Happy (almost) new year, everyone! As you prepare to usher in 2024, remember to grab a bottle of something bubbly. I’m here to help you decide how to buy those bubbles… or not. But before we go there, have you ever wondered WHY we drink champagne on New Year’s Eve? As with many of the finest and fanciest things in life, it all began with the French…
In the 400s AD, King Clovis united France and, in a promise made to his wife, celebrated by becoming a Christian. He was baptized on Christmas Day in 496, in Reims (the very heart of the Champagne region) and local wines were part of the ceremony. As champagne continued to be perfected in the region, it became synonymous with celebration. And not just at the holidays – to this day it is traditionally served at weddings, broken over newly christened ships, etc.
So, while we have a distant French king to thank for this delicious beverage, we now have lots more options worthy of a celebration. If a bottle of Dom Perignon (and yes – he was a real French guy too!) isn’t in your budget, here are some options:
· Prosecco is massive popular these days. We can’t call it champagne because, technically speaking, a champagne must come from grapes grown in (you guessed it), Champagne. Prosecco is primarily made from grapes grown in Italy. A delicious bubbly, prosecco tends to be on the brighter and fresher side. And it’s also often found at lower prices too.
· Closer to home, there are many wonderful American and Canadian sparkling wines worth checking out. Think sunny California vineyards and the cooler climes of Canada near the biggest bodies of water. It’s definitely worth giving both regions a taste to find your favorites.
· And, of course, there are non-alcoholic bubblies too. Not just for the kid’s table anymore, sparkling booze-free beverages have come a long way. So, if you are starting your Dry January at the stroke of midnight, lay in some delicious sparklers now!
Not sure what you are doing when standing in the sparkling aisles? Don’t be afraid to ask for help! There is no point shelling out big bucks for a bottle of champagne that you might not like anyway. And if you want to find any of the bottles above grown in the best regions AND at the best prices, skip the supermarket aisle.
Here are some ideas for bubbles shopping with the experts in the greater Jax area:
· As the saying goes, “Go big or stay home”. Total Wine is always a good choice to bring your questions and your curiosity about wines. Here you’ll find knowledgeable salespeople, roaming vendors, tasting opportunities, and suggestions and “staff picks” throughout the store. This, combined with a staggering array of bottles, makes Total Wine a good choice every time.
· ABC Liquors boasts >10,000 different wines, spirits, and beers in a typical store – along with a walk-in humidor for cigars. If you can’t find something at this ubiquitous Florida outlet, you aren’t trying!
But if you’d prefer to shop local, here are a couple to try:
· In town, look no further than Riverside Liquors, who have been “matching wine with people” for over 50 years.
· At the beach, Royal Palm Village Wine and Tapas features >1,200 bottles, paired with expert advice from the friendly service team.
· In Nocatee, check out the Coastal Wine Market and Tasting Room for nice wines AND a free monthly wine club.
No matter what you plan to drink or where you buy it, know that I will be raising a glass to YOU, dear readers, and wishing you a wonderful new year!
And if a new house is part of your 2024 resolution, please give me a call at 904.742.3442!