If you're still looking for New Year's resolutions, allow me to suggest one: In 2012, drink only organic wine. In the past this may have been a challenge, but new and delicious organics are easier to find every day. And what better way to kick off a new year of health, wealth and joy, than with a glass of organic champagne?
Speaking of champagne, allow me to clear up a few confusions. As you may know, the word "Champagne" refers to a region of France, so only wines from that region can legally print the word on their label. Sparkling wine and Prosecco (whose name comes from the Prosecco grape) can be just as elegant and delicious, so don't think less of a bottle just because it isn't Champagne. On the other hand, note the difference between "certified organic" and "made with organic grapes". Both are huge improvements over conventional wines made with pesticide-laden grapes -- but some of the ingredients used in the winemaking process may not be organic.
Korbel Organic Brut - $11-15
That's right: This ubiquitous, affordable sparkling wine label has a version made with 100% organic grapes. It was first released in 2009 by the Sonoma, CA winery which has worked to become more sustainable and environment-friendly in its efforts. In the glass, it's crisp and bright, medium-dry with a touch of fruit.
Mionetto Organic Prosecco - $15-20
This Italian import is made not just organically, but biodynamically as well -- and everything from the bottle to the shipping materials are recycled. Like most Proseccos, this wine is golden yellow with a slightly heavier mouthfeel than conventional champagnes. Its flowery, ever-so-slightly bitter flavor is great on its own or with seafood.
Domaine Carneros Organic Sparkling Wine - $20-30
A star of Napa, Carneros is an offshoot of the French label Taittinger. Its wines have always been organic and vegan-friendly, made from organic grapes grown on-site. Choose from the traditional Brut, the pink (but not sweet) Brut Rose, or the pure, light Blanc de Blancs. All have won numerous awards for their fine, balanced and elegant composition.
Jean-Pierre Fleury Organic Champagne- $50-150
If you're looking for a true French splurge, J-P Fleury is your man. His true organic Champagnes have been made with biodynamically grown grapes since 1989. They come in a range of styles and prices; for more information, see this profile of the house and winemaker.