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Sparkling wine slowly bubbles over on beer's turf

While U.S. beer sales are flat, more glasses are filling up with another type of fizzy beverage.

Sparkling wine sales are bubbling, with Moscato and Prosecco becoming popular among millennials. The hot demographic helped boost U.S. sparkling wine shipments by more than 8 percent in 2014, according to the Wine Institute.

But not just for weddings and other special occasions, an estimated 40 percent of adults are wine drinkers and are popping fizz-filled bottles for everyday moments.

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"Prosecco has seen nearly 30 percent growth for the past several years," said Ray Isle, executive wine editor of Food & Wine Magazine.

In an interview with CNBC's "On the Money," Isle said that the wine has become a hit largely because of its qualities. "It tastes light, is less bubbly and a little bit sweeter than champagne," he added.

Sparkling wine has made its way onto the dinner table, even with a regular appearance at brunch, because it pairs quite well with food, Isle said. He added rosé was another big bottled success among bubbly connoisseurs.

Most Expensive 2014- wine Romanee-Conti
Source: Sotheby's

Overall, thirsty Americans consumed 375 million cases of wine last year, Wine Institute data showed recently, helping the U.S. remain one of the world's largest wine consuming nations. During 2014, wine industry annual revenue rose to $37.6 billion.

With average wine sales swelling in the $12 to $30 range, sparkling alcohol sales are expected to continue amid a desire for more premium beverages. All of which raises a question: which bubbly bottles won't break the bank?

If drinkers seek value, perhaps something to mix for a mimosa, Isle recommends a refreshing bottle of Mionetto Brut Prosecco priced at $14.

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For something a little fancier, almost close to champagne, Isle suggests a Spanish sparkling wine—a $25 2012 Raventos I Blanc de Nit Rosé to be exact. The beverage comes from a winery southeast of Barcelona looking to raise the quality level of Spain's Cava region.

No formal event or special occasion would be complete without a champagne toast. If the famous, top vintage Champagne bottlings like Don Perignon are a budget busters, an elegant bottle of 2008 Louis Roederer Brut Champagne, priced at $80, is worth a try. Roederer is one of the greatest Champagne houses, and best known for its super-expensive tête de cuvée, Cristal.

Wine sales are also being driven by new technology solutions. Mobile wine applications are growing in popularity, with up to 36 percent of US consumers using them to check prices and reviews before purchase.

Meanwhile, buyers concerned with environmental issues are going green with eco-friendly wines. Bottles labeled as sustainable, organic, and biodynamic are slowly gaining more attention, as are wine kegs.

Despite the tasty wine trends, Isle said people should drink what they like. However, he had a word of advice for wine lovers who might use pricey sparklers to make trendy mixed cocktails.

"If you're going to mix the expensive stuff with fruit juice, then you're going to lose all what made it expensive," says Isle.


"On the Money" airs on CNBC Sundays at 7:30 p.m., or check listings for airtimes in local markets.