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Bargain bubblies Here are six very good choices
Bottles of champagne including: Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut, Mumm Napa Brut Prestige, Scharffenberger Brut Mendocino, Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava, Piper-Heidsieck Brut, and Taittinger La Francaise Brut

Tough times don't mean that you need to skip the bubbly on New Year's Eve. We've listed six very good choices: four sparkling wines for $20 or less and two Champagnes that are a bit pricier. (Strictly speaking, Champagne must be made in the Champagne region of France, using that area's grapes and according to local regulations.)

Our most recent tests were in 2007, but sparkling wines and Champagnes rarely bear vintage years, and producers aim for consistency. Whatever your choice, buy from a high-volume store with quick turnover to better your chances of getting a fresh bottle.

Sparkling wines

Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut

(California), $20. Classic fruity, yeasty aromas; red-berry notes.

Mumm Napa Brut Prestige

(California), $20. Classic fruity, yeasty aromas.

Scharffenberger Brut Mendocino

(California), $20. Fruity, toasty; a bit less intense than most in this test.

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava

(Spain), $10. Appealing, but light flavors; very crisp.


Piper-Heidsieck Brut

France), $42. Crisp, well balanced, toasty; less fruit than most in this test.

Taittinger La Franšaise Brut

(France), $45. Mature; toasty, yeasty, fruity aromas.

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