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Traditional holiday foods can be a minefield of controversial flavors. We’ve already survived candy corn season, cranberry sauce week, and now we’re in the midst of eggnog month.
While I happen to love all of these seasonal delicacies (especially this eggnog recipe from jazz legend Charles Mingus), many people do not. Luckily, we wrap up the holidays on New Year’s Eve with a tradition everyone can agree on: the Champagne toast.
Of course, in this day and age, there isn’t really anything we all agree on. Some of you out there do not like Champagne. I can’t understand it, but in the spirit of the holidays I want everyone to have a good time, so here are some suggestions for how the Champagne-haters can still pop some corks. So what do you drink if you don’t like champagne?
For the purposes of this list, we’ll assume that people who don’t like Champagne also don’t like Franciacorta, Cava, Cremants from other parts of France, English sparkling wine, most California sparkling wine…basically anything made in a style similar to Champagne.
Here’s what to drink if you don’t like champagne and need a champagne alternative
Rosé, but make it bubbly
The first suggestion is a bit of a cop out, but definitely give the Rosé version of Champagne-style wines a shot. Fruitier with more backbone and lower acidity, these are an easy alternative to the usual Brut Champagne. These will range in price and quality, but generally any reputable producer of Brut will offer a comparable quality Rosé.
Cin cin with Italian bubbles
If Rosé is still not your speed, look to Italy for some great Champagne alternatives. Most people are familiar with Prosecco, a lighter and brighter wine than Champagne with a more aggressive fizz and bracing acidity. Other great options include Moscato d’Asti and Lambrusco, which can both range from dry to sweet. These tend to be lower in alcohol as well, meaning you can enjoy the night longer, or hate the next morning less.
Cider, flavors for every toast
Another great option is cider. I love the traditional Basque ciders from Spain, but there are amazing ciders being produced all over the world with fruit besides just apples. A popular trend right now are cider/wine combos called “co-ferments” which can cover a dizzying array of flavor profiles. Your local natural wine shop should have a few options.
Pet-Nats for New Year’s
Right near those co-ferments, you’ll find an even larger section of sparkling wines: the Pet-Nats. Short for Pétillant Naturel, these wines are made using a method even older than Champagne. The flavor profiles of these wines can be all over the map, from lightly sweet and fruity to tannic and bitter. As with the co-ferments, you’ll want a trusted voice at your wine shop to help you choose. Lean on their advice, that’s why they’re there.
Shameless Plug Edition [we had to]
Not feeling sparkling at all? Done with champagne alternatives altogether? You do you. Have we mentioned that we have a delicious unoaked Chardonnay that feels celebratory without any of the bubbles?
Champagne of Beers
Last but not least, there’s always the Champagne of Beers. Any holiday is made better with a cold Miller High Life in your hand. After all, the only thing that really matters is that you enjoy what you’re drinking and the people you’re drinking it with.