I guess because it starts off with a mighty pop! and jolting effervescence to match our hopes, promises, and dreams for the new year, there is no doubt that Champagne is the invigorating and erotic bubbly, the legendary drink of the elite, and the undisputed quality sparkling wine.
Hey! it’s the New Year, so gather around as we celebrate that midnight moment—if we haven’t done so already, with a great bottle of bubbly!
Yeah—there’s Champagne which (“internationally decreed” ) can only be produced in the Champagne region of France. The rest of the world calls it Sparkling Wine and the nickname of “Sparklers!”. Whether white, red, rosé, sweet, very sweet, dry, extra dry, brut (the driest possible) who doesn’t like the warm giddy feel at the prospect of a glass of it to toast and celebrate.
So hows about that enticing build-up: Some wish to get into the action and grab the bottle with vigor—some shy a bit away and just want to watch; then there’s the ritual of peeling back the golden or silver foil—can you rip it off like ribbon? Or do you claw?
One needs to be a bit attentive when untwisting the wire cage as the cork can already be unsettled—you don’t want a premature shock before the stroke of the New Year! Or how about those who like playing Errol Flynn or Casanova by using a saber to lope off the cork! It’s the latest craze and I’m certain you’ll see some crazy footage on YouTube.
Finally the sight and sound of popping the cork at the New Year! lets everyone know that something wonderful has just happened – or is about to. May the Lord continue to bless us!
Practical Tips: Never open a bottle until it’s already chilled—around 42 degrees. Opening a room-temperature bubbly and then chilling it robs the wine of some of the precious bubbles.
Best to place a towel over the cork, loosen the wire while keeping pressure on the cork, and then with the bottle pointed away from people and breakables, slowly turn the bottle to loosen the cork.
It’s a cheap bottle of bubbly to use when you want that celebratory loud pop and that excess froth and foam. With fine bubbly, a loud pop is bad form. One wants to slowly slide the cork out of the bottle with a subtle hiss. Easier said than done sometimes!
Flutes are nice with their sleek sexy shape providing views of ascending bubbles that are fun, festive and mesmerizing, but many experts prefer a standard size tulip glass since it allows for the fruit aroma to be accessed more easily. If you’re having an expensive sparkler, you may wish to consider using a regular wine glass so to capture properly all those complex flavors which a skinny flute will not deliver.


So the problem—if there is a problem—with Champagne is that you’re going to pay at least $30 a pop for anything that comes close to true “French” taste. In this case—and it’s great news—you’ll want to pick up the NV (non-vintage) Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne Brut. It was “best in show” in the Champagne/sparkling wine category this year at the San Francisco Int’l Wine Competition. I agree: it’s the best French bubbly for the price. Found at most supermarkets, I saw it over at Pavilions in Rancho Mirage.
There is some great Champagne out in the world right now—which have a combination of freshness, richness, delicacy, seductiveness, and raciness, and a gently stimulating strength that no sparkling wine from anywhere else has yet achieved. But—it’ll be a major treat i.e., major coin!
You can pick up that very tasty & “so chic” Crystal from Louis Roederer for around $200, but if you’re desiring a fabulous French Champagne for around the same price look for:
· 1997 Champagne Salon Blanc de Blancs Le Mesnil: Drink this wine, see Naples and die;
· 1998 Krug Champagne Brut: Ask any true Champagne aficionado and they will tell you Krug is always one of the best in the world;
· 1995 Pol Roger Champagne Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill: Made from same vineyards & style that Sir Winston loved—you may love it as well—prepared to be spoiled.
· 1999 Bollinger Grande Année: “Vibrant complexity drives this wine, one of the best from the ’99 vintage.” Wine Spectator (this one’s only $125)
The beautiful 2000 Dom Pérignon Rosé is one the best rosé Champagnes in the land. For a Rosé drinker, this one is on their “bucket list”. But it’s around $400 bucks. For around $28, the California NV Roederer Estate Brut Rosé Anderson Valley really strives to match its French parent company’s “French Terroir” style; probably the best California rosé sparkler for the price.
CIAO! TUTTI! Hey everyone! It’s New Year’s Eve, Italian style, over at Johnny Costa’s Ristorante, 440 Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, where Chef Vince Costa, son of the patriarch, Johnny Costa (who was Frank Sinatra’s private chef) will be serving up a four-course pre-fixe menu at $42 or $59. They’ll have a bottle of Prosecco for only $20. And there’ll be New Year’s Eve favors if you stay for the countdown. Call for details and reservations (760) 325-4556.
Santé and Cheers to all!


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