The Sparkling Italian World Beyond Prosecco

There's a sparkling world beyond Prosecco

Prosecco leaped off store shelves during last year's holiday season.

This year, unknown Italian sparkling wines made from grapes other than the well-known Prosecco are being uncorked around the region.

These new imports are made from grapes–Vernaccia Nera, Lumassina, Ribolla Gialla and Lambrusco Grasparossa–that most Americans have never tried, or have only tasted as still wines.

Thankfully, these wines are a fraction of the price of Champagne. So grab a few bottles for those holiday parties and show off your serious grape knowledge.

Quacquarini Vernaccia di Serrapetrona ($25) Not one for the tongue-tied, this organic, ruby-hued bubbly is made with the Vernaccia Nera grape. It's soft on the palate with a slight sweetness, making it a good match for charcuterie and salty, hard cheeses. (

Punta Crena Lumassina ($18) This obscure wine from Liguria is a naturally fizzy sparkler that's fantastic with oysters. (

Terre Magre Ribolla Gialla Vino Spumante Brut ($19) Though Ribolla Gialla is known mostly as a still-wine grape, its bubbly counterpart is sophisticated stuff, due to a combination of the grape's natural fruit-forwardness and minerality. (

Ca' Berti Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro "Tipico" Dry ($10) Lambrusco made a comeback a few years ago when quality went up in its region of Emilia-Romagna. This low-alcohol, low-tannin bottle is fruity enough to go with spicy foods. (