Sparkling wines great for New Year's Eve, or anytime

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDDecember 31, 2013 

It's New Year's Eve, and that means it's time to talk Champagne and sparkling wines.

For those of you who heeded my advice at this time last year and started enjoying sparkling wine year-round, good for you! For the rest of you who didn't touch the stuff except at your cousin's wedding in June and until tonight, allow me get a little preachy once again about the virtues of bubbly.

Champagnes (from the Champagne region in France) and sparkling wines are quite possibly the most versatile beverages in the world of wine. There's a wide array of colors, flavors and sweetness levels available that give these wines crowd-pleasing appeal.

A common thread that runs through many Champagnes and sparkling wines is their high acidity level. High acidity is important for a number of reasons: It gives the wine a nice, crisp "lift;" it balances out the sweetness if there's any residual sugar content; and it contrasts well with fatty and creamy foods. That makes these wines a natural to serve with fried foods, cheeses, quiche, salmon and dozens of other possibilities.

Here are some suggestions that you can enjoy tonight or any other time of year:

Who says your Prosecco has to be overly sweet ... or sweet at all? The Zardetto Brut Treviso (about $16) is a refreshing alternative from the Prosecco region made from the glera grape. Gentle apple and citrus flavors shine through along with a clean, slate-like finish and a splash of minerality. This wine works perfectly for starters and begs to be paired with shellfish or sushi.

You simply can't talk about sparkling wines from Washington without including Treveri Cellars in the conversation. Their Sparkling Rosé (about $18), a blend of chardonnay and syrah, is a grand slam with yeasty, baked apple aromatics, mouthwatering strawberry flavors and a hint of tangy mandarin orange on the finish.

J Vineyards & Winery's sparkling wines from California look stunning in bottles with an elongated neck that are easy to grip and pour. Their elegant exterior is only exceeded by the wine within.

The J Cuvée 20 Brut (about $28) explodes with flavors of pear and Fuji apple while ultra-fine bubbles impart a soft, creamy quality that suggests a finish of lemon chiffon.

In the bottle, the striking salmon pink-hued J Brut Rosé (about $38) is an attention-grabbing work of art. In the glass, aromas of field strawberries lead off, with more berry flavors on the palate coupled with faint floral tones and a delicious trailing note of orange citrus.

Cheers and Happy New Year!

Dan Radil is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at danthewineguy.com.

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