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Celebrate Everyday; Fat Cork's motto. (Image: Fat Cork)

Where To Buy Champagne, and What To Do With It (Besides The Obvious)

Say it with me, "it’s so lovely, sippin’ on bubbly." As 2016 draws to a close and New Year’s Eve parties beckon, let’s toast to the year that passed and to the year ahead with sparkling wine. A drink that befits any special event or that makes any event special.

Two years ago, I wrote this Sparkling Wine 101 guide to rev your engines for all things Champagne, Cremant, Cava, and all other sorts of bubbles, it is now time to set our sights on what else we can do with sparkling wine. We’re talking cocktails and the other fun and frivolity that comes alongside sparkling wine.

Where to get sparkling wine
When I’m ready to buy champagne, my first stop is Fat Cork in Lower Queen Anne. This shop from Bryan Maletis and team stocks dozens of different bottles of sparkling wines from smaller ‘grower champagnes’ throughout France. You’ll find bottles of different styles and pricepoints and from producers you may not be familiar with. Be sure to visit their shop, gaze longingly at the bottles inside their charming space, and converse with Bryan about sneakers and champagne. (Check out the gallery for pictures of Fat Cork's shop.)

For other sparkling wines to try, Washington has a few wineries that specialize in sparkling wine and are relatively easy to find. Treveri and Domaine Ste. Michelle are leaders in Washington sparkling wine. Robust production makes them accessible in most grocery stores and wine shops. Treveri’s suite includes sparkling wines from several varietals like Syrah, Gewurtraminer, and Riesling to go along with their Blanc de Blanc and Blanc de Noir bottlings. Domain Ste. Michelle has five options in their portfolio and all would be welcomed at any party.

How to drink sparkling wine
Easy answer is to pop the bottle and start pouring. I like my sparkling wine with a little chilled, but feel free to drink it however you like. If you’d like to expand your sparkling wine horizons, how about a few cocktails that feature bubbly? An Aperol Spritz would be a great way to get the party started. Refreshing and lively, it’d make for a great drink to start the evening. It combines Aperol (an Italian aperitivo), Prosecco, and a splash of soda water. For another cocktail that features sparkling wine, a French 75 would be a hit. Combining Gin, Champagne (preferably, but other bubbly would work), simple syrup, lemons, and ice, this cocktail will easily get the good times rolling. And if the good times keep rolling into the next morning, the Mimosa is always apropos. Combine sparkling wine and orange juice to your liking and bottoms up.

A note on how to Saber
Seattle Refined recently went to Whistler to learn how to saber (called Sabrage) and the intrepid Carey did so with aplomb. If you want to try to saber yourself, don't. But you're probably stubborn, so rule #1 – Be Careful. Rule #2 – Be Careful. You’re dealing with a glass container with contents that are pressurized. Now that you’ve been cautioned, here’s how to do it, but don't try it at home, I’ll just describe the experience. On a bottle of sparkling wine, you’ll notice a seam running along the length of the bottle. Where the seam meets the lip of the bottle is the weakest point of the bottle. This is where you want to strike. There are swords designed to saber that have a blunt edge and enough heft to not ding a blade. This is not the time to use your chef’s knives. Get a feel for the curve of the bottle and then take a solid whack at the neck. If you’ve done it right, the top should shear right off. And don’t worry about glass getting back into the wine. There is enough pressure that everything pushes out, not in. But be careful with that opening as it’ll be sharp. After that, pour to your heart's content, celebrate whatever and cheers to a great year. But be careful, or ask someone who has sabered before to do it. Like me.