Bubbly is both festive and versatile, not to mention perfect for ringing in the New Year. But don’t be intimidated by the hefty price tags on Champagne.
Put that orange label back on the shelf and for the same money, snap up two or three bottles of quality sparkling wine from other locales. See our selections below for hints about specific sparkling values.
Don’t Pay For The Zip Code
Champagne is not so much a wine, but a region in France, to the north of Paris. The very best bubbly is made there, and the price reflects that. Thankfully, quality sparkling wine is made worldwide, and if you shop smartly, you’ll know how to land the best bang for your bubbly buck. Whether it’s dry (Brut), semi-dry (Demi-Sec, Extra Dry), or downright sweet (Spumante, Doux) that you’re after, countless affordable bottlings are there for the taking from conscientious retailers.
Serve In Style
Sparkling wine is the only type of wine that should be enjoyed well chilled. When using an ice bucket, remember to add water to the ice for a full-on, rapid chill. Before submerging the bottle, carefully remove the cage that protects the cork, and while holding the cork firmly with one hand, turn the bottle with the other. Ease the cork out as you continue the rotation, being careful not to let the cork “pop”—it should sound more like a muted burp. Once open, holding the bottle on a 45 degree angle for a few seconds will reduce the chances of the wine foaming over. Serve in flutes: tall, slender glasses designed to control the release of bubbles.
Dress Up The Drink
Although bubbles are delicious unadorned, they welcome traditional as well as fashionable additions to increase interest among non-sparkling enthusiasts. The classic combos include Mimosas (made by adding orange juice), Kir Royale (add a dribble of Cassis), and Bellinis (blending with fresh peach puree and peach juice). To be au courant, try adding ginger brandy, amaretto, or pomegranate juice to your flute.
Bubbly Is Food-Friendly
Sparkling wine goes with just about everything. Start out your evening with a glass of rich Spanish Cava served with goat cheese and pesto on crostini. Move on to a Blanc de Blanc (made from only white grape varieties, typically Chardonnay) alongside a starter of shrimp cocktail ... or since it’s New Year’s, splurge for the lobster! Choose a sparkling rosé to stand up to your entrée of roast chicken with roasted mushrooms, then sip a Moscato d’Asti paired with poached pears for dessert while ringing in the new year. Finally, open a Prosecco with your New Year’s Day brunch….it’s perfect with eggs!
Keep an eye open for these five inexpensive, yet festive, picks:
Segura Viudas Cava Brut Reserva NV (Non-Vintage), Spain ($9)
Veuve de Vernay Brut NV, France ($9)
Terrazzo Prosecco Extra Dry NV, Italy ($11)
Gruet Blanc de Blancs NV, New Mexico ($14)
Sergio Grimaldi Moscato d'Asti '09, Italy ($14)