Making great sparkling wine is not complicated. It simply takes the right growing conditions and ample aging in the bottle. In fact, these days, you can find remarkably fine bubbles from all over the world -- and, in many cases, for around $20 a bottle in the same stores that you're stopping by for staples.

Since you're fresh off the holiday entertaining tornado, we're not going to make you work hard for your bubbles. This year, we won't tell you about a fabulous winery making trace amounts of sparkling wine that you'll never taste. We won't make you join a mailing list. And there won't be a test on how to decode Champagne labels.

Instead, we've done our homework to bring you the best readily available sparkling wines under $20, from cava and prosecco to award-winning domestic bubbly. Most are nonvintage, so you don't have to fret about dates. As of press time, the following 15 wines were available at BevMo, Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. Tear this list and head on over. They're waiting for you. Happy toasting.

Trader Joe's

Mumm Brut Rose (Napa Valley, CA). Fresh and lively with strawberry aromas and lush, ripe flavors of cherry and vanilla. A classic from Domaine Mumm at a great price (it's Napa, after all): $16.99.

Trader Joe's North Coast Reserve Brut. The 12 percent semillon in this classic chardonnay and pinot noir blend makes this wine a bit waxy on the finish, but otherwise it's a perfectly quaffable small-production toaster with brisk acidity and a good pour. $9.99

Domaine Chandon Brut Classic (California). Refreshingly soft, yet dry with pear and citrus notes and nutty flavors of almond brioche. Hooray for Chandon. Always. $15.99 ($12.99 at BevMo).

Gloria Ferrer (Sonoma County, CA) Brut. There's 9 percent locally grown chardonnay for crispness and vibrancy, but the rest is pure Carneros pinot noir. That's what gives this double gold medal winner its depth and lush mouth feel. Hard to beat at $14.99 ($13.99 at BevMo).

BevMo

Mirabelle Brut Rose by Schramsberg. The grapes for this stunner hail from the winery's cool-climate vineyards in Carneros, Anderson Valley, and coastal areas of Sonoma and Marin. Two years aging in the bottle produces elegant toasty aromas, bright flavors, and a lively mousse. Yum. $19.99.

Roederer Estate Sparkling Wine Brut (Anderson Valley, CA). Champagne's Louis Roederer is behind this crisp and elegant bubbly with spice-dusted pear and hazelnut flavors. Fresh and full of finesse. $18.99.

Barefoot Bubbly Extra Dry Champagne. Despite false use of the term Champagne (last time we checked, Barefoot was in Modesto), it's tough to argue with the price, given multiple gold medals in blind tasting competitions, delightful apple flavors and a smooth finish. $7.99.

Toques et Clochers Cremant de Limoux (Languedoc-Roussillon, France). This popular wedding toaster -- to those in the know -- is refreshing with incredibly fine bubbles and a mineral edge. Great finish. $19.95 (second bottle 5 cents through Jan. 6).

Domaine Ste Michelle Blanc de Noirs. Washington's oldest winery delivers this well-balanced, crisp toaster with tart strawberry flavors and clean finish. $11.99 (second bottle 5 cents through Jan. 6).

Whole Foods

Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Rose. This Spanish sparkler has alluring aromas of raspberry and cherry on the nose with fresh, clean strawberry flavors. Awarded numerous value-brand-of-the-year accolades. $7.99 (Brut cava $6.99 at BevMo).

Marques de Gelida 2009 Cava Brut Reserva. Made with organically farmed indigenous Spanish grapes, this superior vintage bubbly is lemony and herbal on the nose with tropical fruit and vanilla bean flavors. Its consistent bead is lively and makes for a long finish. We'll be drinking this. $19.99.

Gruet Blanc de Noirs. Year after year, this New Mexican sparkler delivers rich and toasty flavors, a pretty salmon color, aggressive mousse and bold fruit flavors. The current release is no exception. $16.99.

Scharffenberger Brut Excellence (Mendocino County, CA). Vanilla cream flavors give this wine a round and full-bodied appeal balanced by citrus notes. We like the hazelnut aromas, too. $18.99

De Chancery 2011 Sparkling Vouvray Brut (Loire Valley, France). A Whole Foods exclusive, this sparkling chenin blanc has a graceful, persistent pour and elegant notes of baked pineapple brioche that continue to a candied fruit finish. Impressive length. $18.99.

De Chancery Cremant de Loire Brut. Delicate and full-bodied with a fine, nervy mousse and balanced flavors of chenin blanc, chardonnay and cabernet franc. Lively, graceful, aromatic and persistent. A dead ringer for Champagne at a third of the price. $14.99.

Reach Jessica Yadegaran at jyadegaran@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/swirlgirl_jy.

Coupe versus flute
What is the optimal way to enjoy sparkling wine? Via coupe, the shallow cup supposedly molded on the breast of Marie Antoinette, or from a flute, the narrow, long-stemmed glass?

Studies repeatedly show that a coupe loses carbon dioxide at least a third faster than a flute. So unless you drink very quickly, the effervescence will dissipate, says Oakland's Maria Hunt, aka The Bubbly Girl blogger and author of "The Bubbly Bar: Champagne and Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion" (Clarkson Potter, 2009).
"It's also really easy to spill from a shallow glass," Hunt adds. "Especially on your second or third glass."
That might be why Hunt has begun enjoying her bubbly out of the big-bottomed bowls of Burgundy glasses.
"If you really want to taste the wine behind the bubbles, you should try it," Hunt says. "You can really get your nose in there and the width allows the aromas and flavors to open."
When you're out and want to feel elegant, however, Hunt says there's no match for a graceful flute.

-- J. Yadegaran

WANT MORE BUBBLES? keep some dirt
Champagne physicist Gerard Liger-Belair of the University of Reims in eastern France has studied the science of bubbly for years and has figured out, among other things, why streams of bubbles rise from certain points in a glass.
Turns out it happens when microscopic fibers -- dust or lint left from a towel -- stick to the sides and allow molecules of dissolved carbon dioxide to join forces and form bubbles.
So, if you're meticulously washing your flutes or worse, running them through the dishwasher and allowing them to heat dry upside down, you're going to get fewer bubbles.

Don't believe us? Liger-Belair's research has led top glassmakers around the globe to etch tiny spots -- yes, imperfections -- at the bottom of their glasses using lasers. When sparkling wine is poured in, bubbles are more likely to rise and dance.

-- J. Yadegaran