Now that you’ve decided upon a place in which to pass the final hours of 2011 — and if you haven’t, consider DailyXY’s 11th-hour recommendations for Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal — it’s time to turn your attention to the next problem: alcohol. Whether you’re tearing the roof off a penthouse suite or sitting around your in-laws’ living room trading knitting stories, you need a bevvy that will perfect the night (or at least make it bearable). New Year’s is the go-to eve for champagne and sparkling wine, particularly for the ever-anticipated, if at times overrated, midnight toast. It’s somewhat up to you, and your attitude/disposition, as to whether the night fizzles, but you can certainly control whether or not it fizzes. Here, five sparkling suggestions — one of which thinks inside the box — and one bar-raising alternative.
Champagne de Castelnau, Vintage 2000
Made in Champagne, France, Champagne de Castelnau earned a 5 out of 5 star–rating from Decanter magazine. Little wonder: The grapes are handpicked, and the champagne aged for years in a cellar to acquire richness and aromatic complexities. This champagne trumpets a stylish nose of red apple, toast, toffee, coffee, confectionery and nut, yet is mellowed with concentrated fruit and great acidity, while fine-tuned with intensity and spice. Crafted to complement good food, it will accompany any New Year’s (after-)dinner party. Serve chilled around 7°C. $70
Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut Champagne
For celebrations large or small, the iconic Mumm’s is perfect before a meal, as a match for fish or light meat dishes as well as, of course, for midnight toasts. It embodies apricot and toasty yeast aromas on the palate with a fresh lemon finish. In Ontario, look for the unique party-on-two-legs version, “Mumm on Ice,” sold in reinforced packaging designed to chill your champagne — all you have to do is add the ice. Serve chilled from 7-10°C. $50-$65; Mumm on Ice, $60, Ontario exclusive
Using all-Ontario grapes and made in Niagara wine county, Crush Bubbly is crafted to the traditional champagne specifications. Pinot noir–based, it’s aged for a full year on the lees. This sparkling wine refreshes with its light-to-medium body and dry, almost delicate mousse-mouth feel through the palate. Flavours of white current, cranberry, pomegranate and pink grapefruit flow elegantly. With a medium sugar code (not sweet), it perfectly accompanies delicate fish or chicken dishes, as well as salty appetizers. Serve fresh and young, chilled 8-10°C. $15, Ontario exclusive at Aisle43 stores and Vineyards Estates Wine
Harvested and fermented along the southern coast of Africa, where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet, the aptly-named Two Oceans embodies a Sauvignon Blanc’s classic gooseberry, grassy and fresh lemon aromas, but slightly restricts these bouquets in favour of an earthier nose with an aroma of dried straw (the latter descriptor extends to the colour: very clear, almost-pale straw). Two Oceans’ taste is zesty, with a crisp, acidic bubble and a clean palate. It is superbly versatile, good for dinner, dessert, or midnight. Serve chilled 12-16°C. $10
Santa Margherita Prosecco
Italy’s renowned sparkling white (at a reasonable price), Prosecco is tremendously popular at both weddings and backyard barbeques, but also ably fits the bill for a cold Canadian winter party — it seems to capture a little sunlight and sparkle in a bottle. With peach and apple aromas, the fresh and balanced Santa Margherita guarantees a refreshing finish. The color is straw yellow, with a lively aroma characterized by a fine fruity fragrance and an elegant long-lived mousse. Serve well-chilled, 8-12°C. $18
Neither champagne nor sparkling wine to be found in the awkwardly-named “i-bar” (instant bar); still, this compact traveller is a New Year’s must-have, as it enables you to literally bring the bar to the house party. It includes five 200mL bottles: Polar Ice Vodka, Lamb’s Palm Breeze Rum, Malibu Coconut Rum, Lamb’s Black Sheep Spiced Rum and Wiser’s Canadian Whisky (in Ontario, it also comes in a $30 3 pack, without the coconut or palm breeze rum). The value-added 35 cocktail recipes — online and as a mobile app, and debatably justifying the “i” designation — make this already well-priced package even more deserving of your cheers. $40, not available in Quebec
Image courtesy of ~Marjolein~.