By Derek Lavallee - 11/09/06 12:00 AM EST
New Year’s Eve is the traditional occasion to reflect on the past, anticipate the future and consider life plans large and small. On Capitol Hill, the first full week of November in even-numbered years is a similar but more significant time.
Just as we hail the New Year with sparkling wine, so should we receive the new Congress. But before I recommend some good values, let me take this opportunity to clarify a common misconception I often hear when talking to people about sparkling wines.
All wines are generally identified into one of two overarching categories — still wine (no bubbles) and sparking wine (with bubbles). In our common vernacular most Americans incorrectly refer to all sparkling wine as champagne. The confusion is a result of nearly a century of deliberate and creative marketing.
So why do most Americans remain confused? Although President Wilson signed the Treaty of Versailles, the U.S. Senate never ratified it, and thus it never became law in this country. American wine producers, mindful of the market’s many romantic images of French champagne, began taking advantage of the loophole once prohibition was repealed a few years later. Thus, sparkling wine made in the U.S. began to be packaged as champagne.
One great domestic value is Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs Sonoma County ($20.00). Like most champagne and sparkling wine, it is made predominantly from the red Pinot Noir grape.
It offers rich, mouth-filling flavors of strawberry, citrus and vanilla. A special technique employed when pressing the grapes allows it to retain a beautiful rosy, almost copper hue.
However you feel about the election results, remember the bubbly is a suitable companion in both celebration and solace. Napoleon Bonaparte, familiar with winning and losing campaigns of an altogether different kind, said: “In victory you deserve champagne, in defeat you need it.”