Friday, December 28, 2012

New Year’s Champagne and Party Wines

New Year’s Parties Is Bubbly & Wine Time!

It’s almost New Year’s Eve which is party time and a great time for wine, fun and champagne! It’s also a great time to reflect on the past year and the year to come. Champagne is a must for bringing in the New Year and toasting all our friends and family.

And flowing bubbles really helps us remember all that happened during the past year and realize that we are moving into a new year where anything is possible!

To start the New Year off right here are some suggestions to help you choose the right Champagne. I’m using champagne to also cover sparkling wine. 

The French consider only champagne from the champagne region to be worthy of the name. That’s great marketing but there’s no difference between champagne and sparkling wine as long as the sparkling is made in the Traditional Champagne or Classic Method. It should tell you on the bottle, if not ask because that’s the way it should be made!

When looking at Champagne it’s often hard to tell what you’re buying unless you understand the terms to describe its sweetness and its grapes.

Brut is the most common and it’s the driest wine with no sweetness. Flavors of apples and pears are often present and it goes well with food. Extra Dry is not as dry as Brut. It's sweeter with a little more fruit, making it perfect for people who don’t like dry wine but aren’t into sweet wines. Now Sec is a sweet champagne, sweeter than Extra Dry, but not dessert wine sweet. And Demi-Sec is the dessert sweet champagne.

As to the grapes, you might find yourself trying to figure out the difference between Blanc de Blanc and Blanc de Noir. The Blanc de Blanc is made from 100% white grapes, from the Champagne region that means only Chardonnay grapes. Other areas can use different white grapes but chardonnay is the best.

The Blanc de Noirs are made from black grapes and in Champagne that’s Pinot Noir or Pinot Meuier. Other regions can use other black grapes, but Pinot Noir is my choice, they’re rich and fruity. And out of all champagnes these are my favorite.  

You don’t have to pay a fortune to have great Champagne. Although I don't recommend you buy really cheap champagne unless you don’t care how you’ll feel the next day.
In the mid-price range, between $20 and $50 there are some really nice champagnes, even some that the French consider champagne.  California’s J is one of my favorite but ones from Mumm, Iron Horse, Schramsberg, Gloria Ferrer and Domaine Carneros are all very nice. I also enjoy drinking bubbly from Scharffenber ger, Chandon and Roederer.

Now if you insist on a French champagne, Perrier Jouet, Louis Roeder and my favorite Veuve Clicquot can all be found in the $45 to $65 range. 

And if you are looking for a cheaper Champagne for your party try Korbel or Gruet Brut, which is a surprisingly nice one from New Mexico. Both of these or under $15.00 and will go over well at your New Year’s Party.

You can also find information on 15 different sparkling wines in the December 26th Arts & Life section of The Dallas Morning News. Their wine panel tasted 26 sparkling wines under $35.00 and recommended 15.   

And finally New Year’s parties wines are not just Champagnes. They often require other grape libations leading up to the big toast.

For white wines try a lighter non-oak chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or a fruity non-grassy Sauvignon Blanc. And for reds serve a lighter Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.   

Remember, a party will have friends with different tastes in wine, so have both red and white wines and it’s never bad to have a variety of wines.

Your party is about friendship and celebrating the New Year with your friends and the ones you love, so don’t break your budget on the wine and always buy party wines with lower alcohol levels. You want your guests to have fun and be safe!  

                      Happy New Year!!
And Have A Great New Year’s Party!!   


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