For those who like to mark the end of one year and the start of the next in celebration, let me share some suggestions on choosing wines for the occasion.
The most traditional option is bubbly. From the pop of the cork to the rush of the bubbles, sparkling wines are firmly lodged into the wine drinking world’s collective psyche as luxurious, celebration-appropriate wines.
Sparkling wines are versatile and can range in style from bone dry to very sweet, full to light in body, and very fruity to more reserved.
There is a sparkler to go with nearly every cuisine, making it one of the world’s most food-friendly wines. While Champagne remains the most famous type of bubbly, other wine regions offer some terrific options. Consider, for example:
Cantine del Borgo Reale, Prosecco, Brut (Non-vintage), Italy ($16; mevushal): This is a light, dry, bubbly and a most friendly wine. It offers aromas and flavors of warm brioche, subtle citrus notes, and a crisp apple quality, while being refreshing, palate reviving and very drinkable. Served chilled.
Bartenura, Limited Edition, Demi-Sec (Non-vintage), Italy ($24; mevushal): Presented in a couture-style gift bag, this new semi-sweet Italian sparkler is very light and easy with peach and melon aromas and pear and citrus like flavors, with just enough acidity and bubbles to keep it fresh and fun. Served chilled.
Koenig, Crémant d’Alsace (Non-vintage), France ($30; mevushal): Charming and delicious, this Alsatian sparkler is clean and brisk with aromas and flavors of citrus, apple melon and white peach, with fine, creamy and assertive bubbles that tingle the senses and drive home a lemony goodness. Served chilled.
Not everybody enjoys sparkling wine, however, so some easy and enjoyable still (as opposed to sparkling) red and white wine options also should be on hand. Consider, for example, these Israeli options:
Castel, La Vie, Blanc Du Castel, Israel, 2016 ($23): A charming blend of 50 percent sauvignon blanc, 45 percent chardonnay, and 5 percent gewurztraminer, this is easy drinking, fruity with a refreshing citrus zing, and balanced enough to hold nicely together. Overall yummy.
Dalton, Estate Chenin Blanc, oak-aged, Galilee, Israel, 2016 ($20): This is an excellent new world styled chenin — fruity, textured, and balanced, with inviting notes of citrus, walnuts and pears, and hints of something more tropical. Some nice complexity overall, and a lovely lingering finish.
Castel, La Vie, Rouge Du Castel, Israel, 2016 ($23): This blend of 50 percent cabernet sauvignon, 40 percent merlot, and 5 percent each of syrah and petit verdot, offers nice forward red and black fruit on the nose (dark plum taking the lead) with subtle but distinct herbal and green notes, and a nice underlying morning dew earthy quality.
Dalton, Estate Petite Sirah, oak-aged, Shimshon, Israel, 2016 ($25): Vibrant and rich, softly tannic, with sweet, dark berry fruit and spice notes, with some distinct earthiness. The finish is long and attractive with additional notes of black pepper, sage, lavender, and French vanilla.
If the plan is for more of a dinner party and less a big blow-out bash, consider something a bit more contemplative. For example:
Borgo Reale, Brunello di Montalcino, DOCG (Tuscany, Italy), 2007 ($55; mevushal): Full and inviting, this is a somewhat unusual brunello, with a floral and fruity nose of cherry, dried cranberry, dried rose, blackberry, violet, leather and beef jerky, followed by supple fruit, herbs and a little spice.
Whatever you choose, be sure and drink responsibly — begging forgiveness or for bail is no way to start the new year. L’Chaim!