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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Wine

TIP OF THE DAY: Rose Champagne With Turkey

Each year at this time we get queries about the best wine to serve with turkey. Click over to see our list of “turkey wines”: delicious, affordable choices in red, white and sparkling wines.

One wine we left off of our original list is a crowd pleaser: rosé Champagne. The dark fruit flavors make it a delightful match for turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, butternut squash soup, roasted Brussels sprouts and the rest of the menu.
 
Party Favors

Not only will it thrill at the table; if you’re into nice party favors, you can use splits as place settings. Tie a ribbon around the neck and thread a card with the person’s name. We’ve seen rosé splits from Nicolas Feuillatte’s and Moet & Chandon and Pommery (from $12-$15); your retailer may have others.

But for only $10 for a full-size bottle, we really enjoy [yellow tail] Bubbles Rosé from Australia (yes, it’s spelled lower case and in brackets) and Martini Sparkling Rosé Wine from Italy.
 
Dessert & Brunch

For dessert, the delicate sweetness of a demi-sec rosé, such as Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte’s D’Luscious and Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial Rosé, pairs with most desserts. Those who don’t indulge in dessert—or have no room left for it—will enjoy sipping a glass.

   

nicolas-feuillatte-brut-rose-split-230

Quarter bottles of Champagne are sparkling party favors. At left, Brut; at right, Brut Rosé. Photo courtesy Nicolas Feuillatte.

 

sparkling-rose-with-strawberry-martini-230

Sparkling rosé wines from Australia and Italy are very affordable—some just $10 for a full-size bottle. Photo courtesy Martini.

 

Recork any leftover bubbly with a Champagne recorker and mix it with pink grapefruit juice for a Grapefruit Mimosa. There’s a recipe below.
 
WHAT IS ROSÉ WINE?

  • Also referred to as blush wine, rosé can be made as a still, semi-still or sparkling wine.
  • Still rosé wines can be made from almost any red grape varietal, or from a blend of varietals. Sparkling rosé wines, including rosé Champagne, are exceptions because they also can be made with white grapes. The wines get their rosy color from contact with the red grape skins.
  • Depending on the grape, terroir and winemaking techniques, the color can range from the palest pink to deep ruby red to hues of orange or violet. Styles range from bone dry Provençal rosé to sweet White Zinfandel and other blush wines from California.
  • Still rose wines are not made to age, and should be drunk at 1-3 years old. The exception is top-quality rosé Champagne. A 15-year-old Dom Perignon Rosé, for example, is a joy.
  •  

    RECIPE: GRAPEFRUIT MIMOSA COCKTAIL

    This recipe, from Emeril Lagasse, can be made sweeter by adding more juice and less Champagne—a proportion that also stretches the Champagne if you don’t have enough left over.

    Ingredients For 4 Flutes

  • 4 tablespoons triple sec or other orange liqueur (e.g. Cointreau, Grand Marnier)
  • 1/2 cup pink or red grapefruit juice
  • 2 cups Champagne
  • Garnish: grapefruit wedge
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE 1 tablespoon of liqueur in each flute. Top with 2 tablespoons of grapefruit juice and 1/2 cup of Champagne.

    2. GARNISH with a grapefruit wedge and serve.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Have Some Grenache

    brunello-230BSP

    A glass of 100% grenache is a new
    experience for most wine lovers. Photo ©
    Dusan Zidar | Bigstock Photo.

     

    Grenache (pronounced gruh-NOSH), called Garnacha in Spain, is one of the most widely planted (and highest-yielding) red wine grape varieties in the world. It’s most commonly found in blends, where it’s used to add body and sweet fruitiness. It’s not easy to find a 100% garnacha wine in many U.S. wine stores.

    But look for Las Rocas and other wines from the Aragon region of northeast Spain (where the grape probably originated, although Sardinia also claims it as a native grape). Five D.O.* regions in Aragon (Calatayud, Campo de Borja, Cariñena, Somontano and Terra Alta) are producing quality wines that are at least 85% Garnacha. (A wine that is at least 85% of a particular varietal can be called by that varietal’s name.) Las Rocas, at $15, os well priced.

    Grenache grows in hot, dry climates; Spain, Sardinia, the south of France and California’s San Joaquin Valley are prominent growing regions. It is the dominant variety in most Southern Rhône wines, especially in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

    BLENDED INTO VERY POPULAR WINES

    In Spain, Grenache is blended into Rioja. It is used to make rosé wines in France and Spain. If you’ve had a bottle of Tavel (a district in the Côtes du Rhône), you’ve had grenache.

     

    Grenache was one of the first grape varieties introduced to Australia in the 18th century. It was the country’s most widely planted red wine grape variety until it was surpassed by Shiraz in the mid 1960s.

    In was also one of the first grapes to be successfully planted and vinified during the early development of the Washington wine industry, in the early 20th century.

    Wines made from Grenache tend to lack acid, tannin and color, which is why they are usually blended with Cinsaut, Syrah, Tempranillo or other grapes. In addition to the better-known red wine, there is a white grape, Grenache Blanc or Grenacha Blanca. A wine made with White Grenache is similar to White Zinfandel.

    White Grenache is a very important grape in France, where it is the fourth most widely planted white variety†. Like red Grenache (Grenache Noir), it is used as a blending grape in the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

     

    CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL GRENACHE DAY

    To celebrate International Grenache Day—the third Friday in September, which this year is September 19th—the producers of Las Rocas Garnacha sent us a bottle of red. The brand name, which means “the rocks,” refers to the steep, rocky slopes where the grapes are grown.

    The flavors of grenache are typically spicy (look for white pepper) with berry fruit, often raspberry and strawberry (we found blackberry and black cherry in Las Rocas). The lower tannins make it softer on the palate; the alcohol content is relatively high (this year’s Las Rocas has 14.9% alcohol).

    GRENACHE & FOOD PAIRINGS

    Pair grenache as you would any medium-body red wine: with beef, chicken and turkey, lamb or pork, including stews. Its spicy qualities also pair well with international spices, such as garam masala and milder curries. The fruitiness also makes them a natural for dishes with dried fruit, such as Moroccan tagines; and with general sweetness, such as barbecue.

    In recent decades, the total acreage of Garnacha in Spain has been on the decline, with the vineyards being replanted with the more fashionable Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo.

     

    las-rocas-garnacha-230

    Celebrate International Grenache Day. Photo courtesy Las Rocas.

     

    Show your support of Grenache today: Enjoy a bottle with dinner.

     
    *D.O., short for Denominaciones de Origen, is similar to the French Appellations. Production of products produced in a particular D.O. are regulated by specific laws meant to ensure quality and consistency.

    †The first three are Ugni blanc, a blending grape; Chardonnay and Semillon.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Wine Glass Types

    red-white-champagne-brinvy.biz-230

    Ideally, you’ll have three wine-specific
    glasses for red, white and sparkling. Photo
    courtesy Brinvy.biz.

     

    “Why the different shapes and sizes of wine glasses?” writes a reader. “Can’t I just use one generic glass?”

    The bottom line is: You can serve wine in a juice glass, if that’s what you have. It’s how wine is served in many working class eateries the world over.

    Just as you can drink soup from a bowl or a mug, you can drink wine from a tea cup, a vessel used by some during Prohibition lest the neighbors spot them drinking alcohol.

    But for more elegant consumption that helps show off the qualities of the wine, three different shapes work best. Here’s why:

    Larger Bowl Wine Glasses For Red Wine

    Red wine glasses hold a minimum of 12 ounces. The wider bowl shape allows the wine to breathe more, opening up the flavors of red wine.

    Those balloon glasses at 24 ounces may look impressive and appeal to major imbibers; but they take extra space to store, extra care to wash, and are more showy than useful.

     
    Narrower Bowl Wine Glasses For White Wine

    White wine glasses range between 10 and 12 ounces. The shape’s narrower bowl helps to keep the wine cool longer.
     

    Flutes For Sparkling Wine

    Champagne and other sparkling wines are best served in an 8- to 12-ounce flute. The narrow shape keeps the bubbles from dissipating quickly (which is exactly what happens in a Champagne coupe), and focuses the bubbles to rise in a festive display.

    In some better stemware lines, tiny dimples are etched into the bottom of the bowl, which produce more bubbles and help to improve the way it tastes.

    In fact, the added effervescence increases the volatile compounds that are released when the bubbles burst, enhancing the bouquet.

     

    The Science Of Stemware

    For some time, the design of the best wine glasses has been a matter of science. At Riedel, the pioneer in stemware engineering and the glass of choice among connoisseurs, the bowls are designed to show off the qualities of each style of wine, enhancing the flavors and aromas. It’s scientific, and it works (it’s easy to do a side-by-side comparison between Riedel and a generic glass).
     
    More Wine Glass Tips

    Stems. The stem length will vary based on the designer. While tall stems look elegant, they may not be the most comfortable to hold. Also consider if they will fit easily into your cabinet and, if you hope to wash them mechanically, your dishwasher. On a similar plane, novelty stems—in the shape of cubes or diamonds, for example—are not as easy to hold.

    Bowl designs. Avoid colors and designs. If you’re serious about wine, you need to be able to focus on the subtleties of its color.

    Engineering. Experts look for thinner glass and a lip that curves in slightly to focus the aroma.

    A final tip: Wine glasses should be filled only about two-thirds full, not to the brim.

     

    riedel-assorted-reds-230

    Riedel engineers each glass to show of the quality of the varietal—Cabernet versus Zinfandel, for example. Photo courtesy Riedel USA.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Moscato Day

    It’s National Muscat Day, celebrating a wine that hasn’t been discovered by enough Americans—especially those who enjoy a fruity wine with a touch of sweetness.

    We’ve enjoyed white Moscato for years, as well as the sparkling styles like Asti Spumante and its semi-sparkling cousin, Moscato d’Asti (both made in the Piedmont region of Italy).

    But we only recently received our first bottle of red Moscato, from our friends at Gallo Vineyards. It retails for about $7.99 per bottle, and we’ll be bringing bottles of both red and white Moscato to gatherings this summer.

     
    THE HISTORY OF MOSCATO

    Once upon a time, in a land called Muscat and Oman (a country that encompassed the present day Sultanate of Oman and parts of the United Arab Emirates), a wine was enjoyed so much that someone brought the grape seeds back to Rome for cultivation.

    In turn, the Roman Legions brought Moscato to Gaul (encompassing present-day France). Today France and Italy are renowned producers of Muscat.

     

    gallo-red-moscato-230

    Red moscato is made by a number of producers. Photo courtesy Gallo.

     

    The are different strains of the muscat grape, including Muscat noir, black Muscat, which has a dark skin (red to dark purple) and is used to make the red variety.

    Moscato is light bodied and low in alcohol—meaning that most people can have a second glass without feeling it. Gallo’s red Moscato has a perfumed nose and a palate laden with notes of citrus, honey and peach.

    With its delicate sweetness and fresh acidity, this refreshing, medium-bodied wine is best enjoyed chilled, with anything from a cheese place to spice cuisine to dessert.

    Here’s more on moscato, including 13 different ways to serve it.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Rosé Wine & The Best Rosé Tasting Ever

    Quick: What’s a rosé wine?

  • It’s a type of wine that gets some of its rosy color from contact with red grape skins, but not enough to qualify it as a red wine.
  • It can be made anywhere in the world, from almost any grape (or a mix of different grapes); it can be made as a still, semi-still or sparkling wine.
  • Depending on the grape, terroir and winemaking techniques, the color can range from the palest pink to deep ruby red to hues of orange or violet; and in styles from bone dry Provençal rosé to sweet White Zinfandel and other blush wines from California.
  • It may be the oldest style of wine, as it is the most easiest to make with the skin contact method.
  •  
    And it’s popular.

    According to Nielsen, premium imported rosés (those priced at $12 or more per bottle) grew by 39% in volume and 48% in dollar value in 2013, capping nine straight years of double-digit growth.

    In sum, a glass of chilled rosé is now hot.

    And soon, in celebration, the world’s first large-scale rosé tasting event, La Nuit En Rosé will be held in New York City—on June 13th and 14th.

    Before then, you can set a bottle or two on your Easter table. But La Nuit En Rosé is a rosé tasting with 50 wines you won’t want to miss.

     

    rose-glass-corksandcaftans-230

    Multiply times 50: That’s how many roses you’ll be able to taste at La Nuit En Rosé (if not more!). Photo courtesy Corks and Caftans.

     

    LA NUIT EN ROSÉ: ROSE WINÉ TASTING CRUISE UP THE HUDSON RIVER
    JUNE 13th & 14th, 2014

    La Nuit En Rosé, “The Pink Night,” marks the first time a large wine event has focused exclusively on rosé. It’s a celebration of rosés from around the globe, and your opportunity to taste the different grapes and styles all in one evening—on a yacht cruise!

    There will be more than 50 wines from the world’s great wine regions.

    This tasting event will take place during an elegant yacht cruise along the Hudson River that nestles Manhattan Island. There are not only wines, but live music, optional cuisine and some of the best views Manhattan has to offer.

    There are two four-hour sessions a day, an afternoon and an evening sailing, each featuring a 90-minute cruise. The yacht departs from Pier 40 (West Street and the Hudson River).

    Just pick your day and time on Friday, June 13th or Saturday, June 14th:

  • DAY TASTING & CRUISE, 1 PM to 5 PM: Take in the summertime sun during a daytime cruise. Sip on the world’s finest rosé wines while taking in the sights of downtown New York City from the water. You can board as early as 1 and start tasting. The cruise begins at 2 p.m. and sails until 3:30 p.m.; you can then remain on board until 5, tasting and enjoying the music.
  • NIGHT TASTING & CRUISE, 7 PM to 11 PM: Prepare for an evening of wine tasting, dancing and cruising around the city. Enjoy views of the lit-up Manhattan skyline. Boarding time is 7 p.m.; the cruise begins at 8 p.m. and sails until 9:30 p.m. You can remain on board until 11.
  •  
    TICKETS

    Tickets are $60 per person and include all of the wines and the 90-minute cruise. Buy them at NuitRose.com.

    Food vendors on board will sell cheeses, charcuterie, fresh seafood, French pastries and other snacks to pair with the wines.

    The event also features a wine competition, where distinguished judges will confer honors upon the best of the wines, and you can cast your own vote for the audience award (“people’s choice”).

    If you taste something you really like, you’ll be able to order it on board from renowned wine merchant Zachys.

    Get together a group: It should be a memorable event!

     

    sancerre_rose_Wine-thor-wiki-230

    We can’t wait to taste and cruise. Photo by
    Thor | Wikimedia.

     

    HOW IS ROSÉ MADE?

    Surprise: Most wine grapes have clear juice, regardless of the skin color. The pink color in rosé—and the color of red wines—is obtained through skin contact. This means letting the crushed grape skins and fresh juice (which is called the “must”) of black-skinned grapes (a.k.a. purple or red grapes) rest together in a vat.

    The longer that the juice is left in contact with the skins (typically one to three days for rosé), the more color is extracted and the more intense the color of the final wine. When the color is the right shade for the brand, the must is then pressed and and the skins are discarded.

    The winemaker drains the juice from the skins and proceeds to make the wine in the same way most whites are made (cool fermentation and, for rosé, no oak).

    Rosé Vs. Blush Wine

    In the 1980s, American winemakers began using the term “blush wine” to sell their pink wines. The reasons:

     

  • White Zinfandel had become enormously popular (at one point it was the largest-selling wine in America), and there weren’t enough Zinfandel grapes grown to meet demand. Winemakers needed to use other grape varieties, and could no longer call the product “White Zinfandel.”
  • No one was buying, or showing an interest in, rosé at the time, while blush wines flew off of the shelves.
  • American pink wines, whether White Zin or the generic “blush,” are typically sweeter and paler than French-style rosé.

    The styles and tasting profiles of each are as varied and complex as any varietal, and richly deserve their new popularity. Get to know fifty of them this June.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Break Wine Barriers

    Most people who drink wine regularly have learned “rules” of pairing wine with food. There are very precise rules—Chablis with oysters is one—and general pronouncements, such as white wine with fish.

    You can go to the website FoodAndWinePairing.org and get guidance such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Malbec with lamb.

    But conventional wisdom, which also includes drinking the wines from the same region as the foods, is not the same as the latest wisdom.

    The new wisdom of wine says don’t be regimented, don’t box yourself in. Try different pairings to see what works best for you.

    The new wisdom (which has been around for a while) was proved at a lunch last week hosted by Louis Jadot, the venerable Burgundian winemaker and négociant*.

    In a private room at Lafayette Grand Café in the Nolita neighborhood of downtown Manhattan, ten wine writers joined Frederic Barnier, Jadot’s winemaker, for an eye-opening (and delicious) lunch.

    We tried eight different dishes with four Jadot wines, two whites and two reds:

  • Louis Jadot Bourgogne Chardonnay
  • Louis Jadot Macon-Villages
  • Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages
  • Louis Jadot Pinot Noir
  •  

    filet-mignon-red-wine-ruthschris-230

    If you think you prefer Cabernet Sauvignon with filet mignon, think again. Photo courtesy Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

     

    Also tasted prior to the lunch were the new Louis Jadot Steel Chardonnay, made for the American market where many people prefer the flavors of steel fermentation to oak barrel fermentation; and the 2012 Pouilly-Fuisse.

     

    jadot-beaujolais-230b

    Who new we’d enjoy Beaujolais with just
    about everything? Photo courtesy Maison
    Louis Jadot.

      MIX & MATCH

    We were encouraged to mix and match the wines with the foods. Served family style on large platters, we dined on:

  • Roasted beet root salad with mach and hazelnuts
  • Escarole and endive salad with pomegranate and truffle vinaigrette
  • Charcuterie de la maison: saucisson, pâte and jambon
  • Rotisserie chicken salad with organic grains and tarragon-poppy dressing
  • Brisket burger with caramelized onions and raclette
  • Roasted fall vegetables and potatoes
  • Brussels sprouts with bacon and horseradish
  •  
    SURPRISES

    As you might imagine, there’s a lot of conventional wisdom on which wines to pair with these foods. But we tried every possible pairing, and the results were surprising—or maybe not so surprising:

    Everyone liked something different, and many of the preferences were not the conventional ones.

    Even more surprising to us—a lover of red and white Burgundy but not necessarily of Beaujolais†—is how much we liked that Beaujolais with just about everything. It was our favorite wine of the tasting, and the nice Jadot people sent us home with a bottle.

     
    PICK A DATE FOR A DINNER PARTY

    Follow today’s tip by planning a dinner with four different wines.

    You can assign dishes to participants, so you’ll have an assortment of vegetables, grains, poultry, meat and fish/seafood. Prepare the dishes with strong flavors—like the hazelnuts, horseradish, truffle oil, spices and herbs served by Lafayette—because any wine will seemingly go with bland food.

    Of course, the exercise is a relative one. The flavors of wines made from the same grape from the same region in the same year can vary widely. So it’s best to select four wines from the same producer, like Jadot, which will provide consistency in house style and approach to winemaking.

    Bon appétit!

     
    *A négociant is the French term for a wine merchant who buys wines from smaller winemakers and sells them under his own name. Négociants buy everything from grapes to grape must to wines in various states of completion, and often blend the wines from different small winemakers.

    †Beaujolais is the one appellation in Burgundy that produces red wine made from the Gamay grape instead of Pinot Noir.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Quickly Chill Wine Or Champagne

    If you forgot to put the Champagne in the fridge—or decide on a different bottle of wine than the one you’ve chilled—here’s how to get it cold, fast.

    Pop It In The Freezer

    Many people stick the bottle in the freezer. It works, but it isn’t the fastest way to chill wine. Cold air isn’t as effective as cold water, our next technique.

    Make A Water Bath

    This technique gets the deepest chill. Take a wine bucket, stock pot or other container that will allow at least half of the bottle to be covered with ice. Fill halfway with ice cubes; then add ice water or very cold tap water, filling the bucket to three-quarters full. Next, add salt to the water.

    (Why? It lowers the temperature of the water. As the salt dissolves, it requires energy to break the bonds between its ions. The water transfers some of its heat to do aid this process, and the entire solution cools down.)

    Stir the mixture to blend and add the bottle(s).

     

    champagne-230

    An ice water bath quickly cools a bottle of Champagne or other wine. Photo courtesy Champagne Council.

     

    This is the fastest way to chill a bottle of wine or Champagne. You might think that restaurants bring wine in an ice bucket to keep the wine chilled; but most restaurants lack the capacity to store their Champagne and white wine inventory on ice. So the water bath in ice bucket serves not just to keep the wine cold, but to chill it in the first place.

     

    rapid-ice-wine-cooler-230b

    Our go-to wine chiller is Rapid Ice. Photo
    courtesy Rapid Ice.

     

    Gel Sleeve: Our Personal Favorite

    Most homes don’t have the space or the need to keep an ice bucket. Ever since the first Rapid Ice Wine Instant Wine Cooler appeared on the market 30-plus years ago, we’ve been hooked. We always have two in the freezer.

    A plastic sleeve is quilted into several gel pockets. The sleeve folds flat and is easy to store in the freezer. Take it out, insert a bottle and the bottle will be chilled enough by the cold gel to drink in five minutes or so. The bottle can stay chilled for up to three hours.

    Rapid Ice is designed to fit over a standard 750 ml wine bottle, but you can get it over some Champagne bottles. However, there is also a Champagne bottle version.

    It takes up a lot less room on the table than an ice bucket!

    You can purchase Rapid Ice at wine stores, kitchen gadget departments and online. It’s about $12 for the wine version and about $15 for the Champagne version.

    Consider adding one to a wine gift.

     

    BONUS WAYS TO USE RAPID ICE

  • Chill beer.
  • Keep your water bottle cooler on a hot summer day.
  • Keep a pint of ice cream chilled at the table—or as you work your way through it in front of the TV.
  • Chill down dough or other ingredients.
  • Ice down your wrist or arm from injury or overuse of technology.
  •  
    There are many more uses, no doubt!

      

    Comments

    TIP: Uses For Leftover Wine

    What to do with the leftover wine? Photo
    courtesy FreeImages.co.uk.

     

    Some people have no problem using leftover wine in the next day or so—typically by drinking it! But if you’re just a social drinker and not likely to drink the leftovers by yourself, here are some suggestions:

    1. MAKE A SPRITZER. If there’s not enough left for a full glass of wine, add club soda for a spritzer. If you like sweet drinks, make a “winetail”—a wine cocktail—by adding ginger ale or lemon-lime soda.

    2. DEGLAZE A PAN. It’s easy to make a delicious wine-accented sauce with pan juices. Here’s how to deglaze.

    3. FLAVOR SAUCES, SOUPS & STEWS. Wine adds rich flavor to recipes. Match the wine to the dish: white wine (including sparkling wine) with clear or creamy soups and sauces, red wine with tomato or beef-based soups, stews and sauces. You can use either with chicken and most vegetables. Reduce the wine or by boiling for 10 minutes to burn off the alcohol.

    4. MAKE SALAD DRESSING. Yes, add wine to vinaigrette, along with wine vinegar. Using a 3:1 proportion of olive oil to vinegar, split the tablespoon of vinegar into 2 teaspoons vinegar and 1 teaspoon wine (match the type of wine vinegar to the type of wine). Season with salt and pepper to taste and some optional minced shallot.

     

    5. ASSORTED RECIPES. Just look at what you’re cooking to see how wine could fit in. We love to sauté mushrooms and onions with a splash of wine; we toss it into poaching liquid for seafood or chicken, pears and other fruits. You can also add it to a marinade.

    6. FREEZE IT. If you can’t think of what to do with the wine today, just pour it into an ice cube tray and freeze. When the cubes are frozen, store them in a plastic freezer bag. You can then use them for all the purposes above and more—like adding to sangria or chilling down a too-warm glass of wine from the next bottle you open.
     
    Have additional tips? Let us know!
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Champagne Cocktails

    The easy way out is to uncork the Champagne, pour and serve. The fun way is to offer a menu of Champagne cocktails.

    When it comes to New Year’s Eve cocktails, we have a favorite: Champagne or other bubbly mixed with St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, a French import made by a family-owned Parisian company. At about $30 a bottle, it’s one of our favorite gifts to fellow foodies.

    While “elderflower liqueur” may sound like something from another century (and it is), it is exquisite to modern palates. It has a gorgeous lychee aroma aroma with flavor notes of grapefruit, orange, pear and peach. It’s simply luscious by itself or mixed with white wine, including any white sparkling wine. Here’s our review.

     

    The classic Champagne cocktail. Photo courtesy Chambre de Sucre.

     

    St. Germain liqueur: a perfect pairing with
    Champagne and other bubbly. Photo
    courtesy St. Germain | Paris.

     

    CHAMPAGNE COCKTAILS MENU

  • Classic Champagne Cocktail: Sprinkle a few drops of bitters onto a sugar cube; let them soak in. Drop the cube into a flute with a splash of Cognac. Top with Champagne.
  • Ginger Champagne Cocktail: Add ginger liqueur to a Champagne glass, top with Champagne and garnish with a piece of crystallized ginger.
  • Grapefruit Mimosa: The classic Mimosa with orange juice is too much of a brunch standard to be special for New Year’s Eve. But a Grapefruit Mimosa isn’t something you come across often. Here’s a recipe; garnish with candied grapefruit peel.
  • Kir Royale: A Kir Royale mixes sparkling wine with crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur). Add the liqueur to a Champagne glass and then pour the wine down the side. Chambord (black raspberry liqueur) is equally delicious (just don’t call it a Kir Royale). Optional garnish: a fresh blackberry.
  • Champagne Lemon Drop: Make lemon simple syrup by stirring equal parts of sugar and water over medium heat until dissolved. Juice three lemons; cut the peel into garnishes. Combine champagne, 1/2 to 1 ounce vodka, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon each simple syrup and lemon juice; garnish with peel.
  •  

    CHAMPAGNE PUNCH

    Champagne punch is another special way to usher in the New Year. The trick is to keep the ingredients as cold as possible before mixing the punch, so you don’t need to use a lot of ice, which dilutes it.

    This recipe is from the Hyatt Regency New Orleans: It combines our favorite Champagne-St. Germain cocktail with a vodka kick. It’s called “garden” Champagne punch because of the aromatic herbs used as garnish. It’s lovely at any time of year and the pretty herb garnish is an eye-opener.

    RECIPE: GARDEN CHAMPAGNE PUNCH

    Ingredients For Pitcher Or Punch Bowl

  • 9 ounces vodka
  • 2 ounces St. Germain elderflower liqueur
  • 2 ounces simple syrup (recipe)
  • 1 bottle chilled Champagne or sparkling wine
  • 3-1/2 ounces fresh squeezed lime juice
  • Garnish: basil, cilantro, cucumber, mint, rosemary, thyme
  •  
    Plus

  • Punch bowl or pitcher
  • Ice cubes*
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE vodka, St. Germain, simple syrup and lime juice in a punch bowl or pitcher combine. Chill until ready to use. Prior to serving…

    2. ADD Champagne to the mixture and pour over ice; garnish and serve.
     
    Variations

    If you can’t get a bottle of St. Germain, substitute orange liqueur (Cointreau, Grand Marnier, etc.) or other fruit liqueur, and add some orange slices or other corresponding fruit to the herb garnish.

    If you have lychee liqueur, use that with a garnish of herbs, oranges and lychees (available canned in the Asian foods aisle; fresh lychees are in season from spring through early fall).

     
    *The larger the ice cubes the slower they melt. One option is to freeze a block of ice in a small loaf pan or other container. You can add fruit and/or herbs to decorate the ice.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Champagne Recorker (Resealer)

    We have been using this indispensable gadget since it first came onto the market, back in our college days. Yet, when we use it in front of guests, most look on with amazement—they’ve never seen a Champagne recorker before.

    So today’s tip is: Get one for anyone who enjoys a bottle of bubbly. They’re less than $10 in chrome, and we received a plastic version freebie from Yellow Tail that works just as well.

    And for the price, it’s painless to include one when you give a gift of Champagne. Or give them as wedding or anniversary party favors.

    A Champagne recorker (also called a resealer) creates a tight seal at the mouth of the bottle, so the bubbles stay in. A rubber “cork” under the chrome cap fits the mouth of the bottle, and two “wings” clamp down to create the seal.

    It works like a dream, and makes us wonder why it wasn’t created centuries before. (Champagne has been around since the early 1700s, and rubber has been manufactured since around 1820.) We use it:

     

    A champagne recorker keeps it sparkling. This one is available from the Wine Enthusiast. Photo courtesy The Wine Enthusiast.

  • To keep the fizz in the bottle in-between pourings.
  • If we want just a glass or two but not the whole bottle.
  • If we need just a cup or so for a recipe.
  • If we have “leftovers” at the end of the evening.
  •  
    You can buy a Champagne recorker wherever kitchen gadgets are sold; online; and depending on your state of residence, in the store where you purchase the bubbly.

    The Champagne recorker keeps the wine fizzy for several days. The fuller the bottle, the fizzier it stays (i.e., if there’s only an inch or two of wine at the bottom of the bottle, there’s a lot of air into which the effervescence can evaporate). We just finished a bottle that was opened six weeks ago to taste just half a glass—and it was “like new.”

    CHAMPAGNE TRIVIA

    According to Wikipedia, the Champenois (residents of the Champagne region) and other French who bought the wine drank it as a still wine (it’s made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes). Bubbles were considered a defect. They are the result of a secondary a fermentation process which takes place in the bottle, as yeast devour the grape sugar and create carbon dioxide.

    But the British—major customers for the wines of France—developed a taste for the unique bubbly wine, and the sparkling version of Champagne continued to grow in popularity, especially among the wealthy and royal (as opposed to the locals). More Champenois wine makers attempted to make their wines sparkle deliberately, but didn’t know enough about how to control the process or how to make wine bottles strong enough to withstand the pressure.

    In the 19th century these obstacles were overcome. Advances by the house of Veuve Clicquot in the development of the méthode champenoise made production of sparkling wine profitable on a large scale, and the modern Champagne wine industry was born. The house of Bollinger was established in 1829, Krug was in 1843 and Pommery in 1858.
     
    Do you know the different types of Champagne?

      

    Comments

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