On behalf of wine writers everywhere, I apologize. We were wrong—flat-out bungled the call last New Year’s Eve. With our annual deep dives into the best bubblies for the season, we offered up the rosiest of reasons to celebrate incoming 2021. After a year darkened by the pandemic, this one was going to justify the promise of bottles popped at midnight, with expansive globe-trotting, connections without boundaries …
And, well, here we are—not exactly in the clear. The year did have a few moments: long-haul trips slipped in, foreign business meet-ups in person, destination weddings that side-stepped the gloom of restrictions. But there’s no getting around the fact that the outlook has gone a little dark again going into 2022. This is not the time—or reason—to ditch good bubbles, though! What was it Napoleon reportedly said about the bottles of Champagne he allegedly disbursed to his men heading into battle (which they’re rumored to have sabered and guzzled on horseback)? “In victory, you deserve Champagne; in defeat, you need it.” Or wait, was that Winston Churchill?
Regardless, sparkling wine is called for on December 31, 2021. Great sparkling wine. And this year, the surfeit of superb bottles of bubbly from around the globe is itself reason enough to celebrate, even—or especially—at home. Virtual roaming in the last few months (Zoom-tasting writ large) has turned up terrific bottles from Champagne (of course), Southeast England, Italy, Spain, California and Oregon. All of the sparkling wines here are made in the painstaking traditional Champagne method, and with the exception of the Cava, with the traditional Champagne grapes—Pinot Noir and/or Chardonnay.
Put a few bottles on ice and toast to better times on the horizon. Happy New Year to you!