Champagne, real Champagne from the Champagne region of France est très chère — it’s very expensive. In my experience, Champagne priced under $50 is money down the drain. New baby? Huge career promotion? Yeah, fork out the cash and buy the good stuff, otherwise don’t bother.

The good news is that there are heaps of inexpensive and equally satisfying alternative sparkling beverages. November is a great time for consumers to stock up for holiday occasions as sparkling wines, seasonal ciders and beers start taking up retail shelf space. When it comes to Thanksgiving feasts or any kind of festive seasonal gathering, bubbles, especially low-alcohol bubbles, are an essential offering to your guests.  

Low alcohol in wine speak is anything under 13 percent. Consider Prosecco (Italy) and Cava (Spain). Both of these common sparkling imports typically clock in around 11 percent.  Most are produced in the brut (dry) style and are refreshing, citrusy and pair well with just about everything. On the other hand, if you want to spend a bit more, I suggest going hyper-local with Briceland Winery’s Brut. Produced from Humboldt County grown grapes, it’s a beauty and fairly priced at around $34 per bottle.

Hard ciders are also mostly low alcohol, like craft beer they run in the 5 to 7 percent range. Here’s a product that’s exploding on the Humboldt County, California scene with great gusto. I highly recommend Wrangletown Cider Company of Arcata and Eureka’s Humboldt Cider Company.

Wrangletown bottles their bone-dry fizzies in 750 ml bottles sporting busy, quirky, Dr. Bronner-like labels. Humboldt Cider’s creations are available at a few local watering holes as well as at their tasting and production space located at Redwood Acres Fairgrounds. Good news — they recently debuted their mini-growler program. Buy the 750 ml jug for $5 and fill (and refill) for $8.  

I recently spoke with Tom Hart of Humboldt Cider and they just released a batch of These Nuts, which is a fall and winter seasonal treat that delivers a joyful, maple-pecan sleigh ride.  

Written by Pam Long

Pam Long is a wine educator, consultant and writer. Consider a career in the Wine and Beverage industry and earn your Wine Studies Certificate through HSU’s eLearning and Extended Education. Email Pam:


Emerald contributor since March 2012


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