Don't wait till New Year's Eve: Build a cocktail party around bubbles and bubbly, and conversation won't be the only thing that sparkles.

How to Throw a Champagne Cocktail Party

pink party table


Your sparkling shindig will be a surefire hit if you...

Don't bother buying flutes!

Regular old white-wine glasses are actually great for sniffing a sparkling wine's bouquet, says 11th-generation glassmaker Max Riedel. Flutes trap the aromas.

Tell friends to bring a bottle.

Give each guest a category, like prosecco, cava or even sparkling sake, and see what they find.

Keep a few ice buckets around the room so all bottles can stay cool. Fill a bucket about halfway with ice, add a little water, and make sure you keep a towel handy for drips.

Don't forget spring-loaded cork stops. Made especially for sparkling wines, these hold the bubbles in the bottle between pours. They're about $5 a pop (get it?) at liquor and wine stores.

Swirl your party dress, but not your sparkling wine--it kills the bubbles!

Save your leftover champers.

Use the extra the next day for risotto or salad dressing, or freeze it into ice pops, with simple syrup, orange juice and mint.


rose party wine


Color aside, rosés follow the same rules as other wines, so choose the style (dry, off-dry, sweet) according to what you like. But their taste differs: Just a little contact with the skin of a red grape adds a new dimension of flavor.

WITH Rosé: Pork, chicken or beef appetizers; mushrooms; dishes heavy on herbs (especially thyme, sage and rosemary)

dry party wine


The term is less about flavor than an absence of sweetness, which makes the wine feel crisp in your mouth. (It's also known as "brut.") Look for words like "blanc de blancs"--literally, white (wine) from whites (grapes)--or "blanc de noirs" (white wine from red grapes) on champagne, cremant or cava bottles.

WITH Dry: Breads and crackers; creamy, rich cheeses and dips; eggs and shellfish

sweet party wine


When you're trying to find a match for cakes and pies, look to sweet sparklers. (They can also replace your dessert course entirely, but where's the fun in that?!) Think demi-sec ("half-dry") or doux ("sweet"), and look for brachetto d'acqui from Italy.

WITH Sweet: Rich cakes with vanilla frosting; fruit-filled pastries; buttery cookies

off dry party wine


Slightly sweeter than brut, these sparklers have a touch of sugar that goes well with salt and spice. Find labels with the word "sec" (which translates to "dry"), and also go for purple lambrusco, fuchsia-tinted bugey-cerdon, and prosecco or asti.

WITH Off-Dry: Chorizo; dried sausages; nuts; spicy foods


They're festive, both in your glass and around your home!

Table: Fill a tall, clear vase with "Mr. Bubble" iridescent glass bubbles for a shimmery centerpiece. $12 for 12,

Room: Using fishing wire or ribbon, hang glass bubbles from the ceiling and fill with large flower blooms. $9 and up,

Punch Bowl: Make geometric ice cubes with a spherical ice tray. A bonus: The 2-inch ice balls melt slower, which will keep your champagne punch from getting diluted too fast. $16,