We don’t need champagne at New Year’s. We’re already having a good time then. When we need it is now — in the summer of our discomfort.
Jet stream all out of whack. New heat records twice a week. Triple-digit beaches and backyard decks. Humidity so thick we call it “air we can wear.” No holiday weekend break until Labor Day.
We need bubbly, be it champagne from France, sparkling wine from the USA and elsewhere, cava from Spain, spumante from Italy, sekt from Germany. Even bubbles from Australia.
It’s all good, if for no other reason than that while red wine is typically served around 60 degrees and white wine at about 50, bubbly (except for the really expensive stuff) is at its best closer to 40.
In fact, the best way to drink $10 to $20 bubbly is to jam it in a picnic ice chest along with the brats and the Budweiser.
It’s the way I barbecue: Open the back door, pull the grill as close to the house as seems safe, turn the AC to 4 degrees, aim a fan at my posterior, pour myself a cold glass of bubbly and slap on those steaks.
Some people say summer is for cheap bubbly because it’s hard to concentrate on nuanced flavors in the heat. I would point out that air conditioning has been widely available in America since, ohhh, about 1960. We can open the most expensive bubbly we can find with a $500 tin of osetra caviar from Petrossian.
If you need inspiration, think back to that old Sons of the Pioneers song. “ All day I face the barren waste without the taste of water. Cool water. Poor Dan and I with throats burned dry and so I cry for water. Cool, clear water.”
We’re wine fans. We cry for bubbly.
Nonvintage Pol Roger Reserve “White Foil” Champagne, Epernay, France: frothy bubbles, light and lively, with aromas of toast and tangerines; $30.
Nonvintage J Vineyards Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine, Russian River Valley, Calif.: active bubbles, light and lively, very crisp, with aromas and flavors of black cherries; $38.
Nonvintage Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut Sparkling Wine, Columbia Valley, Wash.: tiny, active bubbles, light and dry, with green apple aromas and flavors; $11.
Nonvintage Perrier Jouet Brut, Epernay, France: lots of active, tiny bubbles, light, crisp and dry, with floral aromas and citrus flavors; $40.
Nonvintage Veuve Clicquot, Reims, France: lively mousse, fuller in body, rich, toasty aromas, ripe peach flavor; $45.
2004 Rotari Talento Riserva, Italy: big lively bubbles, crisp and clean with aromas and flavors of peaches, hazelnut, spice; $15.
Nonvintage Segura Viudas Heredad Reserva Brut Cava, Catalunya, Spain: big bubbles, rich and full, with golden apple and spice aromas and flavor; $20.
Nonvintage Moet et Chandon Imperial Champagne, Epernay, France: lively bubbles, slightly off-dry, with aromas and flavors of green pineapple, oranges and minerals; $40.
Nonvintage Yellow Tail “Bubbles” Sparkling Wine, Australia: sturdy bubbles, sweet raspberry and orange flavors; $10.
Nonvintage Greg Norman Estates Sparkling Wine, Australia: light and frothy, with aromas and flavors of tropical fruit and red berries; $16.
Fred Tasker has retired from The Miami Herald but is still writing about wine for McClatchy News Service. He can be reach at email@example.com.