Around the year-end holidays, we decorate our homes and take extra care to cook delicious food fit for our families and friends. An important part of the recipe for festive times, of course, is something spirited to drink.
There is no shortage of possibilities, of course, from all the usual choices to only-in-December specialties with Christmas-spice flavors. But here's another idea: Why not bring life and glitter to the proceedings with a Champagne bar?
Set up a corner table — or a corner of your table — with several varieties of brightly hued, flavorful crushed or finely chopped fresh or frozen fruit (strawberries and/or other berry varieties, peaches, kiwi fruit, almost anything), some sprigs of mint, and an ice bucket or three holding bottles of a good sparkler. Put out your best wine glasses (no need for flutes) and even, if you wish, some ice (pouring sparkling wine over ice is not a sin!). Let guests stir up their own holiday concoctions.
Besides the big names — we recommend anything (even the comparatively less expensive bottlings) from Moët et Chandon, Bollinger, Krug, Billecart-Salmon, Mumm, Taittinger, Piper-Heidsick, or Perrier Jouët — there are also many lesser-known labels worth considering. As your wine merchant if he has any "grower Champagnes" — estate-bottled wines from smaller producers who own their own vineyards. These are often extraordinary and fairly priced. Or consider a top-of-the-line cava from Spain's Catalonia region (Freixenet and Codorníu are the most widely distributed ones), or a California sparkling wine from Domaine Chandon, Gloria Ferrer, Mumm, or another good producer. Good bubbles are good bubbles, no matter where they come from.