A few years back, my wife and I left a big New Year’s Eve party early. The music was great, the crowd was pleasant, but we realized we hardly knew anyone there and we were tired. We got home in time to open a bottle of Château d'Yquem, pour a couple of glasses and settle into our hot tub under a nearly full moon as the echoes of fireworks and cheers of “Happy New Year!” echoed on the hillsides of San Francisco.
The looks I get whenever I tell that story reflect mixed emotions. People seem both horrified and envious. I don’t know what gets them more, that we left a New Year’s Eve party before the traditional countdown, or that we drank something other than Champagne. All I can say is that for us it seemed exactly right, and these days we generally stay home and cozy instead of braving the streets after midnight Jan. 1.
Toasting the new year with Champagne is such an ingrained custom, though, that selecting another wine clearly strikes some as heresy. We liked the moment with the Yquem and hot tub so much that we have reenacted it several times, though not always with the king of Sauternes. Over the years we have opened special bottles, usually something sweet, but not always. I recall a lovely 20-year-old Leo Buring Riesling from Australia, but usually I go with a French Quarts de Chaume, German beerenauslese or Australian rare Muscat. The memory of that sweet wine under the moon lingers.
Besides, Champagne is no longer confined to the celebratory category, as it once was. The makers of sparkling wine have convinced us that it’s OK to drink Champagne any time. This has done wonders for their sales, but it also takes some of the special-ness out of toasting with it, hence my quirky Anything But Champagne stance. (I admit, though, that for during-the-year public toasts we always fill our glasses with sparkling wine of some sort. Appearances count in moments like those.)
I’ll bet others have special wine traditions for the moment we turn the calendar page. What’s yours?
And by the way, Happy New Year, everyone!
Steve Kirchner — Huntington — December 30, 2008 12:45pm ET
Stewart Lancaster — beaver,pa — December 30, 2008 1:02pm ET
Gary Cohn — Cardiff by the Sea, Calif. — December 30, 2008 1:05pm ET
Andrew J Walter — Sacramento,CA — December 30, 2008 1:36pm ET
Pacific Rim Winemakers — December 30, 2008 2:53pm ET
Jeffrey Ghi — New York — December 30, 2008 4:39pm ET
Eric P Perramond — Colorado Springs, CO — December 30, 2008 5:18pm ET
Fred Brown — December 30, 2008 9:41pm ET
Harvey Steiman — San Francisco, CA — December 30, 2008 10:30pm ET
Jeffrey Ghi — New York — December 31, 2008 11:01am ET
John Shuey — Carrollton, TX — December 31, 2008 12:35pm ET
Brad Dubner — Jupiter, FL — December 31, 2008 5:09pm ET
Tim Sinniger — Bend, Oregon — January 2, 2009 1:16am ET
Michael Schulman — Westlake Village, CA — January 5, 2009 1:00pm ET
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