I can remember, during my elementary school years, my Mother throwing a fun filled New Year’s Eve party almost every year. The room was overflowing with confetti filled balloons that were to be popped when the clock struck midnight. Adults had highballs while us kids had a virgin holiday punch. Although the gathering was served buffet style, stacks of holiday china and silverware were laid out before the trays of delicious home cooked food. I inherited my Mother’s belief that nothing dulls the luster of the season than paper plates, plastic utensils and cups. I’m not judging if you do….BUT….even if you don’t have crystal or china, use regular dishes and glass stemware - trust me, the night will feel more special. As I digress, on the other side, were etched champagne coupes lined on an inlay wood tray ready to be filled just before the countdown. Early in the evening, we would play tombola (Italian bingo) and of course, Guy Lombardo was on TV! What fond memories!
So as we approach the last few hours of 2012, we are all thinking of how we will be spending our moment as the ball drops. I will most likely spend a quiet evening at home, with the TV on but If you are entertaining, you may want to have a bottle or two of bubbly on ice ready to cheer in the new year.
Which is your choice of bubbly?
Champagne, made since medieval times, is the king of sparkling wine and is the proper name given to sparkling wines from the Champagne region of France and is composed almost always from chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes. It typically has a dry, complex flavor.
While some countries regulate the use of the name, Champagne, others continue to allow sparkling wine produced in other places to guise under the noble title. So if champagne is what you seek, check the bottle; if it doesn’t say that it’s made in Champagne, France, it isn’t Champagne.
Italy is well known for sparkling wines like proseco and Asti spumante.
Asti (Asti spumante) is made from the super sweet moscato bianco grape (as is Moscato d’Asti – less sparkling, “frizzante”) and even though sweet wines tend to be high in alcohol content, Asti is relatively low, about 12% by volume. Due to the sugar content in the grape, these wines go perfectly with fruit and cheese platters or heavy cakes.
Prosecco is the name of an Italian grape and the sparkling wine it creates. Prosecco is noted for its slightly bitter aftertaste and naturally dry essence. Serve cold.
Cava was invented during the dreadful plague that destroyed much of the European grape vines in the 19th century, using hardy strains of white grape. Cava is available in dry, medium or sweet varieties.
It is best to drink sparkling wine in a champagne flute, especially with the current trend of dry wines. The long narrow glass helps develop and concentrate the bubbles and allows the aroma and flavor to travel up to the nose and palette.
Although, I do prefer the more decorative look of the Champagne coupe or saucer which is a shallow, broad bowl like, stemmed glass. Today, they are more commonly for drinks like the daiquiris or to impress guests with a champagne tower. The glasses are stacked high, like a pyramid, and champagne is continuously poured into the top glass, trickling down to fill every glass below. According to legend, Louis XVI had the glass shaped from the left breast of his beloved wife, Marie Antoinette. Although my romantic side wishes it true, it is not. The glass was designed especially for champagne in England in 1663, almost a century before our adored notorious queen.
Sparkling wine is undeniably a party drink that adds a level of fun and tradition to any celebration.
Drink responsibly, be safe and Happy New Year/