If you are like most people, you will be drinking bubbly. In a sea of sparkling, the song’s question should actually be asking: What bottle are you popping for New Year’s…? Here’s a quick primer for those of you who may find your eyes glazing over when approaching the over 100 different options available in our sparkling aisle.
Set the scene:
Determine how many people you will be serving. If you are hosting a bash and you aren’t flush with cash, look to regions outside true French Champagne. There are fantastic, affordable bottles from Spain (Cava) and Italy (Prosecco), as well as delicious offerings from Germany and Austria (Sekt), non-Champagne French regions (Cremant), and sparkling wine from California, Washington, Oregon, and even New Mexico that don’t reach the astronomical price tag of Champagne. Try to think of sparkling wine as similar to real estate. The location determines the price.
If you are looking for dry, then select a bottle with the word ‘brut’ or ‘extra brut’ on the label. If you wish for a bit of sweetness, then you want the label to read ‘extra dry,’ which seems completely wrong.
The full range from dry to sweet goes:
Extra Brut -> Brut -> Extra Dry -> Demi Sec -> Sec
Arm yourself with that bit of knowledge and feel confident that you’ve cracked at least one code in the wine world.
Grower vs. Grandes Marques:
If you are splurging on true French Champagne, you can opt for one of the well-known brands, known as Grandes Marques, such as Veuve Clicquot, Roederer, Moet & Chandon, and so on. Large in scale and production, they make their name with the NV (non-vintage) bottles that have a similar style year after year. Smaller amounts of Vintage, Rosé, and Reserves that show more variation are produced as well. Due to the production size of these houses, they often purchase grapes from growers in the region.
Then there are Grower Champagnes, on the opposite spectrum from Grandes Marques, which are small, often family-owned estates that own the land, grow the grapes, and make the wine. Production is tiny and often more varied even in non-vintage bottles. You may not know their house name because Growers don’t have marketing departments beyond the few champions of this style. Surdyk’s is proud to be a voice for these delicious wines. We have one of the largest selections of Grower Champagnes in the Midwest.
So now that you have a handle on what you’ll be opening, let’s talk about what you will serve with it.
While New Year’s Eve might be spent dancing and drinking without specific pairing in mind, it should be noted that sparkling wine is a tremendous food partner. Your bottle of bubbly will go with anything salty, creamy, crunchy, or fatty. Deviled eggs, sushi, lobster, caviar, double/triple cream cheeses, popcorn, potato chips, fried chicken, truffles, mushrooms… the list goes on and on. Perhaps the New Year’s resolution should be to drink bubbly more often?