Sparkling at New Years

New Years: when sparkling wines sparkle.

Sparkling is perfect pairing with just about any food but, for some reason, many pass on bubbly except for dawn of new year, when it is party drink.

Okay. It is what it is, even if inexplicable. Pointers for your bubbly weekend:

• Sparkling 101: Drink from tall, narrow flutes, not wide, shallow sherbet glasses. The myth that sparkling glasses were designed to cover Marie Antoinette’s breasts is ridiculous. Even if true, remember what happened to her, keep your head on your shoulders,

• Best way to get bubbly from room temp to drink temp: Remove from fridge 15 minutes before opening or put room-temperature bottle in ice water for 15-30 minutes (bucket should be half water and half ice; ice alone takes much longer).

• Remember eye-safety: Cool your sparkling to 45°F or less. Sparkling tastes better and is less volatile when opened at this temperature.

Do not blind yourself or someone else. American Academy of Ophthalmology reports sparkling wine corks fly up to 50 miles an hour from a bottle and can cause serious damage if you are stupid enough to aim it at someone. Careening corks can cause eye bleeding, retinal detachment, iris damage, blindness. Start New Year right, keep your eyesight.

Keep metal cage over cork until you open the bottle.

Remove cork by placing towel over cork, hold the cork, twist the bottle. Eject cork slowly. Only oafs use thumbs to eject corks. Surely you want to avoid oafishness at the dawn of a new year.

Drink responsibly. Happy New Year.

Recommended value sparklers for fiscally responsible celebration:

• Gruet. New Mexico winners, four styles to consider (each about $15): Demi-Sec—touch of sweet, smooth, sip with dessert; Extra-Dry—peaches, snippet of sweet; Rosé—fruity, strawberries; Brut—green apple, crisp classic.

• Freixenet. Black bottle from Spain (each about $8): Wide selection of clean, crisp, high-value party pleasers.