Maybe it’s much too early in the game
But I thought I’d ask you just the same
What are you drinking New Year’s,
New Year’s Eve?
The pressure’s on! What will you be popping open as the clock ticks its first seconds into 2017? Maybe you’re into small-production grower Champagnes. Maybe Christmas was a little rough on your wallet this year and you need a good (but still delicious) value bottle. Maybe bubbles aren’t your thing, but you still need something to toast with. Get some inspiration from what the France44 staff is imbibing for their New Year’s Eve celebrations! Plus, check out a few insider tips we’ve put together when it comes to choosing the finest fizz for your evening.
- Know what to expect when it comes to sweetness. There are some helpful—albeit cryptic—terms that appear on most bottles of bubbly to help determine how sweet or dry the wine will be. If you detest sweetness of any kind, go for labels that say Brut, Extra Brut, or Brut Nature. These wines will have anywhere from 0 to 12 grams per liter of residual sugar, with most of them falling below 7 g/l—well below the level of detectable sweetness, with the sugar being balanced out by the wine’s high acidity. If you like just a hint of sweetness, look for Extra Dry. Confusing, right? Many Proseccos (including the beloved LaMarca) are technically Extra Dry. Wines labeled Demi-Sec will have an easily perceptible sweetness to them. Let the wine staff know what your preferred sweetness level is, and they’ll point out some stellar examples!
(Geeky useless knowledge: The majority of Champagne consumed back in the 18th and 19th centuries was ridiculously sweet—the Russian Imperial Court ordered theirs to be made with more than 100 grams of sugar, and even kept extra bowls of sugar on their dinner tables just in case they wanted to add more!)
- Get to know the little guys. We all know Veuve Clicquot, Moet-Chandon and Perrier-Jouet. They’re consistent, dependable, and in constant supply. But why not go for something a little more unique this year—maybe some Farmer Fizz? While the major houses produce millions of cases of wine per year, these “Grower Champagne” producers rarely top 10,000 cases, with most being well under 5,000 per year. They’re made in a plethora of different manners—some are finessed and creamy, some are linear, bright, and minerally-crisp. Some see over 7 years aging on the lees, and some are perfect in their youthful vivaciousness. This eclectic little niche of the wine world has made a huge impact on the market in recent years, and it provides a fresh new look at how characterful and unique Champagne can be.
- No need to drop big dough. Love the luxurious creaminess of a top-notch Blanc de Blancs but don’t love the big price tag? Expand your horizons and go for a French cremant, a domestic version, or maybe even something more exotic. These “little siblings” can provide the same unique taste that those expensive bubblies have, but for a fraction of the price—and maybe you’ll discover a new favorite wine region or style!
- Sparkling wines are only the beginning. Who says you have to drink bubbly when the clock strikes midnight? Consider a sparkling cocktail, a precious beer you’ve been eyeing, a new smoky scotch, or that glorious Italian wine that’s been calling your name. Traditions are traditions, but there are no rules to govern what should be in your glass as you ring in the New Year. Buck the trends, get a little weird, set new standards, and start 2017 off your way!
So, what are the pros drinking? Here are our staff picks to ring in 2017:
Chris–I’ll have a glass of Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blancs in one hand, and a Manhattan in the other. A good vermouth is essential, and a splash of bitters makes all the difference. (and don’t forget the cherries!)
Bill–My favorite rose Cava: the Raventos i Blanc “De Nit”
Rick–Goutorbe Grand Cru. Less than half the price of Dom, and easily twice the wine.
Dustin–As much as we all love the good old Minnesota Martini (Budweiser and green olives) I will be imbibing with the lovely Lini Lambrusco. An off dry style which will be a great accompaniment to a plethora of meat and cheese.
Carin–Cranberry Moscow Mule – A festive twist on my summer staple! The perfect ginger beer is the most important ingredient, and a few fresh cranberries brings the holiday spirit. For an added twist, drizzle a splash of Tattersall Cranberry Liqueur on top.
Bennett–Bent Paddle Harness IPA, my favorite hoppy suds this time of year. When the clock hits midnight, Champagne Geoffrey Rosé de Saignée for toasts all around!
Zach–Unibroue’s “la Resolution”. Everybody needs a good Resolution for the New Year!
Adam–Von Buhl Brut Riesling–the Champagne of Germany
Karina–If I had my druthers I’d pop some Jacques Selosse, but my bank account would rather have some funky Lambrusco. Pretty pale pink in the glass, it’s unfined, unfiltered, and ridiculously tasty–my favorite find of the year.