"Happy New Year!" The instant these joyous words are shouted, we expect (and deserve) to hear a loud POP! that means sparkling wine has been opened and is about to be poured. There's nothing more festive than a glass full of bubbles!
Not all sparkling wine is champagne, of course. That name refers only to sparkling wines produced in the Champagne region of France. So before you automatically reach for the Champagne this New Year's Eve, think again -- for there are dozens of different types of sparkling wine out there -- one for every personality, every mood, every price range.
Which to try?
Don't know whether you'd prefer an Italian Prosecco to a German Sekt? Or maybe an American sparkling wine? Then you'll love our little quiz. Just skim down the list to see which type fits your own bubbly personality, and chose your bubbles accordingly.
- Do you like fishnet stockings, walks on the beach, film noir, impromptu parties? Then Spanish Cava, produced using the same méthode champenoise used in France's Champagne region, is for you. Devil-may-care (but not daredevil) and slightly unconventional, Cava is affordable yet sophisticated.
- Do you know the thread count of your cotton sheets? Do you like wild mushroom risotto? Then French Champagne is for you. Always a classic, champagne is elegant and smooth, with a refined earthiness. Prefer osetra caviar to beluga? You're extra-discerning, my friend. Go for the vintage.
- Do you screen your calls? If not, you're the Italian Prosecco type: friendly, spontaneous, open, fun-loving. Fruity, light, and fun, these inexpensive spumante (frothy) wines are for people who like to make every gathering a celebration.
- Do you prefer ferris wheels with scenic views to bumper cars? Due to a long history of mediocrity, the Italian sparkler Asti Spumante has earned a poor reputation stateside. But there are many fine examples of this pretty, frothy wine available, and odds are you'll love these fun, festive, inexpensive wines. Made from the Moscato Canelli grape, they're apricot-scented, lightly sweet and low in alcohol.
- Do you eat pasta at least twice a week? Prefer Fred Astaire to John Wayne? Do you like adventure sports such as river rafting or rock climbing? You'll love American sparkling wines. Lots of great examples, made from Chardonnay and/or Pinot Noir grapes and the same methods used to make Champagne, come from California and Washington state. Inexpensive, champagne-style sparkling wines can also be found from Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Argentina, and even France -- known as crémant.
- Do you own a slotted fish spatula, a digital camera or a shaving brush? Does high-speed rail travel appeal to you? You'll want to try a German Sekt (pronounced zekt). Although they run the gamut of quality, beginning with very simple sweet wines made from grapes purchased throughout Europe, the top Sekts -- labeled Deutscher sekt or marked with a vintage or grape variety -- are fabulous, racy, elegant sparkling wines that are waiting to be discovered. Made from Riesling, Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris grapes, they're also great values.