The holiday that must not be named is next week. You want to buy sparkling wine. But sparkling wine, being sparkling wine, is expensive and confusing.
Not to worry. The Wine Curmudgeon is on the job, as always, looking out for everyone caught between bubbly's rock and hard place. The Bertrand ($15, sample) is sparkling wine from France that isn't made in Champagne, which is why it's one-third the price of entry-level Champagnes. Better yet, it has much more than one-third of the quality, and is a tremendous value.
It's made using the same method as Champagne, and it uses more or less the same grapes (including pinot noir, which is not common in sparkling wine made in France outside of Champagne). That's one reason why it delivers so much value; its grapes are grown in the Limoux region in the Languedoc, where land is a fraction of the price of Champagne.
This is not as simple a wine as its price would indicate; the pinot noir gives it an edge that others don't have. Look for very crisp apple fruit and an impressively long finish (lemon zest, maybe?). And you can impress everyone with your bubbly knowledge: If the wine says Cremant on the label, as this does, that means it's sparkling wine made in the traditional method but not in Champagne. Highly recommended, and sure to impress whoever needs impressing next week.