Dining Chicago

New Year's Bubbly Tips From the Chicago Restaurant Pros

New Year's and Champagne go together like Bert and Ernie, macaroni and cheese, ducks and dynasties. Bubbly is the quintessential beverage for all New Year's celebrations, but navigating the sea of Champagne to select just the right bottle can be an intimidating task. Just in time for all your New Year's frivolity, several restaurant industry experts weigh in and provide some suggestions for finding the perfect bottle of bubbly.

Matthias Merges

Matthias Merges

Nathan Sears, chef/owner of Logan Square's brand new Chicago Restaurant The Radler and soon-to-open micro restaurant D.A.S., suggests bringing some Txakoli to your New Year's parties. "It's light and a great appetizer wine," he says. "Plus, it will impress your friends." And isn't that what we all want? Or, he says, just get something expensive. We'll go with the former.

Matthias Merges, the chef at the helm of Yusho, Billy Sunday, and recently opened A10, takes some time out of his busy restaurant schedule to share his fondness for grower-producer Champagne. Although he has many favorites under this umbrella, one that stands out for him is Jean Vesselle "Oeil de Perdrix," something he calls affordable and delicious.

If it's a smaller gathering, Paul Virant of Vie and Perennial Virant likes to go for true Champagne like Billecart-Salmon. For larger parties, he suggests bubbly more along the lines of sparkling Vin du Bugey or a Cremant from Alsace.

For value and deliciousness, Marianne Sundquist of Mess Hall & Co., a local preserves and condiments company, likes Gruet Blanc de Noir. Not only is it tasty, but it's also affordable, a recurring theme in successful Champagne BYO-ing.

"Not to be boring, but my honest answer is rather old school," says Steve McDonagh of Chicago Restaurant Hearty, pointing to Veuve Yellow Label as his bubbly of choice. "I love everything about it, from the packaging to the bubbles."

Jay Schroeder, a recent addition to the beverage program at Frontera Grill, would bring Segura Viudas. Sure it's Cava and not Champagne, but at $7 per bottle, he says it's pretty darn good.

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