There’s roughly a day or two left in 2016, which means that at some point in the next 24 hours you’re going to head out to make your annual champagne purchase. You’ll wander in to your local liquor store, where you’ve asked countless well-researched questions about small batch bourbons and debated the merits of one Barolo over the next, and yet you’ll be undone by the prospect of having to buy a simple bottle of champagne. You’ll keep your head down and walk over to the case and do what you did last year and the year before and you’ll plunk down 45 bucks for that comforting, distinctive yellow label of Veuve Clicquot. To you, that’s champagne. It’s unimpeachable and inoffensive. It’s not bad champagne or great champagne, but it’s the champagne you get what you don’t know what champagne to get.
And it was that annual, mostly joyless, purchase got us thinking that maybe our whole approach to champagne – from the liquor store intimidation to the silly gas-trapping flutes it’s served in – needs to be shook up a bit. So we turned to Ariel Arce, partner and sole employee of the Riddling Widow, a basement champagne bar in Manhattan’s Greenwich village and the only person we know who’s cool enough to spin Biggie records while pouring Blanc de Blanc. The first lesson she taught us? You don’t need a holiday to drink Champagne. Any day is a champagne day. Even New Year’s Eve.