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Holiday Sparkle

'Tis the season for festive wines

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The buzz this holiday season is the new fizz in town. Prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine, is not new, just the trendiest member of the sparking wine covey. Prosecco is not a bottle-fermented sparkler as is Champagne, but can still deliver a delicious ride. If you are not sure what to get for celebrating the holidays, your best bet is to find a good wine shop staffed with knowledgeable people and committed to stocking unusual options.

For those who want a good deal on a prosecco, Robert Balsley of Arthur's is recommending Foss Marai, noting, "This is an absolutely delicious, sparkling Italian wine for only $14." Another perennial favorite is the Mumm Cuvée Napa Brut NV (non-vintage) for $17. At a higher price point of the sparkler spectrum, he recommends Champagne from the house of Duval-Leroy. Founded in 1859 in the Côte des Blancs, Duval-Leroy is considered one of the ten greatest Champagne houses. And Balsley further notes that it is one of Wine Spectator's 100 great wines -- all for $30. Can't beat that. Another choice is the Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut NV for $50.

Arthur's Wine Shop, in Belk SouthPark Mall, 704-366-8610. www.arthurs-wine.com

Conrad Hunter of the Wine Shop has several holiday wines to recommend. He proposes the well rounded J. Runquist Petite Sirah 2003 ($30). He also suggests two Rieslings. The first is 2004 Dragonstone (Josef Leitz Rüdesheimer Drachenstein), which is grown in volcanic rock and hasn't been available in Charlotte for three years. The other wine is 2004 Wagner-Stempel Riesling Trocken ($23) sold in a one-litre bottle ("That's like two free glasses of wine."). For sparklers, Hunter opts for the creamy texture of Jacquesson Cuvée No 729 NV ($48). He notes that this house made the Champagne for Napoleon. Hunter also favors an Eric Solomon import, the 2002 Gramona Cava Grand Cuvée from Penedes, Spain.

The Wine Shop in Foxcroft East Village, 7824 Fairview Road, 704-365-6550.

Selecting holiday wine is dependent on pairing, according to Drew Galloway, Wine Manager for Total Wine near SouthPark. For those families having turkey or ham, he suggests a Pinot Noir (made popular by last year's movie Sideways). Galloway suggests the 2003 Adler Fels Pinot Noir from Carneros ($14). "It has a silky smooth texture and the bright fruit you expect from a California Pinot Noir." For pairing with lamb, he suggests a 2001 Barbaresco Rocca Felice DOCG ($16). Another wine from Italy he recommends is the Zefiro Prosecco, a sparkling wine that's both trendy and reasonably priced at $14. For Champagne, he recommends wine from a small house of Montaudon. Their non-vintage Brut ($28) is excellent he says, and he notes that this company has become more popular since they sponsored Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France. "Montaudon is a great value where you get every bang for the buck." For beef, Galloway recommends a great southern French red "with lots of tannins" such as Michel Gassier Les Piliers single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 ($13).

Total Wine and More, 1600 East Woodlawn Avenue, 704-295-9292.

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