Toast the holiday with a glass of cold, sparkling champagne

HAPPY NEW YEAR

December 26, 1990|By Sherrie Clinton | Sherrie Clinton,Evening Sun Staff

CELEBRATE NEW YEAR'S EVE with a bottle of bubbly. W.P. Winner Ltd., a local liqueur distributing company, says that more sparkling wines are sold to toast New Year's Eve than any other time of the year.

There's no need to be bewildered by the variety of sparkling wines and champange on the market, says Winner. Here are some tips from Winner that will have you buying bubbly like a pro.

Strictly speaking, only sparkling wines produced in the Champagne region of France and consisting of grapes grown in that region can be called Champagne. However, many sparkling wines use the word champagne on their labels but qualify the usage. For example, Great Western, which makes several popular and relativelly inexpensive sparkling wines, calls its product "New York State Champagne."

Sparkling wines have their own language. A wine labeled "ultra brut" is the dryest, or least sweet of all. Next in dryness comes "brut" and "semi-brut." A sparkling wine labeled "extra dry" or "dry" is sweeter than brut. Finally, some sparkling wines may be labeled "extra sec" which is dry, "sec" which is slightly sweet or "doux" which is very sweet. The labeling is based on the amount of "dosage"or sugar which may be added to the wine.

Rose sparkling wines are becoming increasingly popular. They get their color from pinot noir grapes. Most sparkling wines and ++ champagnes are composed of a combination of grapes.

The standard trio is a combination of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. Wines labeled Blanc de blancs have been made exclusively from white Chardonnay grapes. A sparkling wine labeled Blanc de noirs has been made from Pinot Noit and Pinot Meunier grapes.

A sparkling wine labeled vintage means that it represents the wine of a specific year. It will be dated. Non-vintage wine is a blend of wines from the current and previous harvest that is prepared each year to be consisdtent with the style of the particular champagne house.

To keep the bubbles flowing be sure to serve the sparkling wine in a tall and slender glass, like the glasss in our photograph. This type of glass keeps the bubbles rising in a steady stream from bottom to top. Also, be sure to use dry glasses for each serving. Wet glasses dampen the bubbles.

Sparkling wines should be served between 42 and 48 degrees. If the wine is too cold it loses its taste. If it's to warm it is heavy and the sparkle dosen't keep. Cool the champagne as gradually as possible, never use your freezer. It is best to put the wine in a champagne bucket in a mixture of water and ice.

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