For those of you doing your shopping on the way to a party tonight, here's some sparkling wine recommendations. Whenever you see "NV" in my reviews, it means "non-vintage", or there's no particular year ascribed to the wine--it might be a mix of multiple vintages, or it might just be an inexpensive table wine. It should not be inferred that they are produced in the state of Nevada. Also, I rarely if ever drink proper Champagne. It's more of a cost concern than anything else, but there are loads of tasty sparklers from all over the world, including the non-Champagne regions of France.
First, here are 23 previous posts that include information on sparkling wine. Most of them are great little wines, just stay away from the Soviet Champagne of Belarus. I can still taste that abomination months later.
Second, check out Fredric Koeppel's annual 12 Days of Christmas salute to sparkling wines. He's got some great bottles there and there's very little overlap in the bubbly we've reviewed.
Now for a few of my own that have been sitting in the review queue for a while...
One that can be found nearly everywhere is the NV Yellowtail Sparkling Rosé, which runs for around $7. Beautiful light salmon color, dry and crisp with raspberry aromas and flavors. The large bubbles give it a soda mouthfeel. Not as fruity as I'd imagined, and it had a slightly bitter finish I wasn't expecting (note that I love bitter flavors, and they show up from time time in all sorts of wine). I couldn't find any information on the grapes used here, but I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed this. Sparkling rosés are a growing segment of the sparkler market, and this might be easier for you to find than some of the European bottles.
Prosecco is a longtime favorite here at BWR, and increased production in Italy and elsewhere means that there are new brands to try every year. On general principles I'd avoid the Austrian one packaged in cans and promoted by Paris Hilton. Instead, why not try something like the Italian NV Martini & Rossi Prosecco. $12, a light 10.5% abv. It's got a little orange peel aroma, light bubbles in the frizzante style, and crisp lemon and almond flavors. Great bargain bottle that's conveniently enclosed with a beer bottle cap, meaning that this should be perfect for taking to parties. (A few other Prosecco and sweet Moscato d'Asti wines are capped like this--great for BBQs or other informal gatherings.)
It's not pictured here, but I'd highly recommend anything from Domaine Ste. Michelle, particularly the Blanc de Noirs. The varieties range from dry to sweet, some blends, some single grape. These are affordable, delicious sparkling wines from Washington state, and I always keep one on hand in case I need something to kick off a dinner. The voluptuous Ste. Michelle bottles can often be found for as little as $12, which is a real steal. And of course the sparkling wines of Gruet in New Mexico will always have a special place in my heart.
What will I be drinking on New Year's Eve? The Spanish NV Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad. $25, 12% abv. Penedès region of Spain. I've had it before, but I've really been in a Cava mood lately. Plus, you've got to admire a bottle that eschews the label for a metal badge. Certainly the guys from Dethklok would approve.
I hope all of you have a happy and safe New Year, and be sure to eat your black eyed peas!
P.S. In the comments, be sure to note your bubbles of choice for ringing in the New Year. Or if you went in a different direction--say the family tradition is 6 Puttonyos Tokaji--list that as well. I think my first NYE adult beverage was a sip of peach schnapps in the late 80s.