Flutes of Fancy

Four Alternative Choices for New Year's Eve

Champagne, cava, prosecco and American sparkling wines are all worthy bottles to uncork this New Year's Eve. But bubbly choices hardly end there. If you want to usher in 2008 with something a little bit different, here are four other options. Cheers to a happy and healthy 2008!


Crémant de Bourgogne: Burgundy's reigning grapes Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are also two of the three permitted grapes in Champagne. This makes the region's sparkling Crémant de Bourgogne a no-brainer to pop open this New Year's Eve. Because at least 30% of the wine must be made with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris, in the traditional method, you get a taste of Champagne's quality and complexity at a fraction of the price.


Sekt: The Germans—not the French—have the highest consumption of sparkling wine in the world (how's that for a conversation starter for your next cocktail party?) Sekt, sometimes called Perlwein, is Germany's take on bubbly. Made in the tank method like Prosecco, bottles labeled simply as "Sekt" may contain imported grapes, while those that say "Deutscher Sekt" include German grapes like Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris.  These wines have refreshing tart apple and peach flavors, and although not many of the premium bottles are exported, Sekt is worth the search.


Cap Classique: While South Africa's red wines have recently been putting the country on the map, two of its traditionally popular white grapes take center stage in Cap Classique, the country's signature sparkling wine. Sauvignon Blanc gives great acidity and hints of lime and grapefruit, while Chenin Blanc offers softness and floral notes. The name "Cap Classique" originates from the French Huguenots, who introduced traditional French winemaking to South Africa's Cape.


Sparkling Shiraz: This bubbly from Down Under looks just as festive as a pomegranate sparkling wine cocktail, but without the work. Aside from its stunningly gorgeous red color, sparkling Shiraz has some of the weight and spicy berry flavors of regular Shiraz, with just the right amount of effervescence. It's the perfect accompaniment to sip with filet mignon, when you want something festive that can also stand up to a substantial main course like steak.


Kelly Magyarics is a wine writer and educator in the Washington, DC, area. She can be reached through her Web site, www.trywine.net.


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