We don't need champagne at New Year's. We're already having a good time then.
We need it now — in the summer of our discomfort. Jet stream all out of whack. Heat records twice a week. Triple-digit beaches and back-yard decks. Humidity so thick we call it "air we can wear." No holiday 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 red wine is typically served at about 60 degrees and white wine at about 50, but bubbly (except for the really expensive stuff) is at its best closer to 40.
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In fact, the best way to drink $10 to $20 bubbly is to jam it into a picnic ice chest with the brats and the Budweiser. Some cheap, fruit-flavored bubblies you might want to serve over (gasp!) ice.
Some people say summer's for cheap bubbly, because it's hard to concentrate on nuanced flavors in the heat. I would argue that air conditioning has been widely available in America since, oh, about 1960.
■ Non-vintage Pol Roger Reserve "White Foil" champagne, Epernay, France: frothy bubbles, light and lively, with aromas of toast and tangerines, $30.
■ Non-vintage 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.
■ Non-vintage Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut sparkling wine, Columbia Valley, Wash.: tiny, active bubbles, light and dry, with green apple aromas and flavors, $11.
■ Non-vintage Perrier Jouet Brut, Epernay, France: lots of active, tiny bubbles, light and crisp and dry, with floral aromas and citrus flavors, $40.
■ Non-vintage 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.
■ Non-vintage Segura Viudas Heredad Reserva brut cava, Catalunya, Spain: big bubbles, rich and full, with golden apple and spice aromas and flavor; $20.
■ Non-vintage Moet et Chandon Imperial champagne, Epernay, France: lively bubbles, slightly off-dry, with aromas and flavors of green pineapples, oranges and minerals; $40.
■ Non-vintage Yellow Tail "Bubbles" sparkling wine, Australia: sturdy bubbles, sweet raspberry and orange flavors; $10.
■ Non-vintage Greg Norman Estates sparkling wine, Australia: light and frothy, aromas and flavors of tropical fruit and red berries; $16.