Call it champagne with small c (but not in front of a European), Champagne with a capital C, bubbles, or any of its other synonyms — sparkling wine deserves to be served more than at dinner on Dec. 31, for a toast at midnight, or at brunch on Jan. 1.
The good news is that it is. Bubbly has never been better made or more affordable; call it the revolution in sparkling wine. What else do you need to know for the occasion? The Champagne and sparkling wine glossary is here, and you can check out the sparkling wine category for even more ideas.
• I’m still trying to make sense of Prosecco, the Italian sparkling wine that has become hugely popular over the past year. It’s usually sweeter than cava, California sparkling, or Champagne, and since it’s made differently, the bubbles aren’t as tight. Price can also be a problem, since there are some $15 Proseccos that taste like fizzy 7-Up. Having said that, the widely available Mionetto ($13, sample, 11%) is a safe bet — not so much sweetness that it overwhelms, with a little green apple fruit and decent bubbles.
• Regular visitors here know that Spain’s cava is one of the great cheap wines of all time, and that it’s almost impossible to go wrong no matter what you buy. The Dibon Rose ($10, purchased, 11.5%) may be even more enjoyable than the Dibon Brut, which is headed to the $10 Hall of Fame. Look for strawberry and orange peel, plus a little yeastiness. All in all, an amazing value.
• Sparkling is made throughout the world, including Oregon, where Argyle does a terrific job. The 2010 Brut Rose ($50, sample, 12.5%) is no exception, with lots of tart cranberry fruit, wonderfully crisp bubbles, and a long, clean finish. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s exceptionally well made. Weltevrede’s The Ring Blanc de Blanc Brut 2009 ($23, sample, 11.5%) is a high-quality South African sparkler that offers value along with subdued lemon fruit and refreshing acidity, perfect for a New Year’s Day brunch. And don’t overlook New York’s Chateau Frank Brut 2006 ($24, sample, 12%) — a lovely, fresh, and fruity wine from one of the state’s premier winemakers. There is even caramel and vanilla, just like Champagne, as well as almost tropical fruit.
More about New Year’s sparkling wine:
• New Year’s sparkling wine 2012
• New Year’s sparkling wine 2011
• Expensive wine 50: Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta Brut NV
• Wine of the week: Gruet Brut NV