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New Year's Eve, Three Ways

For romantic duos, madding crowds and everything in between, we've got menus, recipes and great sparkling wine suggestions

Posted: December 26, 2006

A "First Night" Party With Friends and Family

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.

Wine Score Price
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. —J.L.
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. —J.L.
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. —H.S.
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. —H.S.

A Cocktail Buffet

  Deviled quail eggs with caviar.
Planning to ring in 2007 with some small, luxurious bites that will complement your bubblies? If there is ever a night for splurging on delicacies, New Year's Eve is it. While Beluga caviar from the Caspian Sea remains off the table, thanks to an import ban from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there are plenty of alternatives from the United States, France and South America. Find the one you like best and serve it three ways: Fresh Caviar, Russian Style and Deviled Quail Eggs Topped With Caviar on Toast, and Thomas Keller's Oysters and Pearls, in which the caviar luxuriously garnishes a gratin of oysters and tapioca. Serve Lobster-Truffle Arancine With Lemon Zest and Salmon and Tuna Tartare on Cucumber Discs With Wasabi Tobiko and Bananas on Wonton Crisps to round out a grown-up New Year's buffet.


Wine Score Price
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 made. —B.S.
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. —J.L.
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. —B.S.
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. —J.L.
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. —J.L.

Dinner for Two

  Meyer lemon soufflés.
Some wine lovers choose to skip the raucous parties and make New Year's Eve a romantic date night, without all of the sugary, rose-petaled trappings of Valentine's Day.

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.



Wine Score Price
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.—J.L.
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. —B.S.
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. —B.S.

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