Hopefully not too many of you will be feeling the consequences of ripping it up tonight over the weekend. Speaking for the Busch / Reisman clan, I can say that we're planning a more quiet New Year's eve celebration than most, owing to the new family addition (midnight diapers and feedings will do that to you). Yet even though we may be skimping on the revelry this year, that doesn't mean we can't share a few tips when it comes to getting the most for the bubbly buck when it comes to ringing in the New Year. So before you uncork your wallet in deciding what to celebrate with tonight, perhaps it's worth considering a few of the following tips to stretch your budget that much further:
1) Jason - We know this may sound terribly boring -- because for many people the label is half the fun -- but the number one Spend Management champagne (and general bubbly) guidance I can provide is to look past the big names and to seek out private label offerings. We recently celebrated a family occasion with a toast featuring Kirkland's (Costco) private label champagne. Rather than pour the wine and hide the label to the fifty or so guests who joined us in the festivities, we told them exactly what it was and requested their feedback. Overwhelmingly, people thought it was great. So save 40% or so off the garden variety Veuve Cliquot and head straight for Costco's wide aisles. You won't be disappointed.
2) Bill – While New Year's eve is traditionally a time when we "pull out all the stops" (a quaint old pipe organ metaphor), it seems more than appropriate to ring in 2011 with some unvarnished thrift. Consider having a champagne tasting with a global flair that begins with lower priced champagne method brands from California, Spain and even France, culminating with the real thing at midnight. Many retailers secure exclusive distribution with importers for some truly great small vintner bubblies. One of my favorites on the East Coast is a champagne method brut "sparkling wine" from Wissembourg, France labeled Comte de Bucques -- fondly nicknamed "Count the Bucks". In blind social tastings -- which are always fun -- this bubbly has impressed many wine snob friends at -- believe it or not -- 1/10th the price of the best from Champagne. Your merchant will undoubtedly have good suggestions too.
3) Above all, enjoy the evening and constrain your labor to popping corks. Save the elaborate home cooked culinary delights for small intimate gatherings throughout the year. Buy a few boutique over the top cheeses and round out your fare with some quite good commodity cheeses and meats from purveyors like Costco and Trader Joe's. Some of their frozen pop-in-the-oven hors d' oeures are also just fine. And consider hiring a neighborhood teenager or two to serve -- it will enhance your hosting and keep them safe.
Sometimes spend does not matter ... if the night calls for Krug, banish the thriftiness and don't feel guilty about it for a minute. Happy New Year!