Aperitivi

Few days encourage classiness like New Year’s Eve does. However, behind the party caps, confetti, and bubbly, there’s always a bit of angst to the day. The dawn of a new year can often bring to the surface memories of what you didn’t do and hoped to, and make festivities of New Year’s Eve feel out of place.

Suffice it to say, it’s always easier to focus on the negative than the positive, and the fact is that you did do a lot this year. If there’s something you didn’t do, try again tomorrow or the next day. You’re harder on yourself than anyone else can be, so ease up every now and again to take in the world around you. In fact, let today be one of those days.

And if you’re planning to raise a glass or stop by the bottle shop for an aperitivo (or apéritif if you prefer the French; I alluded to aperitivi and digestivi a few days ago) to commemorate today’s moment in time, here are a few good options.

1. Tempus Fugit Kina L’Avion d’Or Quinquina

Quinine is a household term largely because of tonic water and the always tempting gin and tonic. But quinine is also an ingredient in several apéritif wines, such as this Swiss quinquina. Created by taking white wine and infusing it with chinchona bark as well as other spices, it takes on a very mellow, smooth flavor that is wonderful on its own, over ice, or blended into a cocktail.

@ Drink Up NY ($34.99)

2. Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla Sherry

If you’re in the mood for something drier, head down to Sanlúcar de Barrameda or simply pick up a bottle of manzanilla sherry. But this is a different kind of sherry than you’re familiar with – it’s not rich or sweet like ports can be, and is known for being more akin to a dry, crisp white wine with a tangy edge. Manzanilla is the name for chamomile in Spanish, and this wine takes on some of that flavor. It’s different than you expect, and a very rewarding apéritif.

@ Fine Wine & Good Sprits ($16.99)

3. French 75 Cocktail

While a direct, simple wine apéritif can be as good as it gets most of the time, other times you need a cocktail. The always pretty and satisfying French 75 is a scene stealer, and is deceptively simple: shake two parts gin and one part each of simple syrup and lemon juice, strain into a champagne flute, and top with champagne or the bubbly of your choice. Garnish with a lemon peel.

Need gin? Grab a bottle of Leopold's @ K&L Wine Merchants ($36.99)

4. Freixenet Cava Cordón Negro

I’m partial to Spanish wines, and while champagne and prosecco get a lot of press, cava is their less known, very affordable cousin. Cava is produced in Cataluña in Northeast Spain, largely in the Penedès wine region, and Freixenet (fresh-ə-‘net) is the best known variety. And you really can’t go wrong – it’s available in a different levels of dryness, and always in the distinctive black bottle.

@ BevMo! ($9.99)

5. LINI 910 Labrusca Lambrusco Rosso NV

Apéritifs are largely lighter in color and crisper in flavor, but if you want to throw a curve ball into the mix, seek out a lambrusco for this evening. With the bubbles of champagne and roundness of red wines, lambruscos are always a hit.

@ Vino Fine Wine & Spirits ($16.00)