Angela Swartz/Daily Journal
Wine consultant Dan Taggart pours a tasting of champagne at Draeger’s in San Mateo.
With it being New Year’s Eve, champagne sales are in full swing today.
Local stores are prepping for sales of one of the favorite bubbly drinks of the holidays and this is a very busy last two weeks of the year for many.
Dan Taggart is a wine consultant for Draeger’s supermarket, which has a location on Fourth Avenue in San Mateo. For the specialty store’s wine department, New Year’s Eve is the second highest sales day after Christmas Eve. He says this year, increasingly small, artisan French producers are selling well.
“As people learn small producers have high quality champagne, it’s becoming equivalent to supporting a local artist,” he said. “Major brands, like (Domaine) Chandon, always sell well, particularly in the holiday season, but consumers are learning champagnes are great wines with food.”
A popular New Year’s Eve beverage, champagne is defined as a sparkling wine produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France following rules that demand secondary fermentation of the wine in the bottle to create carbonation. Some use the term as a generic term for sparkling wine, but many countries reserve the term exclusively for sparkling wines that come from Champagne and are produced using the rules.
For those seeking the high quality of champagne without a high price, Taggart suggests sparkling wine alternatives, including Cavas from Spain, Crémant from another district of France and other sparkling wines from Argentina, Australia and Italy.
“Champagne is world-renowned, so the price is also world-renowned,” he said.
Weimax Wines & Spirits on Broadway in Burlingame sells a lot of champagne from small growers. You can get a good bottle of good champagne for $35 to $60, said owner Gerald Weisl.
“They range from small family-owned estates who grow their own grapes and make their own champagne,” Weisl said. “We’re selling quite a bit this year. It’s a great gift item during the December holidays. Our philosophy is only drink champagne with days ending with letter ‘Y.’”
Marie Courtin, champagne from a tiny estate in the southern part of Champagne has been selling well, Weisl said. Weisl agreed champagne is popular all year long because it goes well with food.
For those not so keen on the taste of champagne, alternatives to consuming champagne straight up include the mixed drink Kir Royale. This cocktail mixes champagne and the sweet blackcurrant liquor creme de cassis. Additionally, there’s always mimosas, with orange juice and champagne, and the Poinsettia, with orange liqueur, cranberry juice and champagne.
In terms of etiquette, Taggart recommends using a small white wine glass over using a narrower champagne flute.
“You can smell the aromas,” he said. “Getting your nose in the glass makes a difference. The shape also allows the carbonation to disperse.”
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