If you're celebrating with guests of all ages, you'll want to rely on some simple, crowd-pleasing favorites that are accessible to a range of palates, from young and finicky to highly refined. If you can't find a frying volunteer, you still can make our Southern Fried Chicken With Creamy Gravy before guests arrive and hold it in a low (200°F) oven until you're ready to serve—or skip the gravy and serve the chicken cold, picnic-style, as a reminder of the warmer days ahead. Serve the chicken with Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Green Salad With Vinegar Dressing, and Italian Chocolate Brownies for dessert.
|DOMAINE CHANDON Brut Napa-Sonoma Counties Reserve NV||90||$18|
|Rich and deliciously yeasty,
showing aromas of pear, fig and cinnamon, with flavors that are layered and complex. Nice
lingering finish. Drink now through 2010. 6,000 cases made.
|GLORIA FERRER Brut Sonoma County Sonoma NV||90||$18|
|A delicious mouthful of bubbly.
Smooth, rich and creamy, revealing layers of black cherry, vanilla and ginger, with a hint
of lemon drop. Finishes with a long, refreshing aftertaste of mineral and fruit. Drink now.
93,500 cases made.
|YELLOWGLEN Pink Australia NV||87||$12|
|A soft, creamy sparkler. Lightly
sweet and pleasantly rich, with strawberry and rhubarb flavors, lingering gently. Drink now.
60,000 cases imported.
|DOMAINE STE. MICHELLE Brut Columbia Valley NV||87||$12|
|Smooth and generous fizz,
appealing for the lime and tangerine accents to the pear and toast flavors, lingering well.
Drink now. 195,000 cases made.
|Deviled quail eggs with caviar.|
|DUVAL-LEROY Brut Champagne NV||93||$35|
|A big, full-bodied bubbly,
featuring graphite, toast, lemon and nut aromas and flavors. Balanced, with an assertive
finish. Will improve with a few months of cellaring. Drink now through 2009. 35,000 cases
|DOMAINE CARNEROS Brut Carneros 2003||91||$25|
|Graceful and complex, with fresh
cherry, spice and citrus aromas and impeccably balanced and well-structured flavors that
emphasize creamy toastiness. The finish fans out and lingers, turning delicate and fleshy.
Drink now through 2009. 30,000 cases made.
|GEORGES GARDET Brut Champagne Cuvée St.-Flavy NV||91||$29|
|Firm and harmonious, featuring
peach, apple, honey and spice notes. Picks up some citrus accents toward the finish, which
is long and mouthwatering. Drink now. 20,000 cases made.
|SCHRAMSBERG Brut Blanc de Noirs Napa-Monterey-Mendocino-Sonoma Counties 2002||91||$33|
|Aromas of yeasty dough, cherry and
lead pencil turn rich, intense and complex on the palate, where the flavors are concentrated
and focused. Ends with a pleasantly earthy mineral edge to the Pinot Noir fruit. Drink now
through 2010. 7,154 cases made.
|MUMM NAPA Brut Napa Valley Reserve NV||90||$25|
|Complex, with austere apple, pear
and pleasant earth and mineral flavors that are firm and vibrant, finishing with a cleansing
aftertaste. Drink now through 2009. 8,000 cases made.
|Meyer lemon soufflés.|
If you plan to host a Champagne-friendly dinner a deux at home this year, we suggest beginning the meal with Spinach and Pear Salad With Prosciutto, followed by Scallops With Shiitake, Enoki and Oyster Mushrooms and, for a light and elegant dessert, Meyer Lemon Soufflés.
|DOMAINE CARNEROS Le Rêve Carneros 2000||92||$65|
|A ripe Chardonnay, with complex
aromas of dough, vanilla, spice and hazelnut that turn rich and creamy on the palate,
offering a mix of concentrated flavors with a measure of delicacy and finesse. Drink now
through 2011. 4,000 cases made.
|VRANKEN Brut Rosé Champagne Demoiselle Grand Cuvée NV||92||$47|
|A crisp, elegant style, this is
sophisticated yet reserved. Its depth is indicated by the creamy texture and layers of
cherry, berry and spice flavors. Well-balanced and discreet on the long, berry-infused
finish. Drink now through 2010. 11,000 cases made.
|GOSSET Brut Champagne Excellence NV||90||$43|
|Graphite and mineral aromas
introduce this sleek, vanilla-flavored bubbly. Citrus and candied berry notes enter on the
finish. Creamy, balanced and integrated overall. Drink now. 28,000 cases made.