Politics, hurricane/nor'easters, army general dalliances, hockey strikes — it's going to be important to properly celebrate the departure of good-riddance 2012 and the arrival of hope-springs-eternal 2013.

Politics, hurricane/nor'easters, army general dalliances, hockey strikes — it's going to be important to properly celebrate the departure of good-riddance 2012 and the arrival of hope-springs-eternal 2013.

A suitable toast comes from that prolific writer with the single name, Anon., who penned: "May the best of this year be the worst of next."

Of course, the beverage of choice for toasts is bubbly — Champagne, sparkling wine, cava, sekt, spumante, whatever. Any kind, from any place, at any price. To do it properly, use a tall, slim flute, so you can watch the bubbles rise. Those flat, open-mouth glasses are for super-sweet bubblies, so tiara-ed tsarinas can dip their cookies in them.

Be careful, though. Psycho-pharmacologists from the University of Surrey in England did an experiment with a dozen partygoers and concluded that bubbly gets you tipsy and silly more quickly than still wine, although they couldn't say exactly why. Maybe something about speeding it into the blood stream. And they said the tall flutes exacerbate the problem because they preserve the bubbles longer than the flat glasses.

So get a designated driver.

Gee, all this sounds kind of negative. Which isn't right, because bubblies are some of the world's happiest, most ethereal wines.

So let's end with a more optimistic toast by Oprah Winfrey: "Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right."

Highly recommended:

2004 Gloria-Ferrer Carneros Cuvee, Carneros (55 percent pinot noir, 45 percent chardonnay): aromas of fresh-baked brioche and vanilla, persistent tiny bubbles, ripe pear flavors, long, creamy finish; $60.

Nonvintage Gloria-Ferrer VA de VI, Carneros (89 percent pinot noir, 8 percent chardonnay, 3 percent muscat): lightly sweet from muscat grapes, ripe peach and apricot flavors, tart finish; $22.

2002 Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage Rose, Epernay, France (51 percent pinot noir, 28 percent chardonnay, 21 percent pinot meunier): persistent foam, amber color, rich strawberry flavors, opulent, long finish; $65.

Nonvintage Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve, Reims, France 1/3 percent pinot noir, 1/3 chardonnay, 1/3 pinot meunier): myriad tiny bubbles, opulent aromas and flavors of tropical fruit, cherries and hazelnuts; $65.

Nonvintage Champagne Bollinger, Special Cuvee (60 percent pinot noir, 25 percent chardonnay, 15 percent pinot meunier): toasty, yeasty aroma, myriad tiny, persistent bubbles, flavors of apple pie and peach tart, firm structure, long finish; $90.


Nonvintage Gloria-Ferrer Blanc de Noirs, Carneros (92 percent pinot noir, 8 percent chardonnay): lots of tiny bubbles, black cherry flavors, tart finish; $22.

Nonvintage Gloria-Ferrer Sonoma Brut, Sonoma (91.2 percent pinot noir, 8.8 percent chardonnay): hazelnut aromas, flavors of golden apples, firm structure; $22.

2004 Gloria-Ferrer Royal Cuvee, Carneros (67 percent pinot noir, 33 percent chardonnay) yeasty aroma, ripe pear and caramel flavors, persistent bubbles; $32.

2008 Biltmore Estate Blanc de Blancs Brut, North Carolina (100 percent chardonnay): energetic bubbles, flavors of mangoes and lemons; $25.

Nonvintage Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta Brut, Franciacorta, Italy (60 percent chardonnay, 30 percent pinot blanc, 10 percent pinot noir): lively froth, bread dough aromas, flavors of lemons and limes; $20.

2002 Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage, Epernay, France (51 percent chardonnay, 26 percent pinot noir, 23 percent pinot meunier): yeasty aroma, persistent bubbles, flavors of hazelnuts and ripe apricots, long finish; $58.

Nonvintage Anna de Codorniu Brut, Penedes, Spain (70 percent chardonnay, 30 percent parellada): lots of active bubbles, aromas of camellias, rich lemon and pineapple flavors, $15.

Nonvintage Woodbridge Sparkling Wine by Robert Mondavi, Calif. (100 percent chardonnay): active bubbles, fruity, lightly sweet flavor of lemons and apricots; $10.

2007 Mumm Napa Blanc de Blancs, Napa Valley (90 percent chardonnay, 10 percent pinot gris): yeasty, toasty aroma, flavors of hazelnuts, vanilla and citrus, long finish; $20.

Nonvintage Domaine Ste. Michelle Extra Dry Sparkling Wine, Columbia Valley, Wash: lots of persistent bubbles, fairly sweet, aromas and flavors of golden delicious apples; $11.

2007 Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta Rose, Franciacorta, Italy (65 percent pinot noir, 35 percent chardonnay): big bubbles, aromas and flavors of red berries; $18.

Nonvintage Gustave Lorentz Cremant d'Alsace Brut, France (1/3 percent chardonnay, 1/3 percent pinot blanc, 1/3 percent pinot noir): yeasty aroma, light and crisp, with green apple and mineral flavors; $25.