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Anna G. Larson, Published December 28 2012

Bring on the bubbly: A guide to fun drinks

FARGO – No sparkly celebration is complete without a fizzy, fun drink.

Champagne and sparkling wines are a must for the holidays, and yes, there is a difference between the two, said Nikki Berglund, wine manager at Bernie’s Wines & Liquors.

Champagne is made from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France, and only sparkling wines made from those grapes can be labeled as Champagne, she said. Everything else is considered sparkling wine.

Some sparkling wines made in California can be labeled as California Champagne, though California Champagnes are usually considered lower quality than true Champagne from Champagne.

Berglund rallied her favorite sparkly sips from France, Italy, Spain and California.

• $13, Korbel Brut.

For an affordable sparkling wine, Korbel is better than Cook’s, Berglund said. It’s crisp and refreshing, with a light citrus and fresh pear-like note in the finish.

• $13*, Freixenet cava.

Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine, and most cavas from Freixenet are a steal at about $13 a bottle. They range from very dry to sweet.

• $14, La Marca Prosecco.

Prosecco is Italian sparkling wine, and one of Berglund’s favorites. It’s lower in alcohol than other sparkling wines.

“People drink it all day in Italy,” she said. “La Marca is a really nice bottle for not a lot of money.”

La Marca Prosecco is a vibrant bouquet of apple, white peach and honeysuckle.

• $15, Risata Moscato d’Asti.

Moscato d’Asti has become really popular in the past few years, Berglund said. The semi-sparkling wine is sweet, fresh and fragrant with aromas of ripe stone fruit, tangerines and honey.

• $20, Domaine Chandon sparkling wines.

The California sparkling wine is produced in Napa Valley by renowned French winery, Moet et Chandon. The Brut Classic is soft, yet dry with complex apple and pear characteristic accented by citrus spice over notes of almond and caramel in the bouquet.

• $24, Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad Brut.

Segura Viudas is one of the tastiest, Berglund said. Its potent depth of flavor has a smoky minerality and fresh apple-skin notes. Bonus: It comes in an ornate bottle with pewter accents.

• $25 Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui.

Sweet reds and whites are the wines du jour, and Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui is a unique sparkling red wine, Berglund said.

Rosa Regale’s effervescence is softer than that of Champagne, and it offers flavors of fresh raspberries and strawberries.

E $50, Piper-Heidsieck Rose Sauvage.

Pink and pretty, this Champagne is considered affordable for true Champagne, Berglund said. It’s one of her favorites.

“In an ideal world, we’d all drink real Champagne all the time,” she said.

The vividly pink pour displays nut-tinged flavors of grilled plum, black cherry preserves, cream, toasted brioche.

• $150 and up, Armand De Brignac.

If you’re looking to impress, Armand De Brignac Champagne is loved by Oprah Winfrey and Jay-Z.

The brut (dry) version of this Champagne comes in an eye-catching opaque gold bottle. Brut Gold has a sumptuous, racy fruit character perfectly integrated with subtle brioche accents.

• Pretty cocktails are simple with Champagne or sparkling wine as the star. Berglund suggests adding pomegranate seeds and juice to a glass of sparkling wine for a festive cocktail. She’s used Chambord with raspberries, too, or Grand Marnier.

Bottom line: People can get great sparkling wines from Italy and Spain for $13 to $15. Look to spend about $30 on good California Champagne. Most Champagne will cost $50 and up.

*All prices are approximate.