Dom, Veuve. Perfect toastables if your '09 funds have lingering residuals for the French, bubbly and decadent. Not so perfect if you're looking for something to squeeze into your budget.
So, what's the alternative for revelers looking to keep it at or under 20? Sparkling wines. Wines produced using various grapes (usually a blend of two), carbonated via a carbon dioxide infusing process, either by traditional Champagne method (who said copying was off limits? It's like Jimmy Choo for H&M — if the shoe fits), the Charmot method or straight up carbon dioxide injections. In France, they are known as Cremants, in Italy, Proseccos, in Spain, Cavas, and in the USA, it's kind of whatever we new world wine rebels name it. Some, except wineries dedicated to vinicultural judiciary systems, actually pirate the name champagne. Shhhhh. See, the namesake Champagne relates to it's place of origin, which is only found in one place; Champagne, France.
Point being, Champagnes are not the only cremant de la crème. Sparklers from outside of the region, not allowed to be called Champagne technically, can be just as fantastic. There are plenty of sparkling alternatives (sparklernatives?) worthy of drinking, craving and ringing in the New Year. Sparklernatives also make for a great conversation piece. Like, “so, did you know that Albuquerque is producing great wines these days?” (see Venokado's suggestions below) And, at the end of the day, aren't we all just looking to achieve a good, easy “buzz.”; scientific research has proven that bubbles do in fact intoxicate more quickly.
Take a look at the following suggestions from a few local shops that know their bubbly stuff. Proof that drinking reasonably priced, great tasting, celebratory effervescence is within reach.
Venokado carries Gruet Brut from New Mexico, made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Earthy, biscuity and lemony with a gorgeous bubble, it's a good deal for $17. For $19, you can get a pear a la mode taste in a creamy, brut Vintage Prosecco by Antica Quericia Matiu.
At City Sip LA grab a Cava from the Penedes region of Spain, that sips and tastes just like true Champagne for $20. For something really unique though, try The Chook, a red sparkler made with Shiraz.
K & L Wines offers some Frenches with great value; a fresh, crisp and appley Cremant de le Mioux and a rich, berry-flavored Louis Bouillot Cremant de Borgogne Rose, both for $13. 99.