Keep two things in mind when you pick a Champagne or sparkling wine for this week's festivities. First, bubbly has a language of its own, where extra dry means sweeter than dry and brut is the word for dry. Our sparkling wine glossary explains all, and the 2009 New Year's post explained the difference between the world's various sparkling wines.
Second, enjoy sparkling wine more than once a year. Please? The Wine Curmudgeon has never understood why Americans drink such nice wine once a year. It's food friendly, which should not be surprising since most of it is made with chardonnay and pinot noir, perhaps the two most food-friendly grapes. It's fun to drink, what with all those wonderful bubbles, and it tastes good. And how often do I say something tastes good? More, after the jump:
• Charles de Cazanove Champagne Brut NV ($50, sample): These days, $50 is not an expensive bottle of Champagne. That reality makes the Cazanove a reasonable value, especially if you want to step up in quality. it's dry and crisp, with a touch of red fruit and what the Champagne geeks call brioche -- sweet yeastiness, for lack of a better term.
• Chateau Ste. Michelle Brut NV ($11, purchased): There is some sweet apple fruit that might not appeal to everyone, but otherwise this is everything it should be. The bubbles, fine and delicate, are amazing for a wine at this price.
• Toad Hollow Risque NV ($15, sample): Sweet bubbly made using the less common methode Ancestrale, where there is only one fermentaton instead of two. That means low alcohol and more sugar, which makes it sparkling wine for people who only drink sweet wine. And the rest of us should enjoy it, too.