Archive for December, 2010


Ring in the New Year with Sparkling Wine

Champagne is the supreme choice as a celebratory quaff for every occasion, or for many, a great all-around aperitif or companion to food.  Revelers delight in the wine’s magical bubbles as well as its centuries-old history. It is impossible to think about toasting in the New Year with fizzy soda. I bet the audible sound of popping corks will usher in 2011.  A good part of the charm of bubbly is visual, watching the continuous flow of bubbles rise to the surface of the wine, ready to tickle the tongue.  Champagne’s beautiful range of color ranges from pale to medium gold, or a delicate rosé.  Champagne struts its stuff in tall, tapered, clear flutes that enhances all the special attributes of the wine.

Sparkling wine is difficult to make and complicated to understand. Here are some ground rules to make your choice easier. Champagne and many sparkling wines fall into two general groups: Blanc de Noirs, a classic blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, produces a pale golden wine, sometimes tinged a lovely pink. Blanc de Blancs is always 100% Chardonnay.

Styles of sparkling wine depend on the amount of sugar in the wine. Brut lowest amount of sugar, making  it the most food friendly and a great aperitif. It’s probably the number one choice for New Year’s Eve. Extra Dry is a misnomer, because it’s sweeter than Brut. Sweeter Demi-sec is perfect with Asian food, chocolate, crème caramel, and other desserts.

It’s not necessary to take out a mortgage to find a great bubbly. Many countries make variations of Champagne, sometimes using different grapes. Only wine made in the small area in Northeast France can legally call itself Champagne. Even one made in America must be called  sparkling wine. Spain’s Cava, Italian Prosecco and Asti Spumante are worth a try. For reasonably priced bottles, try Mumm Napa Valley, Domaine Chandon, Freixenet, or St. Hilaire, from the Languedoc region of France is a personal favorite.

Ring in the New Year with a wish for love, health, happiness, and peace. Cheers!