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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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F&W Best List

America's Most Indulgent Pies

Before you have to stick to your New Year's resolution, here are some suggestions on where to find super insane pies. Read More >>

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Wine Wednesday

Sparkling Wines for New Year's Eve

Platinum Sparkle, a sparkling wine cocktail.

© Tina Rupp

Sommeliers, of course, spend a lot of their time thinking about which wine goes well with which food, or does not go well, or might go well if it weren’t Thursday, and so on. But if you ask a sommelier what wine he or she would like to drink right now, more often than not the answer is Champagne.
 
There’s a good reason for that: Champagne, essentially, goes with everything. It goes with salty dishes; it goes with fatty dishes; it goes with birds and it goes with beasts; with cheese it’s mighty tasty and with vegetables it is sublime; it’s ideal for celebrations and obligatory for toasts; it’s even excellent when poured on its own for no particular occasion at all. Here are some great sparkling wine options, from inexpensive to pricey, that will solve any New Year's wine issues you might have. >>

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The Bubble Report

Champagne Trends: Big News from Big Producers

Here, F&W's Megan Krigbaum offers a visual guide to buying Champagne for New Year's Eve, and the latest news from the region's top producers.

Champagne Matrix

Photos, clockwise from top left: Courtesy of Chartoque-Taillet, Gimonnet & Fils, The Rare Wine Co., Krug, Maisons Marques & Domaines, Perrier-Jouët, Bollinger, Moët, Nicholas Feuillatte.

Charles Heidsieck

This house’s Brut Réserve ($65) has long been a favorite among Champagne insiders. Now it’s even better. By raising the amount of reserve wines in the blend (which have an average age of 10 years) to 40 percent, new chef de cave Thierry Roset has given it remarkable depth and complexity for a basic brut.

Lanson

Lanson recently released a terrifically complex Extra Age Brut ($100), a blend of wines from three great vintages. Even more enticing: The house has also started selling library vintages from its cellars in Reims, some dating back to the 1970s.

Ruinart

With new Interprétation kits, Ruinart helps neophytes judge scents like sommeliers. The NV Brut Rosé kit ($99) has eight vials of scents, from pomegranate to rose, for you to sniff; then you can look for the same aromas in the wine. sherry-lehmann.com.

Trendspotting

Where to Drink Champagne Now

Portland, Oregon's Pix Pâtisserie/Bar Vivant.

Bar Vivant, Portland; Photo © Dina Avíla Photography.

Festive and versatile, impressive Champagne selections are now everywhere, from a tree house in France to Chicago’s O’Hare airport. F&W’s Megan Krigbaum celebrates the news. Plus, Champagne Lexicon so you can know what you're ordering.

Chicago: Bubbles Wine Bar
Finding a good glass of wine at an airport is nearly impossible, but at this new spot in O’Hare, travelers can order Champagnes like Taittinger’s NV Brut La Française and sample artisanal cheeses while waiting for flights. Terminal 3, O’Hare Airport.

 

New York City: Corkbuzz Wine Studio
Owner Laura Maniec (whose expertise we tap for Tasting Workout), wants everyone to drink Champagne every day. So she’s started her Champagne Campaign: Each night starting at 10 p.m., every bottle of Champagne on her list is half-off, including pricey têtes de cuvée like the 2002 Dom Ruinart Brut. 13 E. 13th St.; corkbuzz.com.

New York City: L’Apicio
At his new East Village restaurant, co-owner and sommelier Joe Campanale serves 30 sparkling wines by the bottle. At least eight are grower Champagnes (small-production wines from individual estates). 13 E. First St.; lapicio.com.

Pittsburgh: Perlé
Co-owner Peter Landis developed a special draft system just for his new Market Square spot, which always keeps five sparkling wines on tap. His other 22 sparkling selections are served by the bottle. 25 Market Sq.; perlepgh.com.

Portland, OR: Pix Pâtisserie/Bar Vivant
“Every December, we’ve had 100 Champagnes on offer, but starting last year, I decided to keep them year-round,” says owner–pastry chef–Champagne fiend Cheryl Wakerhauser of Pix and the new Bar Vivant, a tapas bar. 2225 E. Burnside St.; pixpatisserie.com.

Verzy, France: Perchingbar
This unusual treehouse bar sits 18 feet above the ground in a park outside the town of Verzy. Guests can have glasses of Bollinger or Pehu Simonet in the clubby lounge or on the huge wraparound deck surrounded by trees. Plan ahead, though, as it’s open only during warmer months. perchingbar.eu.

CHAMPAGNE LEXICON

Blanc de Blancs White Champagne made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes.

Dosage A blend of wine and sugar that is added to most Champagne at the final bottling to offset the acidity of the wine.

Blanc De Noirs White Champagne made from red Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

Mousse The foam that appears at the top of a glass of Champagne when it’s poured.

Brut Dry, meaning that the wine has a minimal dosage—less than 12 grams of sugar per liter.

Hungry Crowd

BFF with a Famous Chef: Hugh Jackman on Jean-Georges

Hugh Jackman

Photo © Suzuki K/CPi Syndication.

On the screen, Hugh Jackman has played a mutant (Wolverine), a monster hunter (Van Helsing), and, in January’s big-screen adaptation of Les Miserables, one of literatures great tragic heroes, Jean Valjean. But in real life, the Australian actor lives in New York’s West Village in the same building as one of Food & Wine’s favorite chef’s, Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The pair have become actual friends, and so we asked Jackman about what it’s like to hang out with one of the world’s great chefs.

You’re close with chef Vongerichten. What are the best fringe benefits of that?
Getting invited to his country home. I imagine that a lot of chefs are a bit like actors; you know, if you go to an actor’s house, the last they thing they want to do is get up a do a monologue for you. But Jean-Georges is not like that. You go to his house and it’s like living in a Food & Wine photo shoot: There’s lobster, lamb, steak, fish, salad, all done just simply. Lunch at his house was one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life.

Did you pick up any actual cooking tips from him?
“I said, ‘Mate, do you want some help?’ He taught me how to grill chicken. I could never understand why my chicken’s always dry and a little tough, and you know, he taught me all about the brine and soaking in the brine for 24 hours before you grill it. And he taught me how to do lobster—my job was tucking the butter into the lobster while it was on the grill. You’re not going to J.G.V for a low-fat meal—not happening. I look at him and I wonder, ‘How could you possibly cook and eat like that all the time?’ He only eats about two mouthfuls of everything, he’s very disciplined.”

Those are good tips.
Yeah, but now I’m putting the pressure on my son, because Jean-Georges has a daughter. I’m like, ‘Hurry up, come on, this is the marriage! This is what should be happening!’ It’s been arranged.

Related: The Wolverine Diet

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