Get ready for New Years
December 14, 2007
New Year’s Eve is closely linked with champagne and the time comes every year to do a little bit of splurging. But the question is how much is really worth it? Let’s face it, how discerning is your palate really at midnight after a good solid night of drinking? Therefore, it seems that we need solutions for all the different hours of the night.
I recommend that you start with the good stuff while you can still taste it. While there are many regions of the world that can compete with France in terms of chardonnay, cabernet, and sauvignon blanc it seems that no one has yet been able to make sparkling wine on the level of champagne. Champagne is made in a painstakingly difficult environment in which there are very few hours of sunlight for a wine region and the average temperature are relatively cold. This is, however, key to the success of these wines as the lack of sunlight keeps their acid levels high and the wines bright and fresh. My pick for the season is the Jean Lallemont Cuvee Reserve for $64. It is produced from Grand Cru Vineyards in the Verzenay region in northern Champagne and thus has a crisp acidity and fresh palate with the most elegant and soft mousse you could ask for.
Throughout the night, as your ability to perceive fades away I suggest you move down the price scale. One of the very best bubbly wines for the buck is the Roederer Estate Brut Rosé for $25. This wine, from the Anderson Valley in California is made in the Method Champenoise style and produces sparkling wines using great care. The rosé is particularly smooth and clean and has really nice ripe fruit over an elegant sparkle.
As the night deteriorates even further, one’s ability to perceive great bubbly continues on its downhill slide. It is time to move to Cava. It is not my intention to insinuate that Cava is not a fine wine. In its best forms it can express crisp minerality and the distinctive characteristics of its native grape varieties, Macabeo, Xerel-lo, and Parraleda. Mostly produced in Catalonia, Spain, these wines must be made via Method Champenoise. Considering that reality it is stunning how incredibly inexpensive these wines are. For $15 the wine simply named 1+1=3 is shockingly distinctive and well balanced.
At this point of the night you probably shouldn’t drink anymore, but if you are going to a nice glass of Moscato D’Asti might be the thing that you are looking for. One of its positive aspects is that the alcohol content is only about 5-6 percent. Another positive aspect is that it is really delicious. Made in the northwestern region of Italy, this wine is considered "frizzante" or slightly sparkling. It has also retained a little bit of sweetness that makes it a great wine for lighter desserts. The ’05 Marenco Moscato D’Asti is a stellar choice for only $15.
If you actually follow this recipe for a New Year’s Eve (which will be really fun), I recommend that you take a cab.
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Zev Rovine is the sommelier and resident cheese monger at the Spotted Frog Bookstore Cafe and Wine Bar where he teaches weekly wine classes. His wine education comes from the American Sommelier Association in New York City. He tries his very best not to spill the pinot on the bestseller section. If you have any wine queries or comments, he is easily contacted via e-mail at email@example.com .