New Year's Eve is a complicated holiday, says Boston Wine School's Jonathan Alsop. People who normally never drink, do. And sometimes the people who drink, stop. It's a lunar holiday that can fall on any night of the week- like this year's Monday night misfit.
The anticipation of a champagne toast at midnight overlays the whole night: special wine, special glass, special opening technique, special timing. Often all this special-ness compounds to disaster, or worse: disappointment. Alsop stopped by the Boston Public Radio studios to give us some affordable bubbly alternatives, and look at the year's best wines:
Champagne Alternatives: Lowering the Ante
Sparkling wine from any place other than Champagne, France occupies a profoundly lower price range. Is a $15 Spanish Cava as good as a $75 Champagne? Maybe not, but five bottles are almost always better than one bottle.
- Dr. Loosen Sparkling Riesling (Germany, about $12) - fruity, a little sweet, if you love Riesling, you'll love sparkling Riesling.
- Gruet Blanc de Noirs (New Mexico, about $15) - best, least expensive American sparkler - my favorite, at any rate.
- Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs (Napa, about $40) - best American sparkler.
- Segura Viudas Cava (Spain, about $8) - great value, traditional Euro style sparkler.
- Riondo "Spago Nero" Prosecco (Italy, about $12) - user friendly screw cap!
- Almanegra Sparkling Chardonnay
- Sparkling Rose or Sparkling Malbec (Argentina, about $25) - southern hemisphere adventure, especially the sparkling red Malbec.
- 90+ Cellars Moscato (Italy, about $12) - sweet, pretty, great with dessert.
Sampled on the Show:
- 2004 Westport Rivers Vintage Rose (current vintage about $25) - think global, drink local!
2012 Wine Year in Review:
- Robert Parker sells the Wine Advocate
- The Year Of Rose... again!
- Best new wine: Morellino di Scansano
- Big year for Moscato, which turned up in hip hop songs all over the place this year
January: An Excellent Month for the Grapes Down Under:
The perihelion- which is when the earth is closest to the sun by a little less than 5 percent-is around January 3. Five percent may not sound like much, but it makes a big difference in grape ripeness. This is why Australia and South America are so famous for darkly intense red wines - Shiraz, Malbec, Carmenere. These same grapes are not nearly as powerful when grown in the Northern hemisphere, at least so far.