Another year is coming to a close, which means it’s time for sober reflection on the past and much less sober celebration of the present. New Year’s can be a tricky holiday to plan for, with sequined shenanigans running late into the night of the 31st followed by a bleary-eyed brunch just a few hours later. This is varsity drinking, people, and you’re going to need a beverage that can keep up—something elegant enough for the occasion, light enough for all-night sipping, and spunky enough to get you going again the next morning. Pros know there’s only one option for all your New Year’s needs: bubbles.
From cava to cru, sparkling wine has everything you need to start and end your year with a pop, and while Champagne reigns supreme as the fanciest tipple to toast with, you don’t have to spend all your Christmas cash to drink like a connoisseur. So whether you’re throwing a ball-dropping party at home, hosting brunch on the first, or just perusing the wine list, here’s a little carbonated booze bible to help you ring in 2020 like a champ(agne)ion.
Cava is Champagne’s Spanish cousin, made with the same traditional method (bottle fermented) and boasting the same dry profile and tiny bubbles as the fancy French stuff. And sure, not all sparkling wine is created equal, but blind-taste a hundred people on Cava vs. Champagne and the numbers won’t lie. It’s a great way to get more bang for less buck, meaning you can buy an extra bottle for mimosas in the morning.
Heading to a hipster’s house for NYE? Pick up a bottle of Pét-nat at the wine shop and you’ll be the biodynamic life of the party. Pét-nat is sparkling natural wine that puts the “fun” in funky—it’s cloudy, unfiltered, often organic, and definitely different, drinking more like a weird old-world red than your typical yeasty bottle of bubbly. It’s also low ABV, very affordable, and totally cool to chug straight from the bottle.
Prosecco is still recovering from its bad rap as being a sweet and ersatz substitute for “grown-up” sparkling wine, but different isn’t bad, and there’s plenty of good Prosecco on the market. “Frizzante” prosecco is usually cheaper and lighter, while “spumante” is fully-sparkling and a bit more expensive. Whichever you choose, don’t forget to pick up a little peach nectar for brunch-time Bellinis.
If you insist on being highfalutin with your flutes, Champagne is the way to go. It’s easy to be seduced by snazzy labels and names you know, but take the time to chat with your local wine seller, who will be able to point you to a quality bottle you might’ve overlooked on the shelf. Vintage Champagnes are pricey, but after a year like this, you deserve it—look for the words “Grand Cru” to get the very best grapes hand-picked from the best vineyards.