Those of us of a certain age remember American “champagne” – sweet and flat and almost more like 7-Up than 7-Up. If you went to a wedding reception or big party until the 1980s wine boom, that’s what you drank. One of the two worst hangovers I’ve ever had came from that stuff, when I had entirely too much at a newspaper colleague’s wedding in 1980.
That we no longer have to drink that sort of thing is testament to the revolution in American wine over the last 30 years. I may pick at the biggest U.S. wineries for one thing or another (and another and another), but the technical quality of their work is beyond reproach.
Which brings us to the Ste. Michelle ($11, purchased, widely available), which amazes me every time I taste it. This Washington state sparkler (from the same company that does Ste. Michelle riesling, Columbia Crest and 14 Hands) is a stunner – varietally correct, tasty, inexpensive and widely available. if someone had told me in 1981 that I’d be able to go to a grocery store and buy this quality of bubbly, I’d have been appropriately cranky.
It’s zesty and tingling, with green apples, a bit of caramel and a hint of sweetness in the back. Use it to toast the New Year, for brunch on New Year’s Day, or anytime bubbly sounds like a good idea.