A bubbly new year...for less!

As France's champagne producers have endlessly reminded us, to be a true champagne, a sparkling wine must originate in the Champagne region of France. Unfortunately, "real" champagne doesn't come cheap, and the inflated dollar has driven the price up even further. On the bright side, even if you don't want to spend a small fortune on carbonated wine from France, there are numerous other options for welcoming the New Year. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions for the perfect drink for beginning a fun and thrifty 2009!

Prosecco: A dry, carbonated Italian wine, Prosecco combines the fizz of champagne with the fresher flavors of summer. With its clear overtones of melon, lemon, almonds, and honey, it offers a bright, sunny taste that contrasts nicely with falling temperatures. Best of all, it is not nearly as well known as champagne, which translates into a lot more holiday cheer for a lot less money.

Lambic: Although officially a beer, lambics use natural yeasts to produce a clean, slightly tart flavor that is far more reminiscent of wine. While basic lambics have a rich, exciting taste, the ones flavored with fruits are far more intense and festive. Regardless of whether you choose raspberry, peach, blackcurrent or cherry, it is sort of like a slightly more sophisticated Kier Royale. Best of all, at under $10 per bottle, it is a delicious and reasonably priced tipple!