Monday, December 15, 2008

5...4...3...2....WINE! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

by Megan Moore

Whether it is Champagne, Prosecco, or Cava, sparkling wine always seems celebratory. Just in time for the New Year, wine stores all over New York are having tastings to lure customers during the busy holiday season. The good news is that there is a sparkling wine for every budget. While Champagnes are synonymous with 
luxury and decadence, there are definite values to be had.

A prime example of Champagne that almost everyone is familiar with is Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin. It is a classic champagne with small bubbles and biscuity, citrusy flavors. As an indulgence, Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin is reliably delicious. It is in the mid price range of about $40 a bottle at my favorite wine store.

If you are looking for something slightly different, Prosecco is a nice choice. Prosecco is the most well known of all the Italian sparkling wine and is slightly more affordable yet just as delicious. Less expensive does not mean lower quality in many cases and the trick is to always ask questions at your local wine store. One of my favorites of this variety is Mina, which is well balanced and slightly tart with some mineral tones. It is inexpensive enough to make into a Bellini yet is absolutely delicious on its own.

Of the three most common varieties of sparkling wine, Cava has enjoyed an enormous amount of interest in the past five years or so because of America’s current fascination with Spanish food. Cava is not the sort of thing I think of when El Bulli comes to mind, but it is the perfect wine to drink with friends while enjoying tapas. An excellent Cava to sample is Miro, which is one of the true modern sparkling wines. It is a blend of three very specific Spanish grapes: parellada, macabeo and xarel-lo. It is definitely dry, with bright flavors like lemon and green apple, and biscuity overtones. It is best served by itself, rather than as part of a cocktail.

Whatever the variety of sparkling wine, all go well with a nice toast and a happy celebration.

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