Brut natural, brut, extra-dry, sec, demi-sec or doux?
For those ready to pop the top on the New Year, but don't know one champagne from the next or which flavor fits your fancy, local wine aficionado VW Stephens is sharing a few tips for selecting the best bubbly for your bash.
Whether it is sparkling wine from California or New Mexico or champagne from France, Stephens said, "the elegance and excitement" of watching the buoyant bubbles float to the top of your flute after pouring a glass to "celebrate the joy of the season is a wine lover's delight."
And for those not so sure they can handle the cheer, Stephens suggested giving sparkling wine a shot even if wine is not typically your drink of choice.
"Sparkling wines have less alcohol than most still wines," Stephens said. "They won't tire you or your palate as quickly."
He also said sparkling wines typically have "more acidity than still wines, which keeps the palate refreshed and ready for the next bite of food."
Wondering which foods go best with your bubbly? Stephens said hour d'oeuvres and sweets work best.
He said he especially likes to pair champagne with parmesan or brie cheese.
"The saltiness of these cheeses work well with champagne or sparkling wine," Stephens said.
Other successful pairings can be found with sushi or Stephens' favorite - dessert.
He said sparkling wines are available in a range of styles from "light and delicate" to "rich and powerful."
"An equally wide range of foods can be paired with bubblies," Stephens said.
Still not sure what to choose? Stephens said looking on the bottles' labels will offer hints as to what you should buy.
For those who think they don't like the sparkling spirit because it is simply too dry, Stephens said to beware of those labeled Brut Extra, which are virtually bone dry and said it is also wise to steer clear of the more popular Brut, which is also a dry champagne.
If you like a sweet wine, Stephens suggests reaching for demi-sec.
He also said sparkling wine is usually produced from Chardonnay or Pinot Noir grapes.
"We often like rose champagnes, which is a blend of those grapes with red grape skin, giving it the rose shade," Stephens said