by Emma Summers

That time of year is now upon us. The holiday season is coming to an end, but certainly not without one last celebration. This weekend, many will

Cocktail by candle light 1: "With some of...

gather throughout the country and world to celebrate the end of 2011, as well as the start of 2012. Some will attend large clubs and restaurants where the champagne is provided and already picked out, however many in the area will be attending celebrations in their own Houston apartments and houses. Choosing champagne to ring in the New Year can often be difficult with little knowledge of the subject, but a simple guide to options and information can go a long way to ensure a great toast at midnight.

The first step is to choose whether you want to have sparkling wine or go in the traditional route with champagne. Sparkling wine works great for any number of situations, as it provides a tasty and great alternative to the common champagne selections that people seek out for New Years. Sparkling wine will usually have wine grapes from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay or Pinot Meunier. All white grapes will be labeled blanc de blancs. Sparkling wine is created by a second fermentation within the bottle. The bottles will then go through a process of disgorgement and dosage, finally becoming a sparkling wine.

The difference between sparkling wine and champagne is often questioned, but a simple answer can suffice. The only sparkling wine that is considered champagne must be made in the champagne area of France. An authentic style of champagne will be produced from that area of France and here in the United States, the most common bottle you will see is with brut on the label. Some of the other common champagne purchases made in the United States are extra dry, zero or sec. These are champagnes that run drier and a little sweeter.

 With the economy being the way it is these days, you don’t necessarily need to drop a ton of money on a bottle for the New Year. There are plenty of choices when it comes to both champagne and sparkling wine, with heavy availability throughout the United States and the Houston area. In the end, it’s certainly possible to find a quality bottle of champagne or sparkling wine without having to break the bank, ensuring a great New Year’s celebration.