Pop a cork on a delightful sparkling wine before the year runs out.
While I am a firm believer that any time is a good time for sparkling wine, nothing quite expresses the expectant exuberance of the calendar tipping into a new year like a bottle of bubbly. There are more choices than ever out there but I’ve narrowed it down to just a few sparkling wines – and one Champagne – to celebrate the New Year. Welcome, 2024! May you be a helluva lot kinder than 2023.
If French Champagne is a must for your holiday table, look no further than a classic bottle from a classic producer. The expressive nose on 100% Pinot Noir (like most Blanc de Noirs) is more herbal than toasty. I am a big fan of the bubble size, too, medium with enough heft to carry to the back of the palate but not too soft to disappear. I’d consider this a fuller-bodied style for a champagne rosé. Pair it with anything you like – this bad boy can handle Indian spice, raw fish and Parma ham with aplomb. I like the full-figure bottle shape. Too, a stand-out in the marketplace of lithe bottles. $99.99 / 750 ml
Each year, Corollary, an Oregon house specializing in sparkling wine, takes a small amount of Cuvée One and cellars it on the lees for five years, waiting another ten months after disgorging to release. Plumb its fruity depths, marvel over its creamy body and stony, mineral finish. Hold it to your nose again and breathe in its life-affirming lemon-thyme aromas. I’m a little starry-eyed! This is the wine’s debut and there are only 40 cases available. Bring it as a gift to your friend who knows a little something about wine. $75 / 750 ml or $160 / 1.5 L (magnum)
They had me at hello. If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably already know I have a thing for the birds and this bubbly from 100% Willamette Valley grapes arrives in a blue gift box printed with a bluebird. So, too, the wine label. As my friend, Roberta, would say – adorbs! At first sniff, the blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay is at once grassy and toasty and – wait – is that orange blossom? I am immediately tempted to serve this for Christmas Day brunch. A splash of orange juice would detract from the lovely aroma and flavor but you only live once. $36 / 750 ml
2023 is the year I moved beyond The Prisoner’s Red Blend, discovering not only their sparkling wine but their dessert wine, too. Made with California-sourced Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the wine spends 36 months en tirage. While that rounds off a bit of the tartness, there is still green apple on the nose and a bit of toast. On the palate, this is the juiciest wine of the group, with bright bubbles and zesty citrus and strawberry. It finishes strong, too, with a nice creaminess. $26 / 750 ml
Tea lovers, attention, please! Ever since I first tried Chandon’s Garden Spritz (in 2021!), I’ve been spreading the word about its accessible, garden-party-friendly vibe. The team is back with a new Garden Spritz, this one made with Earl Grey Tea. To achieve that citrus-y aroma while dialing back the astringent flavor that too much bergamot can impart in even tiny amounts, a tea blend is mixed with bergamot oil and sugar which, as a “dosage liqueur,” is added just after disgorgement. Yes, it is aromatic – you will still notice the bergamot – but the sugar and tea blend (Darjeeling, Ceylon and Assam) soften its sunny character just enough. I paired it with ramen and curry. Really anything you’d drink tea with makes a fine partner. $42 / 750 ml
Sometimes, a glass of wine I first tried at a restaurant lands on my list. I fell hard for a glass of bubbly Murgo Brut Rosé from Sicily. Dry and crisp with a medium-soft bubble, this wine is alovely partner for seafood with any kind of sauce or seasoning. It can handle spice and cream, vinegar or sugar. A pale peach color, it is made of 100% Nerello Mascalese, a light-bodied red from the slopes of Mount Etna. Based on this wine, I would happily drink anything from this producer. (I have two 2019’s on my wine rack –I’m waiting for the 2022 with bated breath.) $30 for 750 ml