Champagne Guide: Ring in the New Year with Some Bubbly
New Year's Eve is champagne's time to shine.
Maryland Heights residents will soon be ringing in the New Year, a time when champagnes and sparkling wines rule the drink menu.
Choices of these great sparklers can be overwhelming, so let's review which ones may be best for your New Year's Eve dinner or celebration.
Generally speaking, people refer to all sparkling wines as champagne. Actually, the only wines that can be called champagne are the ones that are produced in the Champagne region of France, hence the name.
Wines produced outside this region of France are called by different names. The primary grapes used to produce champagne are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. There are now only five family-owned champagne houses in France, and Laurent-Perrier is the largest of the three.
Champagnes typically range in price from around $45 and more to as high as you can afford. Prices of sparkling wines will depend on the amount of time spent aging, the grapes used in the bottling and the process used to produce the champagne or sparkling wine.
But don't think the only good New Year's Eve drink you can get this time of year comes with a French label on it. The U.S. produces fantastic sparkling wines, as well—as do Spain (termed "Cava") and Italy (called "Prosecco").
Styles can vary, as can the sweetness levels in the bottle. The sweetness level will typically be noted on the label of sparkling wines. The term "Doux" denotes a desert wine (very sweet) followed by "Demi-Sec" (sweet), "Sec" (semi-sweet), "Extra Dry" (hint of sweetness) and "Brut" (dry—typical for Champagne).
The guide below gives you a sweetness indication of the sparkling wines:
- Extra-Brut or Brut-Naturale: 0-6 grams of sugar per liter (the driest of the dry, unsweetened)
- Brut: less than 15 grams of sugar per liter (dry—typical style of champagne with no sweetness)
- Extra-Dry: 12-20 grams of sugar per liter (dry or slightly sweet)
- Sec: 17-35 grams of sugar per liter (medium-sweet)
- Demi-Sec: 33-55 grams of sugar per liter (sweet)
- Doux: more than 55 grams of sugar
Whatever sparkling wine you choose this New Year's Eve, remember that these wonderful wines are to be enjoyed all year long, and they go extremely well with various cheeses and appetizers before or after a meal. Try a brut sparkler with your next chicken meal or your favorite sushi. A nice Sparkling Cava will go well with your next bowl of chili. Give it a try!
Enjoy your New Year all year long in bubbly style!