About 40% of all sparkling wine sales in the U.S. take place in the last six weeks of the year - the holiday season. And Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, of Wall Street Journal's "Wine Notes," have a suggestion for you in every price range:
Under $10. Cava from Spain. They especially like Cristalino Brut, but Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut, Segura Viudas Brut Reserva and Marquès de Gelida are also good bets.
$10 to $15. Gruet from New Mexico or Chandon from California. Chandon has been their house bubbly for many years.
$15 to $25. At this price range, they'd look for California bubbly: Scharffenberger Cellars, Roederer Estate Brut or Mumm Napa Valley "Brut Prestige."
$25 to $35. In their blind tastings over the years, they've found that if you look for "Heidsieck" on the label, you'll do well. They're continually impressed by Heidsieck & Co. Monopole Blue Top Brut, Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve and Piper-Heidsieck.
$30 to $60. At this price, you can try some of the high-end domestic bubblies, though these can sometimes be hard to find. Look for DVX by Mumm Napa, Roederer Estate L'Ermitage, Iron Horse Classic Vintage Brut, Gloria Ferrer Royal Cuvée Brut and Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs. Schramsberg, by the way, is a storied name in American bubbly and if any of your guests know wine, this can't miss. (Schramsberg's slightly sweet and floral Crémant is our favorite dessert bubbly, which would be a delicious surprise for your guests after dinner.)
$100 and up. If you're going all-out, their favorite "prestige Champagne" is Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill. They know that some people will turn to Dom Pérignon or Louis Roederer Cristal because they have such special status; that's fine because they're not just fashionable, but they really do taste special, too. A big favorite among serious wine-lovers is Bollinger R.D., which has been one of their favorites for many years, but beware that it is fuller and more serious than most and can even taste somber. Still, if a serious wine-lover is on your guest list, this is sure to impress.