Basic bottles of bubbly might work for celebrating birthdays or promotions, but when it comes time to ring in the new year, you should make your champagne selection with care. With all the choices on store shelves though, making a purchase can be overwhelming. So, this year we asked savvy sommeliers around the country to share their favorite bubbly for toasts. Keep reading to see which bottles our experts will be popping at the stroke of midnight.
David Lynch: Owner/wine director at St. Vincent restaurant and wine shop in San Francisco
Bubbly of choice: A magnum ofSorelle Bronca Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry, non-vintage
Why he loves it: I’m a big magnum guy when it comes to celebration. I like everyone to share the same thing. It’s an impressive presentation, but you won’t break the bank.
Food pairing: Seafood—some fried stuff like a fritto misto—would be fun.
Ryanne Carrier: Sommelier at Sea Island Resort, Ga.
Bubbly of choice: Edmond Barnaut Brut Rosé Champagne Authentique, non-vintage
Why she loves it: It has such a beautiful expression of berry fruit; it’s a rosé Champagne that has red wine notes to it. It’s a bigger style with bigger structure and fuller body, and a more flavorful profile.
Food pairing: A rib-eye, medium rare—preferably the cap of the rib-eye so it’s really succulent and juicy. I’d serve it with a horseradish cream so the effervescence in the wine will carry that up even more so.
Sebastien Verrier: Sommelier at The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort in Miami
Bubbly of choice: Krug Grande Cuvée Champagne, non-vintage
Why he loves it: What I love in Champagne is the butter-brioche-croissant character. The complexity and elegance of this wine is what I don’t find in other Champagnes. Six months ago I bought six bottles of Krug. My wife was not happy, but it’s an investment. I have so much pleasure when I open one of those bottles; it definitely makes my day.
Food pairing: You can have fun with some fresh stone crab or Kumamoto oysters; they’re clean, mineral and elegant.
Fernando Beteta: Master Sommelier; education director at Tenzing, a wine and spirits distributor in Chicago
Bubbly of choice: Alfred Gratien Brut Champagne Classique, non-vintage
Why he loves it: It’s a small producer that still ferments in oak barrels and lets the wines develop more richness. There’s a lot of terroir in that wine: It’s grown on 100 percent chalk soil from the Côte des Blancs and Montagne de Reims [regions in Champagne, France]. It has notes of candied citrus peel and honeysuckle, and white truffle mushroom notes you get from a wine grown in chalk soil.
Food pairing: Truffle pecorino (a sheep’s milk cheese) or truffled anything. It’s like crack with herbed lavash flatbread or any type of sautéed mushrooms.
Christopher Gaither: Lead sommelier at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Spruce restaurant in San Francisco
Bubbly of choice: Eric Bordelet Poiré Granit Cider
Why he loves it: The Poiré Granit comes from 300-year-old pear trees that are biodynamically grown [in Normandy, France]. It is so good and it’s only five to six percent alcohol. We’re talking bruised apple, candied pear and rock candy.Champagne is the bomb, but there are so many other styles of wine that have a high level of complexity that go underappreciated.
Food pairing: I would serve it with French fries to be honest. Or maybe beet chips and a little bit of goat yogurt and cracked black pepper. I can be a bit of a grazer.The Poiré Granit has a hint of sweetness, so it pairs well with many foods.
Photos Courtesy of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide