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Picking the Perfect Sparkling Wine

Something for every palate.

As New Years' Eve nears, there is really only one beverage everyone thinks of to ring in the evening with. Several local stores sell different champagnes and sparkling wines, and Rich Isel, an employee at in Madison for over 20 years (12 years fulltime), has advice for which bottles are sure to please your guests—or yourself—this Dec. 31.

"It's really the only time of year we sell a lot of champagne," Isel said, but sparkling wine is more versatile than most people give it credit for. "Champagne has very low sugar levels and high acidity. In combination with the bubbles, ... it can be really austere. These qualities make it a good food wine, even though it's not drank with food often."

While proper champagnes, from the Champagne region of France, can cost between $30 and $50 or more, sparking wines from other parts of the world are more reasonably priced without sacrificing much in flavor, and can be less dry than champagne.

Sparkling red wines are also available and can make for something a little different on New Years' Eve. From Argentina comes Curioso (pictured; $10.99), a pink sparkling champagne which Isel said is "not too acidic, a little softer than champagne and more flavorful than prosecco or cava."

A bottle of Ca Furlan Cuvée Beatrice Prosecco ($9.99) has a "nice fruitiness, and a faint sweetness" to it, according to Isel. It also has smaller bubbles, adding to the drink's "effervescence."

Isel said a bottle of Casa Dora Cava ($7.99) is "a good alternative for a lot less money." This sparkling wine from Spain is "dryer like a champagne," he said, and is often overlooked.

For the traditionalists, Isel particularly recommends a bottle of Tattinger champagne ($33.99). "The house has been around a long time," he said, and the champagne has a "yeast-y, bread-y" component to the taste. "In addition to the citrus flavors, it's richer and more complex than other wines," he said.

Residents of Chatham and Madison can purchase sparkling wines at the following locations:

  • in Chatham
  • in Chatham
  • in Chatham
  • in Madison
  • Gary's Wine and Cheese in Madison

We at Madison and Chatham Patch encourage you to drink responsibly and enjoy the new year festivities with safety.

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