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Toast 2011 with these well-priced sparklers

Toast the new year with a well-priced sparkler.

Toast the new year with a well-priced sparkler. Credit: AP Photo

Ready to pop a cork? Well, do it gently. You're paying for every one of those bubbles.

In case you're not opening Krug or Salon, Bollinger RD or Veuve La Grande Dame, here are some well-priced alternative sparklers.

Try prosecco, the effervescent Italian. The nonvintage Nino Franco Rustico ($18) is crisp, slightly floral, balanced. Mionetto Brut Prosecco ($15; $25, 1.5-liter), dependably fizzy and fine, is a refreshing and satisfying choice. They're ready for a toast or with food.

Cremant d'Alsace also is a comparatively economical way to bubble over. The nonvintage Lucien Albrecht Brut Rosé ($20), in particular, has a pretty hue and a delicate mousse. From South Africa comes the nonvintage Graham Beck Brut ($16), light and to the point, with a yeasty quality. Nonvintage Trapiche Sparkling Extra Brut ($13) from Argentina is mostly chardonnay, with some tropical fruit and toastiness.

And bargain hunters can seek the fresh Yellow Tail Bubbles Sparkling White and Sparkling Rosé, nonvintage options from Australia. They're about $10 each. Barefoot Bubbly Brut Cuvée out of Modesto, California, provides casual, bulk sparkling for $10. You'll find the Spanish cava, Jaume Serra Cristalino, an uncomplicated, clean, good selection, for less than $10.

Sufficiently hydrated, you can relax the day after New Year's by paging through "Opus Vino" (DK Publishing, $75), edited by Jim Gordon. It's a huge, handsomely illustrated reference, informed and informative - a gift for yourself.

And keep handy Andrea Robinson's "2011 Wine Buying Guide for Everyone" (JGR, $14.95), the ninth edition of the helpful, consumer-oriented guide.

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