Nothing quite says New Year’s Eve like a tall flute of champagne. Effervescent bubbles are the trademark of champagne, and its non-French speaking step-sib, sparkling wine. Whichever you choose for your celebration – champagne or sparkling wine – you’ll be among millions of wine lovers world wine who ring in the New Year with a popping cork and a chink-chink of flutes.
Want to do more than grab and go with the cheapest bottle of Brut you can lay your hands on? Here are some tried and true suggestions:
Keep it Southern: Biltmore Estates Wines offers a range of sparkling wines – named for the palatial North Carolina estate from which it hails. The non-vintage Blanc de Blancs is brightly acidic, with hints of lemon, green apple and under ripe pear. Those are all good things – particularly if you don’t like sweet, sweet sparklers. About $20.
Mumm’s the word: This Napa wine producer offers a large range of sparklers beginning at about $16. I’m partial to the Brut Rose – mostly due to the presence of Pinot Noir. That grape adds sweet strawberry notes and a hint of black cherry. A splash of Chardonnay in the blend adds backbone.
Budget saver: Crane Lake NV Brut leaves plenty of change from a 10-dollar bill. Lower end sparklers won’t have the character of their higher priced teammates, but if it’s just about a toast and back to the cocktails – consider a lower-priced bubbly.
Born in France, raised in America: The Gruet family has a long heritage in France’s Champagne region, but are making their mark in America with a vineyard in New Mexico. Critics are finally beginning to give this domestic made, non-vintage sparkler the attention it deserves. I’m partial to the toasty and berry-rich aromas of Blanc de Noirs, but can be lured down a sweeter path with Gruet Demi Sec. Want a sweeter sparkler, then Demi Sec is your go-to! Around $17.
In the name of detente: Iron Horse Vineyards Russian Cuvee was served at the Reagan-Gorbacheve summit credited with ending the Cold War. It was just one more accolade for this Napa Valley producer whose sparkling wines are among the most frequent wines used for toasting everything from weddings and News Year’s Eve to, well, world peace. Around $30.
Muy bueno: For something different, try Jaume Serra Cristalino. This is Cava, sparkling wine from Spain. Its grape varieties are unique to Spain and produce a wonderfully toasty aroma that leads to bright green fruit flavors and a cleansing minerality on the finish. About $10.