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S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night!

December 30, 2011

Soundtrack to today’s post can be found here.

God help us all. This year New Year’s Eve is on a Saturday night? I’m glad that I will be hunkering down with a few bottles of sparkling wine, family and some glorious traditional foods in a cozy rural Pennsylvania farmhouse.

You may feel otherwise. Some of you might be preparing a lavish feast, or have made reservations at a nice restaurant. Others may be going out for a night on the town. All of these have their pros and cons. But I have to say, I really do enjoy the comforts of home when it comes to casting off the old year and bringing in the new.

There is no need for a designated driver, no reliance on cab drivers, the bathroom is always clean and a warm comfy bed is only feet away. Man, I’m getting old.

Regardless of how you celebrate, sparkling wine is probably on your radar. Even if it’s just a glass or a sip at the stroke of midnight, this beverage seems to be an inescapable part of the holiday. And since I haven’t bought mine yet, it’s probable that many of you haven’t picked up yours either.

As always, I’ve got some tips, and I hope you will find them helpful.

1)    You should buy at least one bottle.

I don’t care if you are alone by yourself, or just celebrating with one other light drinker. Milestones are important and should be celebrated. And bubbles in wine tickle the nose and delight the mind. If you are concerned about not finishing a bottle, you can invest in a $5 widget that does a remarkable job at preserving sparkling wine. Check out #5 on this list for more information.

2)    Ideally you should buy two.

Even if you are a light or occasional drinker, the bottles you buy will last for a long time. And once you enjoy a taste of the wine on New Year’s Eve, you will know what it tastes like. All of a sudden that second bottle isn’t such a mystery. And there are lots of good reasons to open a bottle of sparkling wine: The first big snow, the first fire in the fireplace, the first thaw, the Ides of March, you get the picture.

3)    If you are having a bunch of people over, find a big bottle.

Magnums of sparkling wine are not just for decoration. They may appear to be ostentatious, but unbelievably they are actually better than the same wine in individual bottles. It’s a long story, which you should read at your leisure. But seriously, if you were going to buy four bottles for a party, you are better off with two magnums. Don’t trust me? Get one magnum and two regular bottles and taste them back-to-back. Then you can see for yourself.

4)    Just because it has bubbles doesn’t make it Champagne

I don’t say that to be snotty, nor do I insist that you serve or drink Champagne on New Year’s Eve. It’s just that Champagne is a thing, and that thing comes from a specific geography within France. Other wines can be made in the same way, but they are not technically Champagne. There is a lot more on this subject here.

5)    Champagne is expensive

It’s hard to find a good mass market champagne for under $30. I would argue that the best champagnes are actually produced not by the largest international brands, but by the smaller grower-producers. These wines aren’t necessarily more expensive, although they can be, but they are certainly much harder to find. On the flip side, there are some very solid sparkling wines that can be found for less than $10 a bottle. I discuss the lower tier wines here.

6)    Unless you are using a saber, popping the cork is not okay.

This isn’t even a matter of public safety. It’s a matter of propriety. A lot of work goes into getting all that carbon dioxide into the bottle and keeping it in there. Do not disrespect the lives countless yeast gave up for your pleasure or the thankless toil of the riddler in the dark, dank cellar. Learn how to do it right, I’ve even found a short video for you.

The rest is easy. Drink and enjoy. Sparkling wine goes with just about everything. It would be great if you had good Champagne flutes to drink it from, but as New Year’s Eve wears on, sometimes those can be hard to come by. Ultimately, your enjoyment should not be constrained by the lack of a proper receptacle.

Have a great time. Get home safely. And I’m looking forward to spending another great year with you all.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 30, 2011 1:34 pm

    Rob Lowe taught me about Champagne in Wayne’s World.

    I have had a bottle of Veuve Clicquot sitting around since my wedding in May but we’re going out for dinner on Saturday night so it may have to wait. Your New Year’s plans sound lovely and very similar to the majority of mine. But after seeing all of the NYE specials over at the Table Hopping blog I decided I finally wanted to go out for New Year’s – I realized I ALWAYS stay in. I’m pretty excited, I don’t think I’ve ever had 10PM dinner reservations before.

  2. December 30, 2011 4:54 pm

    It’s hard to have a midnight toast when you’re standing outside watching fireworks. I’m debating whether to get a bottle of cider for when we get home — seems like it might be too late for toasting by then.

  3. December 30, 2011 6:27 pm

    Well we had two bottles last night (four of us) Korbel Natural and Veuve Clicquot Rose which my son’s girl friend brought. We preferred the Korbel at about $14 over the Veuve at about $52.

  4. Kate permalink
    December 30, 2011 9:22 pm

    I tend to be more of a Prosecco drinker but I do like a nice Veuve Clicquot. I opened a bottle of Moet & Chandon at a friend’s house once and they were really distressed that I didn’t “pop” the cork. Really, everyone needs to know how to open a bottle without losing any.
    By the way – Happy New Year and thanks for the blog – it’s been enjoyable reading.

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