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Celebrating a Sparkling New Year

Gruet Commemorative Special Reserve Jeroboam
Gruet Commemorative Special Reserve Jeroboam
Jim Hammond

Normally, this time of year the talk is about sparkling wines and champagne. As obvious as that might sound there are other considerations for those hosting end of year and New Year’s Eve parties. Taking it from the top; the most important person to serve is the designated driver.

This is the person saving those who over-indulge from a DUI; the last thing anyone needs to ring in the New Year, so they deserve special consideration. The hostess can serve them sparkling waters such as Pellegrino and fruit-based non-alcoholic sparklers such as Martinellis’ apple and pear ciders. These are actually good for all the guests before drinking alcoholic beverages, or later, to coast before the final toast. Let those designated drivers know they count too, while waiting for the midnight countdown.

How many guests are descending on that party? If the number is large, and it often is; one might consider adding box wines to the mix. Not the 5-liter jug wines, but 3-liter wines that often get ratings in the high 80s. While that might not suffice for the wine connoisseur, many guests probably will not notice the difference; particularly if the wine is transferred to a wine carafe. It might even fool the wine connoisseur.

Lower cost magnums also save money and look mighty impressive in their 1.5 liter bottles. Sparkling wine magnums often sell at a premium, however, so check the price tag and do the math. Gruet sparkling wines are always a good idea and the non-vintage (NV) Blanc de Noirs, Brut and Rose are always welcome.

Guests bringing sparklers or champagne should make sure the wine is properly chilled. There are many chilled carriers that will insure the wine arrives safe to open. The host should also check each sparkler brought in and place those too warm on ice before opening.

Other choices include mimosa-based sparklers. Southwest Wines’ St. Clair Mimosa wine, now called Soleil Mimosa sold nearly 60,000 cases in 2012 so they must know something. It may even help that these wines are only 8% alcohol, and there is nothing wrong with giving your guest a little vitamin C with their bubbly.

Many New Mexico wines such as Riesling and Pinot Grigio are lower in alcohol that California Chardonnay and offer crisp fruit-forward flavors that please many palates. Alternately; Washington State’s Chateau Ste. Michele has a lock on low cost Rieslings that go from sweet to very dry.

Plenty of water should also be available, and not just for the designated driver. A ratio of two-to-one, water over wine is recommended. The combination of a desert ecology and high altitude added to alcoholic consumption requires proper hydration. Even though many folks will probably say, “Good luck with that!” As the host, one can only try to keep their guests safe and healthy.

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