with festive beverages. Click on this link to watch:

Mumm Napa Brut Prestige

Mumm Napa Brut Prestige, California, SRP: $25 – I’ve seen this sparkler selling for as low as $18.99 a bottle at The Wine ConneXtion in Andover, so be on the lookout for a deal.

Mumm Napa is made in the same two-fermentation “methode traditionelle” style as done by its French overlord, the legendary Champagne house of G.H. Mumm which set up shop in Napa Valley in the 1980s. Brut Prestige is a party pleaser at a fabulous price: Bright and apple tasty, it flows smoothly on the palate and finishes with a dry, lingering finish.

Aubert Et Fils Brut Champagne NV, France, SRP: $34 – This small, innovative producer, led by 2017 Winemaker of the Year Christophe Rapeneau, has been around for more than five generations in Epernay, the heart of the Champagne region. You can buy this non-vintage gem for $29.99 at several local stores.

A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, Aubert punches above its weight on flavor. Think of orchard fruits and toasty, nutty secondary layers waxing poetic on the creamy palate. Crisp and lively, Aubert is bubbly and brilliant in the glass. A rose` Champagne is also available.

Heidsieck & Co. Monopole Champagne Brut “Blue Top”, France, SRP: $40 – Napoleon Bonaparte was 16 years old when Heidsieck & Co. launched its business in 1785 in Reims, the center of some of France’s oldest legacy Champagne houses (Pommery, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot, etc.).

The attractive yellow- and blue-labelled bottle has carried the “Monopole” trademark since the mid-19th century. The “Blue Top” ribbon signifies a three-grape cuvee dominated by Pinot Noir (70%). (Heidsieck’s “Silver Top” cuvee is Chardonnay dominant.)

This is an elegant, pale gold-colored Champagne. The tiny bubbles looks so beautiful in a crystal flute that you just might want to hold it up to the light and watch the brilliant starbursts for awhile. On the palate it’s even better. Frothy, citrusy, electric and impossible to ignore a refill or two.

Check out Heidseick Monopole in New Hampshire where it’s on sale for $34.99.

Veuve Clicquot Champagne Brut “Yellow Label”, France, SRP: $57 – Madame Veuve (Ponsardin) Clicquot defied the odds when she took over the Clicquot Champagne house following her husband’s untimely death in 1805. She was 28 years old. The rest is extraordinary history, as Madame Veuve invented new production techniques that elevated Champagne’s excellence and cemented the drink’s worldwide reputation.

Veuve Clicquot is known for its clean, crisp mouthfeel, almond-infused flavor and creamy mousse. It comes in an attractive bright orange-colored gift box – the same color as the bottle’s label (OK, I guess there’s a yellow tint to the color). If luxury is on the menu, Veuve Clicquot deserves a star-studded spot.

New Hampshire is selling Veuve Clicquot for $50 a bottle while quantities last.

Domaine Chandon Brut Prestige Champagne, California, SRP: $23; Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut Champagne, California, SRP: $24 – I’ve combined these choices because they represent two of the best, lower cost options from the Carneros/Sonoma Valley region. The fruit is outstanding and both sparklers use select Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes in the respective blends. I’ve visited both wineries in the past and give their teams high marks for producing classy, distinctive American bubblies at affordable prices. The bottles are attractively packaged too, making Chandon and Gloria Ferrer wonderful table-setters for casual parties and fine dining celebrations.

JJ Vincent Cremant de Bourgogne Brut, France, SRP: $30 – What makes Vincent Cremant so interesting is its apple flavors that emerge from 100% Chardonnay grapes grown in southern Burgundy’s Maconnais region. The fruit here is riper and richer than in the Champagne region (where mineral, nutty and citrusy notes prevail), and this sparkling wine captures a strong sense of place in the final product.

Fresh, bubbly and textually soft, JJ Vincent Cremant is an appealing beverage that is selling at several local outlets for less than $23 a bottle.