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TIP OF THE DAY: Popcorn & Wine Pairings

Popcorn & Wine

Chocolate Popcorn Red Wine

Popcorn Wine Pairing

[1] (photo courtesy Hidden Valley). [2] (photo courtesy Coupons.com).[3] Go whole-hog with a pairing flight (photo courtesy Skinnygirl).

 

For the Oscars on Sunday, how about some popcorn pairing fun?

If you typically watch the show with a bowl of popcorn, consider moving past the beer and soda in favor of wine pairings.

Wine and popcorn? Why not?

It’s another opportunity to see how your palate responds to different flavor pairings.

As with all foods, wines are paired to the seasonings of the dish. That big combo can of three flavors—buttered, caramel and cheese corn—enables you to try three different wine pairings, with more flavor pairings below.

WHAT WINE GOES WITH POPCORN?

As with beer, sparkling wine goes with anything, whether white (cava, prosecco), rosé sparkling or red sparkling (such as brachetto d’asti or lambrusco). (See the different types of sparkling wine, and rosé sparklers).

But you can also create a pairing party. Your personal preferences take precedence over “logical” recommendations below. If you prefer pinot grigio or rosé, serve it!

  • Buttered Popcorn: Look for a buttery wine—chardonnay or grenache. Rosé is another option.
  • Caramel corn: Pick a dessert wine, like moscato; or a wine with caramel notes such as Montilla-Morales, or late harvest Pinot Noir.
  • Cheddar or Parmesan Popcorn: Strong cheese flavors require a robust wine, such as cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel or an oaky chardonnay.
  • Chile Popcorn: For Cajun, chipotle, jalapeño, etc., gewürtztraminer, riesling or sauvignon blanc pair with heat. On the red side look at malbec or pinot noir.
  • Dark Chocolate Popcorn: Calling the dessert wines: banyuls, late harvest zinfandel, maury, port, shiraz, vin santo.
  • Global Spices: With curry, harissa and other strong flavors, try gewürtztraminer, riesling or sauvignon blanc.
  • Kettle Corn: Try an off-dry/semi-dry (slightly sweet) or sweet wine: demo-sec champagne, lambrusco semisecco, sercial madeira, sweet riesling.
  • Milk Chocolate Popcorn: Look for montilla-moriles, moscatel de setubal, sherry (amontillado, cream or PX), port, vin santo.
  • Salted Caramel Or Chocolate: Dry sparkling wine works here, or one of the suggestions for chocolate-wine pairings.
  • Salty Popcorn or Bacon Popcorn: Like lots of salt? The best pairing is beer or a Margarita.
  • Truffle Popcorn: Earthy truffles like an earthy wine: barolo,cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinot noir, syrah, tempranillo.
  • White Chocolate Popcorn: Dessert wines are called for, especially brochette d’acqui, ice wine, lambrusco, muscat/moscato, port.
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    POPCORN HISTORY

    Where would we be without popcorn?

    Americans consume approximately 17.3 billion quarts of popcorn each year.

    The history of popcorn—originally not a snack food, but ground into flour for subsistance far.

    The history of popcorn in the U.S.. It was first used by the colonists as a breakfast cereal, served with milk and sugar.

    What makes popcorn kernels pop—only strains developed to pop are used for popcorn.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Affordable Rose Bubbly For Valentine’s Day

    Check the price of Champagne. Even the lowest-level brands are

    Now look at our three recommendations for rose sparkling wine (once called “pink Champagne):

    The first is $13.99; the latter are in the $18.99 range. Why is this a bargain?

    These are sweeter styles, perfect to enjoy as an aperitif, with chocolates or desserts, even at breakfast. Some of our favorite pairings:

  • French toast with strawberries and cassis syrup
  • Bread pudding with chocolate chunks (or chocolate bread pudding)
  • Strawberries in balsamic vinegar
  • Chocolate cake, candy pie, pudding
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    Perpetual crowd pleasers, these wines should be served chilled (as with all bubblies).
     
     
    MARTINI: SPARKLING ROSÉ

    Martini Sparkling Rosé (photo #1—the brand was formerly called Martini & Rossi) is an Italian sparkler made from a blend of brachetto, malvasia and moscato bianco grapes from Northern Italy.

    The nose is delightful, a blend strawberry, rose and tropical fruit aromas.

    The wine is medium-dry, the palate is slightly sweet with ripe berry and peach flavors. The alcohol level is 9.5%.

    This wine also pairs well with seafood, and with cold meats and with creamy cheeses (although we love it with fresh goat cheese, too).

    And of course, serve it with fruit—especially with stone fruits like apricots and peaches, or a stone fruit salad with a dab of crème fraîche or mascarpone.

    You can serve it with light lunches and take it on picnics.
     
     
    BANFI: ROSA REGALE BRACHETTO D’ACQUI

    This delightfully spritzy, full-bodied sparkling wine (photo #2) is cranberry-red in color. The aroma (bouquet, nose) has hints of raspberries and strawberries plus rose petals. What could be more perfect for Valentine’s Day?

    On the palate you’ll taste fresh raspberries. The crisp acidity enables it to pair with the richest desserts, and the elegance makes it a good date for a plate of fine cheeses.

    It also pairs well with seafood and spicy fare.

    Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui gets its name because it’s 100% brachetto, a red wine grape; and the grapes are grownin vineyard located outside the town of Acqui in the Piedmont region of Italy.

    It has the lowest alcohol of the three, at 7.3%: You can drink more without losing the passion.

    Speaking of which, Brachetto has a legend: that both Julius Caesar and Marc Antony sent Brachetto wine as gifts to Cleopatra. Some suggest that Cleopatra fell in love with Caesar over her first sip of Brachetto (the still wine, since sparkling wine had not yet been invented).

     

    Sparkling Rose

    Banfi Rosa Regale Sparkling Red Wine

    Santa Margherita Sparkling Rose Wine

    [1] Martini Sparkling Rosé, pretty in pink. [2] Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui, the color of red roses. [3] Santa Margherita Sparkling Rosé, another fine pink-hued sparkler. All three bubblies are from northern Italy.

     
    In turn, the queen had her lovers drink the wine to unleash their passion. Hence, Rosa Regale, which means royal passion.

    You can shop around for the best price. In our area, we can find a 750ml bottle for around $18.99. But don’t worry about spending a few dollars more: It’s worth it.
     
     
    SANTA MARGHERITA SPARKLING ROSÉ

    This Prosecco (photo #3) is from the Santa Margherita Winery in Trentino-Alto Adige, a hilly area in the province of Treviso, bordering Switzerland and Austria to the north.

    It’s a blend of glera (the process grape), chardonnay and malbec, which provides some of the pink hue.

    The aroma is floral, with what wine insiders call white fruits, plus delicate hints of red berry fruits (strawberries, raspberries).

    The flavor is delicate but vibrant, remaining on the palate (a.k.a. long finish). The alcohol level is 12%.

    For food pairings beyond sweets, look to Italian appetizers, seafood dishes, spicy foods, and the exotic seasonings of Asian cuisines.

    You may find it for $18.99, but we had no complaints paying $21.99 for our bottle.
     
     
    NOTE: These wines are meant to be drunk fresh.

    Don’t lay them down, don’t look for older vintages. Drink ‘em if you got ‘em.

      

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    VALENTINE’S DAY: Three Wonderful Food Gifts

    Vinebox Valentine Gift

    VineBox Wines

    Ritual Chocolate Bars

    [1] [2] [3] The Valentine gift box from VineBox, with artisan chocolate bars from Ritual Chocolate.

     

    You could search all over town without finding wonderful Valentine’s Day gifts like these—one with zero calories!

    There’s no need leave home to get them. Just click below to order these online.

    1. FOR THE WINE DRINKER: A WINE & CHOCOLATE PAIRING

    VineBox is a monthly wine-by-the-glass subscription service; but for Valentine’s Day, it has teamed up with artisan chocolatier Ritual Chocolates to offer gift box that anyone can order.

    Three red wines have been paired with two different 75% cacao origin chocolate bars, from Belize and Madagascar.

    The wines include a Chianti from Tuscany, a Crozes-Hermitage from the Rhone Valley of France, and a Don Paolo from the Pompeii area of southern Italy.

    Beautifully packaged—you’ll want to repurpose the empty box or wine vials—the gift includes two separate boxes, with a total of

  • 3 different wines, 6 glasses total.
  • 2 small-batch chocolate bars, 2.12 ounces apiece.
  • Tasting notes and description.
  • A gift card.
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    Both boxes are $69 at VineBox.com; shipping is included.
     
     
    For More Wine & Chocolate Pairings

    Check out THE NIBBLE’s favorite pairings, and our master pairing chart.

    Here’s a guide to pairing sparkling wines with chocolate.

    Here’s how to pair wine with chocolate desserts and other desserts.

     

    2. CALORIE- & CAFFEINE-FREE: LOVERS’ TEA

    This herbal blend from one of our favorite artisan blenders combines red rooibos, baby rose buds and petals, marigold petals, almonds and saffron (a well known aphrodisiac).

    Whether hot or iced, we guarantee the recipient will love it. A four-ounce tin is $16 at Tay Tea.

    The company has another rooibos blend we love, with bits of Belgian dark chocolate and peppermint, called Better Than Sex.
     

    3. ORGANIC TRUFFLE HONEY

    Many truffle-flavored products are flavored with a chemical approximation of truffle flavor and aroma.

    But this jar of Acacia honey, certified USDA organic, is flavored with real white truffle pieces.

    We love dipping it by the spoon from the jar; but more genteel uses include:

  • Cheese condiment extraordinaire, from blues to goats, to Parmesans and beyond.
  • Glaze a duck breast, lamb, roast ham, pork or turkey: just brush on top while the meat rests out of the oven. Ditto as a sandwich condiment with these meats.
  • Drizzle an earthy garnish onto vanilla ice cream.
  • Drizzle over bruschetta with fresh ricotta.
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    Truffle honey turns something simple into something joyous.

    Get yours from Murray’s Cheese, $26.99 for a 4.25-ounce jar of heaven.

     

    Lovers Tea Herbal

    Truffle Honey Da Rosario

    [4] Lovers’ Tea from Tay Tea is an elegant herbal blend. [5] Honey in a perfect marriage with truffles, from Da Rosario.

     

      

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    GIFT OF THE DAY: White Chocolate Polar Bears

    White Chocolate Bears

    White Chocolate Polar Bears

    Mom, dad and the kids are adorable…but not too adorable to eat! Photos courtesy Woodhouse Chocolate.

     

    They may be too old for Teddy bears and Winnie The Pooh, but no one is too old for these chocolate polar bears from Woodhouse Chocolate of Napa Valley, one of our favorite chocolate artisans.

    Give just one bar or the whole family—all with your choice of red or blue snowflake medallions around their necks:

  • Five-inch tall chocolate bear, $12.00
  • Ten-inch tall chocolate bear, $32.00
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    To get a bear, point your mouse to WoodhouseChocolate.com

    John Anderson of Woodhouse Chocolate was a vintner for 20 years before he became a chocolatier. So next up:

    WINES TO SERVE WITH WHITE CHOCOLATE

    From California

  • Fruity Chardonnay
  • Muscat
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    From Europe

  • Gewürtztraminer: (Alsatian and German varieties have more sweetness than American versions
  • Liqueurs: cream liqueurs, creme de cacao, or fruit liquer
  • Mas Amiel: Vintage Blanc, from southwestern France
  • Muscat: (French) or Moscato from Italy
  • Riesling:: Alsatian (late harvest) or German Riesling: Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein (ice wine)
  • Sherry: Amontillado, Brown, Cream or Pale Cream, East India, Moscatel, Oloroso, Pedro Ximénez (PX)
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    DON’T FORGET THE SWEETER BUBBLIES

  • Asti Spumante, a sweeter sparkler from the Piedmont region of northwest Italy
  • Brachetto d’Acqui, an Italian sparkling rosé from the Piedmont region Italy
  • Champagne labeled sec, demi-sec or doux
  • Prosecco and Valdobbiadene from the Treviso area of northeast Italy
  • Other Italian sparkling wines labeled dolce or amabile
  •  
    If you need assistance in the wine department, don’t hesitate to ask one of the staff. That’s what they’re there for.
     
    CHECK OUT OUR ARTICLE ON PAIRING WINE WITH CHOCOLATE.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Pairing Wine & Cake For A Dessert Party…Or Just Dessert!

    Want a dessert party that’s different?

    How about a wine and cake tasting? As with any other food and wine, the right pairings enhance the enjoyment of both components.

    So as not to stress the budget, you can make it a co-op party, assigning different cakes and wines to the participants.

    Select five or so pairings for a group of 10-12; more for a larger crowd. We made all of the cakes as sheet cakes, easy to cut into squares or slivers. It’s tough to cut thin slices of layer cakes.

    Place each cake on a platter with a place cards or index cards to identify them and provide cake/pie servers so people can help themselves, and further cut the squares for smaller tastes.

    We set everything on a buffet: the cakes with the matching wines and wine glasses behind them, plus serving plates, forks and napkins.

    Re the cake/pie servers: It’s nice to have a server for each cake. You can borrow from friends, use metal spatulas and other items you already have, or buy this inexpensive set of five for $11.99.

    These pairings were created by Alice Feiring, an award-winning wine writer and book author; and sent to us by Amara.com, an elegant lifestyle website.

    Alice has provided explanations for why these pairings work (the “Why,” below). If your crowd is interested, you can print the information index cards underneath the name of each cake and wine pairing.

    CAKE & WINE PAIRINGS
     
    1. APPLE CAKE & WINE

  • Wine Type: Off-dry sparkling wine, such as a demi-sec Vouvray from the Loire region of France.
  • Why: Off-dry sparkling wines with a hint of apple or lemon are a perfect pairing.
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    2. CARDAMOM CAKE & WINE

  • Wine Type: Pear cider (an off-dry hard cider also called perry).
  • Why: Pears and cardamom accent each other so well in recipes; the same pairing translates to wine. You can also try this pairing with other spice cakes.
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    3. CARROT CAKE & WINE

  • Wine Type: Ice cider, similar to ice wine, but made with apples instead of grapes.
  • Why: Carrot cake has spicy flavors and creamy frosting, both of which pair well with the intensity, acidity and honey notes of ice cider.
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    4. CHEESECAKE & WINE

  • Wine Type: Aromatic wine, spicy and exotic, such as Gewürztraminer from the Alsace region of France or from Germany.
  • Why: Aromatic wines stand up to dense cheesecakes. The low alcohol level is right for the creaminess.
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    5. COCONUT CAKE & WINE

  • Wine Type: Sparkling, white, gently sweet desert wine, such as Moscato d’Asti from Italy.
  • Why: The light sweetness of a sparkling desert wine complements the less sweet coconut.
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    6. FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE & WINE

  • Wine Type: Oxidized, fortified wine such as Madeira from Portugal.
  • Why: Fortified wines that have been exposed to heat develop a complex muted, caramel-like saltiness—think toffee, dried fruit and orange rind—which complement the ground nuts in the cake.
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    Carrot Cake

    Cheesecake

    Coconut Cake

    Flourless Chocolate Cake

    [1] Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and filling (photo courtesy Harry & David). [2] A classic cheesecake (photo courtesy Cinderella Cheesecake). [3] Coconut layer cake (photo courtesy Taste Of Home). [4] Flourless Chocolate Cake (photo courtesy David Glass).

     

    Strawberry Shortcake

    Pineapple Upside Down Cake

    Nacho Cheesecake

    [5] Strawberry shortcake (photo courtesy G Bakes). [6] The retro Pineapple Upside -Down Cake (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). [7] A savory cheesecake (Nacho Cheesecake photo from Taste Of Home; the recipe link is at #12).

     

    7. LEMON POPPY CAKE & WINE

  • Wine Type: Apple mint vermouth (look for Uncouth Vermouth Apple Mint)—semisweet and fragrant.
  • Why: The bitter from the vermouth accents the almost fruity snap of the poppy seeds.
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    8. OLIVE OIL CAKE & WINE

  • Wine Type: Sparking white wine, like a slightly sweet Malvasia Dolce Frizzante from Italy.
  • Why: The aromatic lightness of a slightly sweet sparkling wine matches the dense olive oil without being overpowering.
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    9. ORANGE-CHOCOLATE CAKE & WINE

  • Wine Type: Dry amber (orange) wine, spicy with notes of orange blossom. Look for amber wines from France, Italy and Australia—they’re relatively new in the U.S.
  • Why: The juicy, slightly tannic wine supports the strong cake flavors without undoing the power of the chocolate orange combination.
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    10. PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE & WINE

  • Wine Type: Sweet white wine such as a Jurançon Moelleux from France—unctuous with good acid and lemon/peach notes.
  • Why: The tropical flavor from the grape, petit manseng, especially from the Jurançon, marries the syrupy fruit. Its extreme acidity keeps the match fresh”.
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    11. STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE & WINE

  • Wine Type: Sparking rosé.
  • Why: The berry fruitiness of sparkling rosé echoes the fragrant strawberries in the cake.
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    12. SAVORY CHEESE CAKE & WINE

  • Wine Type: Savory cheesecake is an appetizer or first course rather than a dessert; or it can stand in for the cheese course or a dessert for people who don’t like sweets! Look for a Carignan, Grenache, Syrah or blend. Check out these savory cheesecake recipes:
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    Blue Cheese Cheesecake
    Basil, Lobster & Tuna Cheesecake Recipes
    Nacho Cheesecake Recipe
    Provolone & Corn Cheesecake

  • Why: Deep red wines are a great match for the sharp cheese flavors.
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    MORE DESSERT & WINE PAIRINGS

    Here are THE NIBBLE’s recommendations for:

  • Pairing Desserts & Wine: everything from crème brûlée to mousse to pie
  • Pairing Ice Cream & Wine
  • Pairing Chocolate & Wine
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    HAPPY NIBBLING!

      

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