Wine & Spirits

By Stef Schwalb

Ready for a rockin’ New Year’s Eve? The clock is ticking, so you better grab some bubbly and get going. Though champagne is traditionally the drink of choice for toasting, we decided to expand the playing field (and hopefully your palate) with a few additional options as well. Here’s our Top 10 sparklers (in no particular order) to help ignite your night.

Number 10… With champers being the bubbly beverage many believe won’t be a bust, one of the industry staples to consider is of course Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne Yellow Label NV. It’s a full-bodied, fruity and luxurious pick that pairs well with hors d’oeuvres and almost every food imaginable. If a mineral mouth is more your thing, number 9 – Ruinart Blanc de Blancs – rings in just right. Medium-bodied, strictly Chardonnay-based (as opposed to most champagnes that traditionally consists of three grapes: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier), the Ruinart works well with slightly richer dishes.

Number 8 sees us heading stateside to New Mexico for the Gruet Brut NV. Full, fruity and crisp this sparkling wine was created by one of France’s most renowned champagne houses that was brought to Albuquerque over two decades ago. It works well with spicy selections and seafood. Looking to make a little movie magic of your own on the last night of the year? Well, Francis Ford Coppola is most likely booked, but you can still shine in the spotlight with number seven, Sofia, a light-bodied, fruity and fresh bubbly white that comes in a fabulously festive, pretty-in-pink package. It contains four cans (complete with straws) that make party-hopping seamless and chic.

Seis is a numero we thought apropos to celebrate with a sparkling selection from Spain, Cristalino Brut Cava NV to be exact. Medium-bodied, fruity and an awesome addition to any food you can find, this wine has a toasty taste to it with hints of tropical fruits. Next, let’s head to number five with a quick trip to picture-perfect Portugal. Here we’ll find Vidigal Espumante Branco. This lovely, light-bodied bubbly is an excellent aperitif and is great way to begin and/or end your evening with citrus fruits making a marvelous mark in the mouth. For our fab number four, we say ciao to Italia with Nino Franco Rustico NV Prosecco. That’s right people, Prosecco’s not just for brunch and Bellinis. This crisp, bubbly beauty can hold its own as a hot commodity that’s a light, fruity favorite and cool choice for something less weighty on the wallet. For number three, we’re adventuring off the path and heading straight for the Rheingau in Germany with Jagdschloss Riesling Sekt Brut. We know, we know, many people misconceive Rieslings as super sweet (we’ll expand more on that in another column), but they can also be more minerally and fresh – just like this wine. It’s light with citrus and stone fruits in the nose with plenty of acidity to pucker up your palate for whatever dishes get doled out as the evening progresses.

For our final two, we’ve thrown in a couple of bubbly rosés just for fun. One is an affordable pick from Provence (Jacques Pelvas Brut Rosé NV), the other a dream champagne from Mareuil-sur-Ay (Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé NV). Both are dry, medium-bodied and fruity. The former showcases floral and strawberry attributes and provides moderation in intensity, finish and acidity; the latter offers lavish red and citrus fruits with hints of almond as well as crisp, high acidity and a luxuriously long finish. That’s it for 2011. Happy New Year All — and we’ll see you back here with plenty of new wines to take note of in 2012.

Originally published December 2011
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