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SIOUX CITY | As Hard Rock Hotel & Casino's food and beverage manager, Michael Hesebeck is expected to be knowledgeable about all types of New Year's Eve wines and spirits.

However, he is definitely not an expert at popping a cork from a champagne bottle during a photo op.

"No, this did not go according to plan," Hesebeck said, laughing as he cleaned off the back wall of the casino's Wine Bar. "Luckily, I pour champagne more accurately than I spray it."

Indeed, Hard Rock will be teeming with guests wanting to bid a fond farewell to 2017, Sunday night. And many will want a glass of something bubbly as the clock tick-tocks its way toward midnight.

"The holidays are all about tradition," Hesebeck said. "And what's more traditional than champagne on New Year's Eve?"

Still, the effervescent alcohol may be a bit of a mystery for people who only drink it once a year.

Hesebeck said only sparkling wines made in the Champagne region of France can bear its legendary name.

"Many sparkling wines have 'methode champenoise' marked on bottles," he explained. "That means they are made using the same method as champagne but can be made elsewhere in the world."

But not all champagnes are the same.

For instance, a brut champagne won't possess a high level of residual sugar. That means it will be a dry champagne and won't be noticeably sweet.

Got that? OK, let us confuse you then. "Sec" is the French word for "dry." Running counter to what you'd expect to be the case, a sec champagne will actually be sweet. 

Still, it varies. Extra sec means there's a just a trace amount of sugar, sec means the sweetness is more noticeable and a demi-sec will be moderately sweet. 

If you don't like champagne, perhaps a sparkling wine from Italy may whet your whistle.

Hesebeck recommends a sweet, fizzy Moscato or a fruity Prosecco might be more to your liking.

Cocktail connoisseurs might also enjoy a Kir Royale, which combines champagne with a black raspberry liqueur.

Equally as enticing is the Wine Bar's French 75, which is a cocktail that combines champagne, gin, lemon juice and sugar. So, where did the drink get its funky name? It dates back to World War I and the ingredients supposedly had a kick that was likened to being shelled with the powerful French 75mm field gun.

Hesebeck said champagne never goes out of style and fans are as likely to be the twentysomethings than any other age group.

"Champagne is no longer just what we drink to welcome in the New Year," he said. "Any holiday, birthday or celebration is a good time to break out the bubbly."

In fact, any sparkling wine is in style for the holidays.

"My advice is always to drink what you like," Hesebeck said. "There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to holiday wines."

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Food and Lifestyles reporter

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