Sparkling wines have been the go-to libation to celebrate New Years for years because of their festive and celebratory character. While Champagne and other sparkling wines should not only be consumed on New Years, celebrating the end of the year and the start of a new one just doesn't seem right without them.
So how do you pick? Which Champagne is the best to serve on New Years? Read on...
First of all, Champagne refers to the sparkling wine made in the Champagne region in France. There are many other sparkling wines made the world over, but none of them can call themselves Champagne. Champagne is the King of the sparkling wine world and some of the best sparkling wines from anywhere originate from here.
So when considering what the best New Years Champagne is, you obviously have to start here, with the real deal from France. However, there are hundreds or even thousands of different producers in Champagne and each makes many different wines. To start, when picking Champagnes for New Years, you must consider price. Real Champagne tends to be a bit pricey. The very cheapest Champagnes that are still good tend to be in the $30+ range and go steeply up from there. Many of the "entry level" Champagnes (usually blends of different vineyards and vintages) can easily be in the $50 to $100 range. Beyond that, most Champagne houses and growers have higher level wines that are either special blends, single vineyard wines, select parcels or even single vintages. These wines, particular the very top level ones (often referred to as a luxury cuveé or Tête de Cuveé) can cost profoundly more, well over $100 per bottle and some (even the current release) going for several hundred or even thousands of dollars! Don't believe me? Check out the ultra-rare Krug Clos d'Ambonnay which goes for over $2000 a bottle on release!
So part of your decision making process about New Years Eve Champagne should be considering your budget. Unless you are a billionaire, which I am not, I have a suggestion. What I like to do is have several sparkling wines over the evening, building up in stature to one or two special bottles around midnight. You can compare different producers, styles, vintages, etc, finally culminating with the most special wines of the night toward the end (or earlier if you are worried about being so sloshed by that time that you won't really appreciate the special wines!).
There is no best Champagne, so consider your budget and shop around. Ask a wine store salesperson for guidance if you are new to Champagne and the different producers. If money is not an issue, some standouts that are particularly special and also very sought after and therefore only to be opened on special occasions are things like Krug (pretty much any of their cuveés), Dom Perignon Oenotheque, Cristal, Salon, Clos du Goisses, and many more. There are now hundreds of outstanding growers and houses in the region so you have a lot of options.
Now, what if your budget doesn't allow for these big boys? What if you can only afford one New Years Eve Champagne (or none) but want to drink well the rest of the night? Well read on for further tips on how to drink well without breaking the bank…
There are literally dozens of regions around the world to choose from. Prosecco in Italy, the Loire Valley in France, California, Cava from Spain and many others produce a huge amount of sparkling wine, many of which are quite good and can be had for much less expensive than real Champagne. To learn more about sparkling wines check out both our Sparkling Wines page and the Other Sparkling Wines page.
One last thing to mention is that although sparkling wines are the most popular drink for New Years Eve celebrations, there is no law anywhere that says you can't drink other things on New Years. You can save a special Champagne or two for celebrating but serve other drinks (cocktails, regular non-sparkling wines, beer, etc.) throughout the night as well.
Cheers and Happy New Year!