Sparkling wines to fuel your holiday gatherings
You can never have enough sparkling wine — in any month, let alone December. Besides New Year’s Eve, you also have Christmas, Christmas Eve, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Bodhi Day, Winter Solstice, Bette Midler’s birthday, the 200th anniversary of Illinois statehood, and probably a bunch of other important events I am leaving out.
Plus, think of all those dinners you’re going to have in December. You’re going to need some bubbles.
Wineries all around the world turn out versions of sparkling wine, using various methods to achieve their bubbles and all varieties of grape.
We all know the French place that is the gold standard for this wine style, but yes, there’s also room for other styles. If you have Champagne tastes and a Prosecco budget, you’ll find wines for you in the bottle suggestions below.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s a cliche to drink sparkling wine on New Year’s Eve. It is appropriate that night and at any other holiday or celebration you can think of. Bubbles are made for celebrating. Do it right. Make sure your sparkling wine is appropriately chilled. Smell it, drink it, let it tickle your nose, and fill your mouth with energizing fizz.
A great Iowan I once knew used to make a point of reminding guests at his table to be grateful for their good fortune — for the food, for the fellowship and for the moment, which will be gone in a flash. He lamented all of the people not fortunate enough to be with him and his people in that very moment, among stained paper plates, folding lawn chairs and Tupperware containers of food, all in the presence of the setting Midwestern sun bringing to a close yet another fine day. Hallelujah, Herman — well said, again and again.
For me, it’s hard not to wonder what other people are doing every time I have a glass of sparkling wine in my hand. I made bubbles a regular part of my life years ago, and I urge you to do the same. You don’t have to be rich to live richly. Sparkling wine helps, though — and so does gratefulness.
Below are at-a-glance notes from a recent tasting of sparkling wines in various styles, including some rosés. All of them are dry and would go well with a wide array of foods. The 20 bottles are listed in ascending order according to price, from easily affordable to indulgently extravagant.
Zonin Prosecco “Cuvee 1821 .” Fresh citrus, apricot, almond and a creamy texture, made of 100 percent glera from the Veneto region. $12
Da Luca Sparkling Rosé. Extra dry, floral, sweet fresh strawberry, nectarine, a touch of salinity and lively zapping bubbles, from Sicily. $14
2013 Juve & Camps Reserva de la Familia Cava Brut Nature Cava. Toasted nuts and red apple skin, creamy and mouth-filling, but also crisp. $20
Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs. Ripe cherry, bread crust, strawberry and lime, from the Sonoma side of Carneros. $22
Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Brut. Crisp, clean, floral and stony with tangerine, baked apple and active, expansive bubbles. $24
Roederer Estate Brut. From California’s Anderson Valley, with pear, lightly toasted brioche, fresh lime and zingy acidity. $25
Meiomi Sparkling Wine Methode Champenoise. Pear, bread crust, apricot and nuts, from the North Coast of California. $27
Jansz Tasmania Rosé. From the island of Tasmania off Australia’s southern coast, with lime, strawberry, tropical fruit and a clean finish. $29
2014 Le Marchesine Brut Saten Millesimato Franciacorta. Creamy and floral with roasted nuts, lemon, stone fruits, honey and a briny kiss, from Italy. $33
Ca’ del Bosco Cuvee Prestige Franciacorta Brut. Another traditional method (“metodo classico”) Italian wine, with lime, apple, almond, herbs and wet-stone minerality. $37
J Vineyards & Winery “Cuvee 20.” Fresh citrus, nectarine, chalky minerality and lime zest, from Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. $38
2013 Balletto Brut Rosé. Also from Russian River Valley, with tangy cherry, anise, almond paste and bright acidity. $42
Champagne Bruno Paillard Premiere Cuvee Extra Brut. Stone, lemon-lime, tangerine and cream, all of it clean and refreshing. $50
Champagne Billecart-Salmon Brut Sous Bois. Lemon, rich hazelnut and caraway, with a tangy zap of cleansing acidity. $65
Veuve Clicquot Rosé. Champagne that is floral and fresh, with ripe cherry, raspberry, brioche and mouth-watering acidity. $65
Champagne Palmer & Co. Blanc de Blancs. Bright citrus and subtle toffee, with floral notes, bread crust and delightful silky elegance. $85
Ruinart Rosé. Toasted nuts, violets, strawberry, satisfying sour cherry, softness and a clean, dry finish, from Champagne. $89
2006 Nicolas Feuillatte Palmes d’Or Brut. Vintage Champagne with notes of fresh toast, dried fruit and honey, and a slow, nutty finish. $136
2008 Louis Roederer Champagne Cristal. A wine shrouded in legend and full of green apple, lemon, fennel, wet stones and warm toast. $265
Moet & Chandon MCIII. A sublime and innovative wine that is creamy, smoky and soft with citrus, nuts and spice. $280 for 750 milliliters, $650 for a magnum