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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, December 27, 2006

TASTE
Sparking holiday

 •  Nutritious macaroni and cheese still comfort food
 •  New Year's Eve party treats with a difference
 •  Milk chocolate pound cake sheds calories, keeps flavor
 •  Culinary calendar
 •  Catching up on requests for recipes
 •  Red rice symbolizes happiness
 •  Take taste buds on journey to Asia

By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Food Editor

HOW MUCH SPARKLING WINE TO BUY?

Expect six servings per 750 ml. bottle of sparkling wine

Instead of Champagne ...

Meet some other sparklers; listed in order of availability in the U.S.

Prosecco crisp, dry Italian sparkling wines made principally from the prosecco grape

Asti spumante Italian sparkling wines from the Piedmont; exports tend to be candy sweet, but better- quality versions are drier

Moscato d'Asti a premium frizzante wine (less bubbly than spumante) made from muscat grapes

Cremant wines sparkling wines from France (particularly Alsace) that have half the bubbles of champagne; often made into cocktails

Sekt German term for sparkling wine; from inexpensive fizzy, light, bubbly versions to very-high-end estate wines

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TASTY, BUBBLY, AFFORDABLE

Among moderately priced sparklers, fine wine specialist Lisa Gmur recommends:

Montsarra Cava ($10-$15)

Paul Cheneau Cava ($8-$12)

Kenwood Yulupa Brut ($8-$12)

Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut ($15-$20)

Seaview Brut ($9-$12)

Bouvet Brut ($11-$15)

Jacobs Creek Brut ($10-$15)

And among moscatos for $10-$15:

Saracco

Cascinetta

Marchese de Gresy La Serra

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So you want to serve sparkling wine at your New Year's Eve bash, but the prices scare you silly? Buy a moderately priced wine and mix cocktails instead.

Although there is a specific drink called a champagne cocktail, it's far from the only such concoction. Fruit juices, liqueurs and the right garnish can turn a just-OK sparkling wine into a sophisticated drink. In France, in regions that produce cremant wines (slightly less bubbly than true champagnes), liqueurs and even herbal teas particularly citrusy verbena are mixed with the chilled wines.

For your champagne bar, chill a tray of flutes and any fruit juices you plan to use. Place the sparkling wine in coolers and pack them in ice. Practice your champagne-opening technique (peel away the cage, cover with bar towel, hold firmly with one hand and twist with the other no prying or popping, please). Cut ribbons of lemon and orange peel. Dig up some sugar cubes; these are used in a number of sparkling cocktails and you need them because a spoonful of sugar will coat the glass, obscuring the wine, but a cube will melt neatly. Invest in liqueurs you like.

The usual formula for liqueurs is anything from a splash to an ounce of liqueur to 5 ounces of wine. For juices, one part juice to three parts wine is common.

CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL

  • 1 cube sugar

  • 2 dashes bitters

  • Chilled champagne or sparkling wine

  • Lemon peel for garnish

    Place sugar and bitters in a chilled flute and fill with wine. Garnish with twist of lemon peel.

    POINSETTIA

  • Craisins (dried cranberries)

  • 1 ounce cranberry juice

  • 5 ounces champagne or sparkling wine

    Place a few Craisins in a chilled flute. Pour in cranberry juice and wine. (The craisins will bob up and down in the drink as they follow the path of the bubbles.)

    KIR ROYALE

  • 6 ounces champagne or sparkling wine

  • 1 splash creme de cassis (black-currant-flavored liqueur)

    Pour both in chilled flute or white-wine glass.

    BLEU BUBBLY

  • 1/2 ounce blue curacao

  • 5 ounces champagne or sparkling wine

  • Fresh lemon and orange slice

    Pour blue curacao into flute and top with wine. Garnish with lemon or orange slice.

    MORE RECIPES

    LONDON SPECIAL

  • Fresh orange peel

  • 1 cube sugar

  • 2 dashes bitters

  • Chilled champagne or sparkling wine

    Place a large twist of orange peel in a chilled flute. Add sugar and bitters. Fill with wine and stir briefly.

    DEATH IN THE AFTERNOON

  • 1 ounce pastis (Pernod, absinthe or other licorice-flavored liqueur)

  • 5 ounces champagne or sparkling wine

    Pour pastis into chilled flute and pour wine over.

    Reach Wanda A. Adams at wadams@honoluluadvertiser.com.