Unlike most restaurants which match wine to food, Coral Gables, Florida’s Uvaggio flips the switch, pairing its New American small plates to wine whiz Heath Porter’s mostly European bottle selects. Wine is divided into sections like “Wacky Juice That Probably Only I Will Drink” and “Light and Sassy,” and naturally there’s a “Bubbles” division, too. Below, Porter offers suggestions on how to drink great bubbles on a budget.
Q: I know most people drink sparkling wine rarely, and primarily for occasions. However, it is my favorite kind of wine and I am happy to drink it on Tuesday. But because so many people see it as a splurge, it’s hard to find good, affordable ones that are delicious with Thai takeout. What are some good everyday sparklers under $25 or so? I know that Cava, Prosecco, etc. are going to be cheaper than Champagne, but I feel like they can often be cloying or poor-quality, especially in that price range. If it helps, I’m also open to sparklers that are non-traditional, like rosé or Lambrusco.
I’m a bubble butt too, so I get your issues with Champagne prices but refuse to lose the fizz fight. I like to stick with France for their style but choose to go with Crémants, sparkling wines produced in the same way as Champagne but from other regions. Crémant de Loire, Crémant du Jura, Crémant d’Alsace and on and on. I’m a big fan of Antoine Muller, which you should be able to find under 20 bones. Perfectly juicy and alive you can find it in blanc de blanc and also rosé. Insider tip, the blanc de blanc is killer with pizza, rips right through the fatty melted cheese and little bit of oily richness that makes great pie great.
Another fave is Ktima Tselepos “Amalia” from Greece. It’s made from an indigenous grape there called moschofilero and has a hint of residual sugar, which makes it awesome with your spicy Thai food and has great acid to cut through the richness of coconut milk-based curries.
One huge mistake a lot of people make is also not looking under their own noses. Juice is being produced in all 50 states and sure it’s throwing darts on some levels but there are a lot of good sparkles out there. Old school somm favorite out of New Mexico is Gruet from 4,500 feet elevation (lots of ass kicking bubbles and usually under 20 bucks for their non-vintage), but also Mawby in Michigan, Chateau Frank, blanc de noirs from New York and a personal love is Veritas “Scintilla” made from chardonnay in Afton, Virginia, around 30 clams.