A Bubblicious New Year
Why do I love this wine? Because it’s impossible to be in a bad mood while drinking a glass of bubbly. Just try, I dare you. Pop the cork, fill your glass with the fizzy liquid and as the bubbles race to the top, can’t you feel your mood rise? You’ll be smiling by the time that glass reaches your lips.
Whether it’s prosecco from Italy, sekt from Germany or French champagne, drinking a glass of bubbly reminds us of celebrations and happy times.
For hundreds of years, sparkling wine has inspired passion, laughter, creativity and birth. This glass of liquid satin shot through with millions of bubbles is the same magical elixir that fascinated and frightened early French winemakers.
Marilyn Monroe bathed in it, Napoleon Bonaparte drank champagne in victory and defeat, Cole Porter sang about bubbly as a metaphor for love, and super spy 007 has always kept Bollinger on ice as one of his most potent secret weapons.
I started my website The Bubbly Girl and wrote a sparkling cocktail book called The Bubbly Bar because I wanted people to enjoy these amazing sparkling wines more often. Any time you open a bottle of bubbly, it's like uncorking a celebration, even if it's a Tuesday night or a party of one.
And isn’t finding joy and sparkle what life is all about? Sparkling wine is liquid mood tonic; why not share it with friends and create some group ecstasy?
Bubbles From Anywhere & For Every Budget
Who wouldn’t want to be able to stock her refrigerator with nothing but Krug Grande Cuvée, Dom Perignon and Cristal?
Champagne — which comes only from the region of France called Champagne — is the most famous sparkling wine in the world. But there’s lots of delicious sparkling wine from all over the world. And it doesn’t have to be expensive to be good.
When it comes to mixing, it makes much more sense to choose a wine that costs $10 to $15. These are some of my favorite winemakers in that price range:
Graham Beck from South Africa, Gloria Ferrer from Sonoma County, Domaine Chandon from Napa, Segura Viudas from Spain, Bouvet-Ladubay Cremant from France, Gruet from New Mexico and Domaine Ste. Michelle from Washington State and Zonin, which makes prosecco in Italy. All of these producers make sparkling wines that are great for drinking on their own or in cocktails.
What to Eat With Bubbly
Sparkling wine is good for more than toasts and cocktails; it’s actually one of sommelier’s best-kept secrets for pairing with all kinds of foods.The czars of Russia and the royalty in Edwardian England loved to host elaborate meals paired with a different champagne for every course.
Brut-style sparkling wines are delicious with expensive foods like caviar and lobster, but a high-low combo of buttery popcorn or salty French fries with champagne can be just as magical. Sparkling wines have a great natural acidity that makes it a great foil for so many foods.
Thinking of serving mini lamb chops, smoked salmon, wild mushroom tarts? Try a sparkling wine made with pinot noir, like a blanc de noirs. Shellfish and chicken are especially good with chardonnay-based wines.
For spicy foods or salty ones like prosciutto ham or blue cheese, choose a sweeter wine like Moscato d’Asti, brachetto or demi sec. And If you want to pair dessert with a sparkling wine, be sure to choose one that’s sweeter than the food.
Bubbly gets even more fun when you mix it with fine spirits, seasonal fruits and herbs to make sparkling cocktails.
Here are a couple great tips for ways to mix things up — and escape getting stuck behind the bar all night.
Select a signature cocktail and serve it throughout the evening. One of my favorites this year is the Ginger Spice, a combination of 1 ounce ginger liqueur with 2 ounces of your favorite tangy red juice — think pomegranate, cranberry or hibiscus. Top it with bubbly and a slice of candied ginger. It’s easy to create a non-alcoholic version by mixing up juice and sparkling water with a couple slices of candied ginger.
If you're hosting a New Year's Eve party, guests are sure to show up with a bottle of a brut sparkling wine or champagne in hand. As delicious as this crisp and citrusy wine can be, after a few hours of drinking the same thing, it can get a bit monotonous.
Set that bubbly in a large ice bucket and use it to create an interactive cocktail bar that lets your guests be the mixologists. Your job is to stock the bar with complimentary mixers some guests can’t make a bad drink. Start with some liqueurs like the lemon liqueur called Limoncello, a berry liqueur like Chambord and something slightly exotic like St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur. Set out carafes of lemonade, tangerine or orange juice and cranberry juice. Fill a relish tray with garnishes and additions like fresh basil and rosemary, raspberries, pomegranate seeds and slices of orange.
Then all you have to do is step back and enjoy the new ways your friends make bubbly a part of their new year.
Photo Credit: Paul Body.