Nothing says New Year’s like a celebratory toast and what’s a cheers without a glass of something sparkling? Below, we’ve put together some tried-and-true tips for ringing in the New Year with bubbly, from the proper way to pop a bottle to the perfect snacks for pairing to a trick for reviving the fizz in flat Champagne (hint: All you need is a raisin!).
Choosing a bottle
When people hear sparkling wine, they often think Champagne, but this is by no means your only option for a quality bubbly. For a similar flavor profile but more affordable price tag, try exploring Crémant, a category of French sparkling wines that are made using the same traditional method as Champagne (méthode Champenoise). Popular varieties include Crémant d’Alsace, Crémant de Bourgogne, and Crémant de Loire—each type has its own unique flavor profile but shares some of Champagne’s signature notes of toast, brioche, and pastry.
For another budget-friendly option, you can try Cava, a Spanish sparkling wine that’s also made using the méthode Champenoise. Or, try Prosecco—this Italian sparkler gets its bubbles via a second fermentation in stainless steel tanks, giving the wine a more crisp, clean, fruit-forward quality. You can also find plenty of high-quality American sparkling wines from California, Oregon, Washington, New York, and more. There’s really no wrong way to go here—it just depends on your budget and taste preference.
How to serve
Sparkling wines are best served well-chilled, but there’s no need to get too scientific about it. Chill the unopened bottle in the fridge a few hours before your toast and you should be good to go. If you’re in a pinch, you can stick the bottle in the freezer for about 30 minutes, but be sure to use caution with this method. Any longer, and the bottle could explode in the freezer. Our advice? Save yourself the headache and put the bottle in the fridge the morning of your festivities.
When it comes to serving the wine, you’ve got a few options for glassware. You can use Champagne flutes, which feel elegant and festive. The longer shape of the glass also provides more space for the bubbles to develop and travel upwards, resulting in longer-lasting fizz. Another favorite option among wine professionals is to serve sparkling wine in regular white wine glasses, which allow you to detect more aromas in the wine due to the wider glass shape.
What about the Champagne coupe? Also referred to as a “Champagne saucer,” this wide, shallow glass evokes old-world elegance, but despite its name, it’s not actually the best option for your beverage. Its shallow depth can result in sparkling wines losing their fizz, aromas, and flavors more quickly.
Opening a bottle
Lots of people are intimidated by the idea of opening a bottle of bubbly, fearing flying corks and the loud popping noise. Fear not, and remember these tips for opening a bottle safely and correctly.
First, remove the foil wrapping around the cork, then carefully untwist and remove the wire cage surrounding the cork. Once you’ve done that, grab a kitchen towel and place it over the cork, grasping the bottom of the bottle with one hand and the draped cork with the other hand. Tilt the bottle slightly at an angle (being sure to point it away from yourself and your company), then gently twist the base of the bottle (not the cork!). As you do this, you should feel the cork begin to loosen until it pops away from the bottle. You can control the volume of the “pop” by putting some gentle pressure back against the cork as you twist the base of the bottle.
Pairing food with sparkling wine
One of the best things about sparkling wine? It’s extremely food-friendly, and pairs well with just about anything. In particular, it’s a great match for rich, fatty, salty, and fresh foods—meaning you can really take this pairing in any direction you’d like.
A few ideas? You might go for classic New Year’s elegance and serve your bubbly with blini and caviar or smoked salmon. Sparkling wines also tend to go great with our favorite charcuterie board offerings, like gooey, creamy cheeses, cured meats, olives, and fresh veggies. For fun contrast, you can also serve this fancy-feeling beverage with more casual fare, like potato chips, fried chicken, and even buttered popcorn—all three are excellent pairings for bubbles.
What to do with leftovers?
In the Test Kitchen, it’s a rare occasion when we have leftover bubbly (in our opinion, it’s always best fresh). But what if you opened several bottles, have a bit leftover, and want to savor that last glass the next day?
You can restore the fizz in your wine with this simple trick: Drop a raisin in the bottle. This works best sooner rather than later, so don’t wait too long after your wine goes flat to try it (New Year’s Day Champagne brunch, anyone?). Once you drop the raisin in the bottle, you should see bubbles begin to rise from the surface of the wine. Note that this won’t add bubbles to still wines, only sparkling ones that have lost their fizz.
This article is intended for individuals 21-years-old and over. Please drink responsibly.
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