Don't wait until New Year's Eve to uncork the bubbly

Published: Wednesday, Jul. 18, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3D

We don't need champagne on New Year's. We're already having a good time then. We need it now. Jet stream out of whack. Hot days. No holiday weekend break until Labor Day, maybe.

We need bubbly, be it Champagne from France, sparkling wine from the USA and elsewhere, cava from Spain, spumante from Italy, sekt from Germany. Even bubbles from Australia.

It's all good, if for no other reason than that while red wine is typically served at around 60 degrees and white wine at about 50, bubbly (except for the really expensive stuff) is at its best closer to 40.

In fact, the best way to drink $10 to $20 bubbly is to jam it in a cooler with the brats and the Budweiser. And I recently wrote about cheap, fruit-flavored bubblies you might want to serve over (gasp!) ice.

It's the way I barbecue. Open the back door, pull the grill as close to the house as I can, turn the AC to 4 degrees, aim a fan, pour a cold glass of bubbly and slap on the steaks.

Some people say summer's for cheap bubbly, because it's hard to concentrate on nuanced flavors in the heat. I would point out that air conditioning has been widely available in America since about 1960.

Highly recommended: Non- vintage Pol Roger Reserve "White Foil" Champagne, Epernay, France: frothy bubbles, light and lively, with aromas of toast and tangerines; $30.

Nonvintage J Vineyards Brut Rose Sparkling Wine, Russian River Valley: active bubbles, light and lively, very crisp, with aromas and flavors of black cherries; $38.

Nonvintage Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut Sparkling Wine, Columbia Valley, Wash.: tiny, active bubbles, light and dry, with green apple aromas and flavors; $11.

Recommended: Nonvintage Veuve Clicquot, Reims, France: lively mousse, fuller in body, rich, toasty aroma, peach flavor; $45.

2004 Rotari Talento Riserva, Italy: big and lively bubbles, crisp and clean, with aromas and flavors of peaches, hazelnut, spice; $15.

Nonvintage Segura Viudas Heredad Reserva Brut Cava, Catalunya, Spain: big bubbles, rich and full, with golden apple and spice aromas and flavor; $20.

Nonvintage Yellow Tail "Bubbles" Sparkling Wine, Australia: sturdy bubbles, sweet raspberry and orange flavors; $10.

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