what: Szigeti Grüner Veltliner Brut

price: $19.99

where: The Gourmet Shop

contact: 803-799-3705

Despite our resolutions for change, so many of our New Years begin with an act of ubiquity — the Champagne toast at midnight on New Year’s Eve. This isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with popping a bottle when the clock strikes 12, merely that the region in France we’re most familiar with doesn’t have a monopoly on delicious bubbly.

Presented for your consideration, the Szigeti Grüner Veltliner Brut from Austria. The land of classical composers, skiing and Arnold Schwarzenegger might not be everyone’s first thought for great wine, yet this bottle dares you to think otherwise.

Grüner Veltliner white wine grapes are highlighted by the traditional method of making Champagne, where a second in-bottle fermentation gives us the bubbles we crave. Take a sip of Szigeti and it jumps out of the glass with effervescence and initial notes of tart apple, rounded out by slight pear sweetness. The bone-dry finish is a welcome end to this toast compared to the cloyingly sweet finish of many grocery store Champagne imitators.

At nearly $20, this isn’t a brown bag swig by the car while your friends shoot fireworks on the wrong holiday type of sparkling wine. Szigeti deserves both your attention and the funkiest soft cheese you can find. Swipe an overpriced artisanal cracker through some stinky French Saint-Nectaire, then drink your Grüner and revel in the complement of their full flavors, hoping the person you’ve chosen to kiss at midnight can handle your adventurous breath.

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