New Years

Tragically, up to 25 percent of sparkling wine consumed each year in America is consumed in arc between Christmastime and New Year’s Day.

Tragic because sparkling wine is sensationally delicious, food-friendly, liberating, fun any time. Why waste your sparkling consumption quota on end-of-year celebrations?

Long, long ago in a wine-drinking galaxy far, far away, the answer was cost. Good stuff, sparkling made in Champagne region of France, was expensive—still is, for that matter—and much of the other stuff was alcoholic soda pop—bad white wine fizzed up with carbon dioxide. Those days are long gone; so 1970.

Blood-soaked soils and white chalk caves of Champagne still set the world standard for sparkling. Drink ‘em if you got ‘em, but there are alternatives.

Spanish cavas are abundant and affordable. Italian Prosecco, made in Veneto region of northeast Italy and spruced up with DOCG designation, is roaring success, overturning sparkling wine world.

French makers outside of Champagne, makers in South Africa, New Zealand, and Tasmania (Australian island south of Melbourne) produce bubbly that affordably pleasures any palate.

New Mexico, California, New York State, Oregon, Canada make delicious, affordable, quality sparklings on North American soil.

You can sip extra dry (bone-dry, no sugar), brut (faint whisper of sweetness, the most popular sparkling), extra dry (slightly sweeter than brut; most Prosecco is extra dry), demi-sec and sec (both have noticeable sugar, best as dessert wines).

Prices for drinkable stuff begin above $10—Prosecco is the star. Good sparkling made in traditional method (same as used in Champagne, but made in areas outside Champagne) typically are in the $15-20 range. Above that price, quality increases in the $20-50 range. Above that, you are in first tier of actual Champagne.

You can get sparkling for less than $10 (Spain’s black-bottle Freixenet is poster child of that stratum), but those are best when your Bacchanalia roils into its third act.

May you enjoy a happy New Year each day of the year and resolve to drink more bubbly all year long.

Last round: My 2016 New Year’s resolution was to drink less wine. My 2017 New Year’s resolution is to do something really creative with my vast 2016 wine cork collection.