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BLINGING IN THE NEW YEAR BUBBLY PROVIDES THE SPARKLE.

Byline: Dana Bartholomew Staff Writer

For Tony Zabehi, two words sum up New Year's Eve: Dom Perignon.

``It cost me $400 to buy four bottles right here, and I'll drink the hell out of it,'' said Zabehi, 50, of West Hills, adding a New Year's stogie from Green Jug Fine Wine & Spirits.

``I'll pop it out - and it'll go shhhhhhhhhhh all over the floor.''

If folks' hopes fizzled for 2005, the New Year offers bubbly promise for champagne toasts across Los Angeles. From six-packs of canned Sofia to a $2,000 jeroboam of Perrier-Jouet, revelers will greet the New Year with effervescent gusto, their flutes filled with hopes for 2006.

``Good health and happiness,'' said Micki Jacobs, 38, of Bell Canyon, picking up a $24 bottle of Piper Heidsieck champagne that she and her husband, Ron, will use for a toast by the TV set as the ball drops in New York's Times Square.

Though sparkling wine and champagne sales fell flat after the 9-11 terrorist attacks of 2001, the fizz is back.

Last year, Americans bought 30 million gallons of sparkling wine, according to The Wine Institute, a trade group, with sales this year appearing even brighter.

For the 52 weeks through Thanksgiving, Americans spent $611 million on bubbly, according to the ACNielsen marketing firm, compared with $572 million in 2004.

On Friday, residents stocked up on their favorite carbonated cuvees.

``It represents happiness,'' said David Breitstein, who founded Duke of Bourbon in Canoga Park with his wife, Judy, 39 years ago. ``That good things will happen to you in the New Year ... good for the San Fernando Valley, good for Los Angeles, hopefully a very peaceful year in the world.''

While Duke of Bourbon features a Napa-born bottle of Schramsberg champagne named in the store's honor, Green Jug features a hot pink bottle of $380 Cristal rose.

And while both stores sell a range of bubbly, Dom Perignon - arguably the most famous champagne - is not their premium.

``It's expensive, but too pedestrian - you gotta try something different,'' insisted Green Jug owner Mike Gruner, who opened his West Hills market with his wife, Audrey, more than three decades ago.

``We're not married to these labels. We're always looking for a new date.''

At the Valley Inn, hundreds of guests will gather inside the historic bar to raise a glass of Chateau St. Michelle champagne. ``It's going to be a fabulous year,'' declared inn owner Sophia Brodetsky.

At the Johnsons' home in Simi Valley, Mike and his wife will toast their home remodel - and a potential University of Southern California victory over Texas at the Rose Bowl.

And at the Liebermans' home in West Hills, Julian and his wife will toast ``less war, less hurricanes, less earthquakes - and a cure for AIDS'' in 2006.

For Zabehi, favored guests will get the $99 Dom Perignon. And ``for people I don't like,'' he said, they can drink the $8 Korbel.

Dana Bartholomew, (818) 713-3730

dana.bartholomew(at)dailynews.com

CAPTION(S):

3 photos

Photo:

(1) Green Jug owners Audrey and Mike Gruner are happy with the hike in sales of champagne at their Woodland Hills wine shop.

(2) Duke of Bourbon shop owner David Breitstein cradles his favorite Schramsberg champagne.

(3) A large bottle of Perrier-Jouet champagne sells for $3,000, complete with its own wooden case, at Duke of Bourbon.

Joe Binoya/Special to the Daily News
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 31, 2005
Words:566
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