The holidays are coming! Your family or friends arrive - or maybe they don't - maybe YOU are the family and there's no big crowd! All scenarios apply :)
I immediately think of sparkling wine to start any gathering. It gives an air of celebration and is something you might not have all the time (kudos if you do!). Sparkling wine goes particularly well with foods you might serve as appetizers.
Pair sparkling wines with light and crispy potato chips, nuts, charcuterie/cured meats, hard cheeses, seafood, oysters, smoked salmon, sausage balls, pigs in a blanket, almost any dip.
Bubbles + salt = happy taste buds.
Are you missing Champagne flutes/coupes?? No problem.
What I've found is that - in Champagne (the mecca of sparkling wine)- they use one type of glass that looks more like a small white wine glass than any champagne flute or coupe I've ever seen. In Loire Valley - they use another completely different style of glass for all their wines (red-white-sparkling). In Burgundy/Bourgogne, yet another style glass for everything. Guess what? It all tastes wonderful in every glass. So if you have glassware for each wine type - go for it. If you do not - use what you have and I bet no one will complain because they will be drinking something delicious!
Sparkling wine does not have to be expensive. Read this and this to guide you a bit. The wines below are listed in order of most to least expensive. Of course there are exceptions, but in general you would expect to pay more for Champagne than for Asti. Any of the below can be used as a welcome / party starter with any of the foods listed above.
Champagne - When you want to splurge. It will be fabulous. Try the less popular brands that you might not recognize. Talk with someone at your local wine shop - they would love to promote options for the more unique (and often best value for the $$) Champagne makers!
Crémant - My go-to for a nice, but not too expensive, bottle of sparkling wine. I enjoy these as much as Champagne! They are produced the same way as Champagne - but from different regions, using different grapes.
Cava - Spanish sparkling wine. If you are purchasing at a grocery store and looking for something dry (not sweet) or looking not to spend too much this is the best option. These are the best value for your money in my opinion.
Prosecco - We're now in Italy and enjoying one version of their sparkling wine. Affordable and easy to find, this one is always a crowd pleaser!?
Asti Spumante & Moscato d' Asti - If you like sweet wines - these will be a good choice. Asti Spumante is more bubbly and Moscato d'Asti is a subtle sparkler. Try to find a good little local wine shop and you'll be much happier with your options.
What if you aren't a sparkling wine fan??
I recommend trying it with food. It can make a big difference to have a bite of something - then a sip of a wine to go along with. If you have only purchased a sparkling wine on the fly at the supermarket in the past - try asking someone at a wine shop to recommend one. Tell them what you disliked in the past and which wines you DO like. It is worth the trouble to find one you will enjoy:)
If that is not a winner - then let's try other wines...
Alternatives to sparkling wine
-Crisp, light-bodied wines go well with appetizers. Remember that sparkling wine is nothing more than a good-quality wine that has gone through a process to make it sparkly. So - try some of the white wines that might give the same effect with no bubbles.
-Go for unoaked white wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis or dry, unoaked Chardonnay, dry Riesling, White Rioja, Txakoli
-If you hate all white wine:, try some lighter rose or red wine options. Rosé, Pinot Noir from Europe or Oregon, Beaujolais, or a sparkling red called Lambrusco
-If all else fails - serve what you like or what you know your guests will like. Taste is so personal and we can use the baseline of classic recommendations but that doesn't mean you can't try your own experiments and come up with a new combo.
What are you planning to serve when your guests arrive?