By The Glass
Splurge as the seconds tick away
IF YOU are an enthusiastic wine drinker you have already thought about what you will be drinking during the last minutes of this year.
What will I be drinking? You would think it would be so easy for me to choose a bottle at any time. But I guess I'm one of those who has to complicate the process by asking, what will I be eating? Who am I going to be with and what do they like?
Luckily, New Year's Eve comes with plenty of tradition. You probably know exactly who you will be with -- chances are, the same people you ended 2005 with. You probably also know what you will be eating, because you have the same things every year: Perhaps it will be sashimi, jook or congee, noodles or even a whole suckling pig. You get my drift. You've done this before. And if you've read my articles this year you'd find pairings for all these dishes.
WHAT I'm more concerned about are those last sips that pass your lips as the seconds tick away on 2006 -- the wine you'll be having after the food is eaten and the one you may remember most through all of 2007. For me, there really is only one choice: champagne.
This most ebullient of wines is the perfect choice for the hour. At its height, champagne is a beautifully complex wine, a blend of three grape varieties -- pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier. The best comes only from the chalky escarpments just an hour east of Paris. It is aged in cold cellars that run for miles and served as second cities during the world wars. Its bubbles are the result of a controlled secondary fermentation that every other wine in the world desires to avoid, except those that seek to emulate champagne's character.
And it is these bubbles that link champagne to celebration across the globe. From its height of fashion in the royal courts of France, Russia and England to the launching and christening of seafaring vessels, champagne has secured its place in civilization perhaps until the end of time.
Its bubbly character parallels celebration itself. It takes time to create and plan. It is a combination of many factors and efforts. And it is certainly fleeting. We would all love for celebrations to last, but like the effervescence of champagne, they last for only a short while. I can certainly recall many a champagne bottle I wished had never run dry.
WHETHER you like it dry (brut) or sweet (extra dry, demi-sec, think White Star), there is a champagne for you. Don't let the year pass by without having something great to drink goodbye. Recommendations:
NV Deutz Brut Classic ($42): It has rich aromas of brioche and vanilla backed by a silky texture and lingering finish.
NV Diebolt-Vallois Cuvee Prestige Blanc de Blanc ($52): Oh so elegant, with a silky texture, it blends orchard fruit with toasted nuts into harmony.
MV Krug Grand Cuvee ($139): With richness, complexity and class, it's what I'm drinking on New Year's Eve.
Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier and wine educator with Southern Wine & Spirits.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org