You've got to drink champagne on New Year's Eve, right? Not so fast, my little cherubs. The really good stuff is heartbreakingly expensive and the cheap stuff--well, while it might not be undrinkable, it just might bore you to tears.
I drank a whole bunch of different sparkling wines a while back and I found out a couple of things. Surprisingly, most of the bottles I recorked and took out the next day were still pretty much as fizzy as they had been the day before. Lynne Rossetto Kasper had told me (I just LOVE dropping her name) that a good sparkling wine should still taste good even after it's gone flat. Mine, however, didn't go flat, despite all the dire warnings I'd read about for years. It was fine to drink half a bottle one night and the other half the next. So, that's a nice thing to know, isn't it?
Secondly, I fell in love with Prosecco. When I drink white wines with food, I generally look for something a little acidic, a little minerally, or even a little grassy, like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc if the food is heartier. When I drink whites on their own, I gravitate toward the more complex flavors of Viogniers or Friulis, something that knocks on the door of my palate and demands to come in and be accounted for. And most of us generally drink all these sparklers on their own, don't we? Someone's always popping them open to celebrate this or that, or sometimes, someone will offer you a glass out of the blue to demonstrate their sophistication/quirkiness/lack of any other wine other than the cheap Spanish Cava someone gave them for Christmas. The point I'm trying to make, cherubs, is that usually, food isn't involved when someone thrusts a champagne flute in your hand.
I say, why waste wine-time on something that blows in dry and leaves little behind other than a nagging
worry about a future headache? Grab instead a bottle of something that makes you think a sec, something that makes you pause and linger a moment, something that makes you want to drink a second glass because it's actually really good. I don't have a favorite at the moment, because I'm still in experimental mode, but you know where you might find a really great place to ask for a recommendation? River City Cellars, that's where, because I have myself heard a few of those amazing people who work there actually speak Italian.
If you've already got a bunch of the other stuff cluttering up the fridge though, all is not lost. In the spirit of the Bellini, the famous white peach and Prosecco drink invented at Harry's Bar in Venice and still prepared the traditional way by the Ciprianis at the Rainbow Grill for the cripplingly expensive price of $18 a flute--you know, we all should really ask the price of things when ordering, shouldn't we? Especially when we order more than one drink and then cavalierly pick up the check for the table. We love our friends and we love good things, but it's nice to have actual cash leftover for dinner later and maybe prudence might be a good New Year's resolution for me--I mean, all of us. Where was I again?
Right--something a little different to do to perk up tonight's bubblefest. Did I really just write that? I think I must have been channeling Rachael Ray for a minute. Anyway, while we wait for that to go away, get out a sauce pan, a cup of sugar, a cup of water, and start peeling a two-inch piece of ginger. Chop it up and throw everything into a sauce pan. Simmer gently for, oh, ten, fifteen minutes, and then take it off the heat. Allow to cool completely, strain and pour into a glass container. Refrigerate. Now here's the real recipe:
New Year's Eve Champagne Cocktails with a Kick (damn that Rachel Ray--I only watched her for like, 20 seconds in between channels)
- 1 flute of sparkling wine
- 1 teaspoon ginger syrup
Stir gently to combine and quaff with pleasure. Serves one.