THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods


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> 100 food glossaries: food lovers’ guides to favorite foods you’d like to know more about.
 
 
> 850+ food histories: the origins of your favorite foods from A to Z.

 

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For Gin Lovers: McQueen And The Violet Fog, Ultraviolet Edition

Purple Cocktail Made With McQueen & The Velvet Fog Ultraviolet Edition Gin
[1] A French 75 sparkles, but an Ultraviolet 75 sparkles with a rosy hue. The recipe is below (all photos © Sovereign Brands).

Purple Gin & Tonic Cocktail Made With McQueen & The Violet Fog Gin
[2] The Gin & Tonic is the most popular gin cocktail, but how about an Ultraviolet & Tonic? The recipe is below.

Purple Negroni Made With McQueen & The Velvet Fog Ultraviolet Edition Gin
[3] A classic Negroni is reddish from the Campari. A Royal Negroni has a purplish hue. The recipe is below.

Bottle Of McQueen & The Velvet Fog Gin With Salty Dog Cocktail
[4] The flagship brand is distilled from 21 botanicals.

Bottle Of McQueen & The Velvet Fog Gin
[5] It won a gold medal at the L.A. Spirits Awards.

McQueen & The Velvet Fog Gin Bottles
[6] A dazzling duo.

Bottle Of McQueen & The Velvet Fog Gin Ultra Violet Edition
[7] An exciting gin gift.

 

If you like a gin that’s heavy on botanicals (and we do!), McQueen And The Violet Fog is the next brand for you to try. There’s the award-winning flagship brand (photos #4 and #5) and if you like something super-special, the brand has just launched its Ultraviolet Edition of violet-hued, flavored gin.

McQueen And The Violet Fog is made by Sovereign Brands, a family-run wine and spirits company.

What about the name? “McQueen and the Violet Fog” was inspired by a poem of the same name. It’s a poem about a mysterious (fictional) rock band, written by a poet who calls himself Atticus.

We couldn’t find the poem online, but the last two stanzas are printed on the back of the bottle. Briefly: The narrator is at a rock concert when the room suddenly goes black. When the lights go back on, the band has disappeared—only the verberations remain, along with a plate on the door that says “McQueen & The Violet Fog.”

Is it the name of the band? The name of the venue? An homage to the Velvet Underground (which took its own name from the title of a book on sadomasochism?

Atticus, if you read this, give us a clue.
 
 
CRAFTING McQUEEN AND THE VIOLET FOG

The gin world, says Sovereign Brands, is traditionally U.K.-centric. For its flagship gin, the company wanted to do something different.

So they make their artisan gin in a single copper pot still in the hills of Jundiaí, Brazil, a municipality in the state of São Paulo.

Each small batch is a labor of love, producing only 500 liters of gin.

Twenty-one exotic botanicals are distilled into the spirit, including many rarely found in gin, such as jasmine flower, lemongrass, orris root, and pomelo peel.

The botanicals are sourced from around the world—as far from Brazil as Indian basil leaves, Mediterranean fennel seed, Portuguese rosemary, South Pacific calamansi, Vietnamese star anise, and a local hero, Brazilian açaí.

Sovereign Brands relates that no other gin has 21 botanicals, adding that six of the botanicals are found in no other gin [source].

As a result, the complex palate of McQueen and the Violet Fog reveals something new with every sip: citrus, floral notes, heat, herbs, juniper, and spice.

The gin is so smooth and satiny, some might say voluptuous…a gin that’s ultra-smooth and well-rounded, and a step away from the traditional European-style gins (photo #4).

And it’s officially a winner, taking gold in the L.A. Spirits Awards (photo #5).

Pour a snifter and inhale. Do you smell a forest, an orchard, an apothecary? A bit of heaven?
 
 
NOW FOR THE VIOLET GIN

And now, more razzle-dazzle: The new Ultraviolet Edition, a flavored gin that makes beautiful purple cocktails.

It’s made from the same 21 botanicals as the flagship gin, with the added complexity of red berries and hibiscus, plus carmine to create Ultraviolet’s striking violet color.

The color is deep violet when poured neat, but transforms to a beautiful pink color when combined with tonic water or citrus juice.

While the gin is flavored, it can be used to make any gin cocktail.

The flavor is tart (from cranberries), sweet, and earthy. Concentrate and you’ll taste the cranberries plus jasmine flower, lemongrass, the Portuguese rosemary, and even rose petals.

The handsome, heavyweight bottle can be repurposed as a water bottle for the table. (For fun, use food color to make violet water.)

The goal of Sovereign Brands is to become the wine and spirits industry’s most innovative creator of unique, forward-thinking new brands. With McQueen and the Violet Fog—both versions—they’re headed in the right direction!

Discover more on the company website, along with many more recipes.
 
 
RECIPE #1: ULTRAVIOLET & TONIC

A step beyond the traditional G&T (photo #2).
 
Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces McQueen and the Violet Fog Ultraviolet Edition Gin
  • 3 ounces premium tonic water
  • Grapefruit slice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. FILL a cup of glass with ice and gin. Top with tonic water.

    2. GARNISH with a grapefruit slice.
     
     
    RECIPE #2: ULTRAVIOLET 75

    A French 75 is nice, but very pale compared to the Ultraviolet 75 (photo #1).

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1.5 ounces McQueen and the Violet Fog Ultraviolet Edition Gin
  • .75 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • .5 ounce simple syrup
  • Sparkling wine
  • Garnish: lemon twist
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Shake with ice and strain into a chilled flute.

    2. TOP with sparkling wine. Garnish with a lemon twist
     
     
    RECIPE #3: ROYAL NEGRONI

    The Negroni is the world’s #2 cocktail. But here comes the Royal Negroni (photo #3).

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1.5 ounces McQueen & the Violet Fog Ultraviolet Edition Gin
  • 1.5 ounces Campari
  • 1.5 ounces sweet vermouth
  • Orange bitters
  • Garnish: Orange peel
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE a large glass (or a Boston shaker) and a mixing glass with ice. Add the gin, Campari, vermouth, and bitters to the mixing glass.

    2. STIR very well and strain into a large glass. Garnish with the orange peel.
     
     
    > The history of gin.

    > The different types (styles) of gin.

     
     

     
     

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    Pinot Grigio: America’s 2nd Most Popular White Wine, For National Pinot Grigio Day

    We celebrate National Pinot Grigio Day on May 17th. The refreshing white wine is perfect for warm days enjoyment, but Americans enjoy it year-round.

    In fact, while Pinot Grigio is the most popular white wine in Italy, it’s also the most-imported white wine in the U.S.
     
     
    A BRIEF HISTORY OF PINOT GRIGIO

    While best known as an Italian grape, the varietal first appeared in the Burgundy region of France in the Middle Ages, where it was known as Pinot Gris.

  • Pinot is a variation of the French pineau, referring to a pine tree. The varietal got its name from the pinecone-shaped formation of its grape clusters.
  • Gris is French for gray, so named because of the grayish color of the grape’s skin. The grapes range in color from greyish blue to brownish pink and the color variations can occur within the same cluster [source].
  • Pinot Gris along with Pinot Blanc, another white grape, are both mutations of Burgundy’s red Pinot Noir grape.
  •  
    From Burgundy, the grape traveled east to the Alsace region of France, where it was to deliver its highest caliber wines.

    It was planted in Switzerland by the 14th century. The wine is said to have been a favorite of Emperor Charles IV, ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1355 to 1378 [source].

    It was planted extensively by the Cistercian monks in Hungary and in Italy by 1375, where the now-named Pinot Grigio was destined to become the number-one Italian white [source].

    In Italy, Pinot Grigio is grown largely in the cooler northeastern parts of the country: primarily the Veneto, but also Alto Adige, Friuli, Lombardy, and Trentino.

    Today, Pinot Gris is also grown in Australia, Austria, Chile, Germany, South Africa, and the U.S. (especially California, Oregon, and Long Island, New York) [source].

    The first American Pinot Gris was planted in Oregon by David Lett of Eyrie Vineyards in 1965. The varietal was slow to catch on, though.

    In the 1960s, Italy’s Santa Margherita Winery began to export its Pinot Grigio to the U.S., and it ultimately became one of Italy’s largest wine exports to the States [source].

    By the 1990s, American brands of Pinot Grigio began to trend higher and higher.

    As of 2019, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris was the second-largest-selling white wine in the U.S., after Chardonnay. Sauvignon Blanc was third, followed by White Zinfandel and Riesling [source].

    While their popularity has led to a lot of inexpensive, mass-produced wines that are two-dimensional, there are some fine Pinot Grigios. Ask your wine store for a recommendation. There are good options from $15 upwards.
     
     
    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PINOT GRIGIO & PINOT GRIS

    While the DNA of the grapes is virtually identical, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are stylistically different wines. This is because of:

  • Terroir*. Variations, whether in temperature or aging style, will impact the way the grape shows acidity, fruit character, and aromatics.
  • Winemaking techniques. Pinot Gris wines are generally made from riper grapes (exposed to the sun for a longer time on the vine). As a result, Pinot Gris wines are fuller-bodied, drier, and richer, and they have more notes of honey, spice, and tropical fruits than their Pinot Grigio wines.
  • Pinot Grigio grapes are harvested early to yield a crisp, refreshing acidity.
  • Pinot Gris wines tend to age better—especially those from top producers; and especially the late harvest or botrytized examples called vendanges tardives (VT) and sélection de grains noble (SGN)†.
  • Pinot Grigio wines are not meant to be aged (drink them within 1-2 years after the vintage date). Alsatian Pinot Gris wines can be put down for five years or longer; the VT and SGN wines for much longer, often decades. (see photo #6)
  • American Pinot Grigio is typically harvested later than the Italian grape, but not so late as the sweeter Alsatian varieties. The American wines are still dry, but with more pronounced fruity flavors and less acidity than the French wines [source].
  • Style. Variations to suit local tastes and pair with the local cuisine.
  • While Pinot Grigio is often made to be simple and refreshing, Pinot Gris from Alsace is intensely concentrated and multifaceted, with flavors that can include apple pie, exotic spice, honey, mushroom, and white flower. Alsatian Pinot Gris, while it certainly can be dry, often has some residual sugar and can be quite full-bodied [source].
  • If you’re a Pinot Grigio drinker but would like to try the grape at its zenith, get a good Alsatian Pinot Gris. Our favorites are from Domaine Zind-Humbrecht and Domaines Schlumberger.
  •  
     
    WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN YOUR GLASS OF PINOT GRIGIO

    Pinot Grigio wines are light in body, mild in flavor, crisp, and can be dry, slightly sweet, or off-dry. They have subtle floral or delicately fruity notes. Some will be minerally.

    They have low acid levels as well. They’re clean, easy-drinking, refreshing wines, great for pool or patio, or for pairing with lighter foods (see below).

    The aromas are subtle because the grapes don’t have a high level of ripeness. But let the wine open up in the glass and look for the delicate scents of:

  • Citrus: lemon, lime
  • Floral: elderflower, honeysuckle, orange blossom
  • Herbal: acacia leaf, fennel, mint
  • Pipfruit: apple, pear
  • Stone fruit: nectarine, white peach
  • Other Aromas: almond, ginger, honey, white pepper [source]
  •  
    Each producer’s wine will offer different aromas and flavors, based on terroir† and the factors mentioned above.

    And don’t worry if you don’t know the difference between a regular peach and a white peach, or what acacia leaf smells like (here’s the scoop). These are part of the baby steps in mastering wine.
     
     
    PAIRING PINOT GRIGIO & FOOD

    Choose warm-weather foods, nothing heavy.

  • Crudités, lighter cheese and salume plates, vegetable antipasto.
  • Light chicken and seafood dishes.
  • Pasta with lighter sauces (clam, marinara, olive oil [especially flavored olive oil like basil or garlic] with black pepper and grated parm, pesto).
  • Risotto primavera.
  • Salads.
  •  
    Buon appetito!

     

    Hand holding a glass of Pinot Grigio wine.
    [1] Have a glass: It’s National Pinot Grigio Day, Italy’s most popular white wine (photo © Dorien Beernink | Unsplash).

    Glass and bottle of Pinot Grigio with pizza.
    [2] Have some pizza with your Pinot Grigio (photos #2 and #3 © Brett Jordan | Licensed-under-CC-BY-2.0).

    Glass and bottle of Pinot Grigio.
    [3] Pinot Grigio, light and refreshing, is an ideal warm-weather wine.

    Pinot Grigio, prosciutto, and focaccia.
    [4] Pair Pinot Grigio with Italian foods; here, a snack of prosciutto and focaccia (photo © Lupa Restaurant | NYC).

    Pinot Grigio and mozzarella-cherry tomato skewers.
    [5] Another idea for a Pinot Grigio aperitivo: skewers of mozzarella and cherry tomatoes (photo © Spice Islands).

    Bottle and glass of Schlumberger Pinot Gris Vendage Tardive
    [6] A vendage tardive (VT) Pinot Gris from Domaines Schlumberger, one of the great Alsatian producers of Pinot Gris. This aged wine turns a deep golden color and gains richness and complexity (photo © Tomas Eriksson | Wikipedia).

    ________________
     
    *These two styles create sweeter wines. Vendange tardive (VT) means late harvest in French and refers to a style of dessert wine where the grapes are allowed to hang on the vine until they start to dehydrate. This concentrates the sugars in the juice. Sélection de grains noble (SGN) are even sweeter wines. The name means “selection of noble berries” which refers to wines made from grapes affected by noble rot—a very welcome rot for grapes. Here’s more about it.

    †Terroir, pronounced tur-WAH, is a French agricultural term referring to the unique set of environmental factors in a specific habitat that affects a crop’s qualities. It includes climate, elevation, proximity to a body of water, slant of the land, soil type, and amount of sun. These environmental characteristics give a fruit or vegetable its unique character.
     
     

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    Potato, Mushroom & Chicken Hot Pot Recipe

    Bowl Of Chicken Hot Pot
    [1] This potato and chicken hot pot recipe is below (photo © Little Figgy | Idaho Potato).


    [2] Note the divided dish, which holds two different broths (photos #2 and #3 © Little Sheep | Pasadena [alas, permanently closed])


    [3] Grasp food with chopsticks, dip it into hot broth, cook, and eat. Repeat.

    Strips Of Beef For A Mongolian Hot Pot
    [4] Beef from our favorite spot in Flushing, New York (photo © Xiang Hot Pot | Facebook).

    Dipping Raw Beef Into A Mongolian Hot Pot
    [5] The food item—here beef, but anything from meat and fish to vegetables, dumplings, tofu, and beyond—is dipped into hot broth to cook it (photo © @MichaelOyu | Xiang Hotpot Flushing | Facebook).

    Bean Sprouts For Chinese Hot Pot Recipe
    [6] Bean sprouts and other ingredients ready to cook in the hot broth (photo © Peijia Li | Unsplash).

    Hot Pot Dipping Sauces
    [7] Restaurants offer a variety of sauces to dip the cooked food: chili oil, garlic sauce, ponzu, satay sauce, sesame sauce, soy sauce, etc.

    Lobster Hot Pot
    [8] Lobster: a luxury hot pot ingredient (photo © Amanda Lim | Unsplash).

     

    May 11th is Eat What You Want Day. While some people use this as an excuse to pile on the sugar or chips, we’re using it to shed light on a dish not enjoyed enough in the U.S.: hot pot. You may have heard of Mongolian hot pot (or hotpot), a dish that is served at restaurants devoted to the dish.

    We had hoped to head out to Flushing, Queens, to our favorite hot pot restaurant, Xiang Hotpot. But we couldn’t get away, so we made our own Asian-inspired chicken hot pot recipe, Potato Mushroom Chicken Hot Pot. The recipe is below.

    The recipe below lets you enjoy a family dinner in a slightly different way.

    It’s an adaptation of comfort food that brings to the table a pot of simmering chicken broth stocked with chicken. Each diner dips vegetables into the broth, to cook them. It’s fun and festive.

    In our childhood, perusing the menu at our family’s favorite Chinese restaurant, our eyes always stopped at the fetching-sounding Mongolian Hot Pot.

    We wanted one, but Mom didn’t. So it remained a simmering desire in our heart until we were old enough to take ourselves to the restaurant.

    It was worth the wait. We were delighted and enamored.
     
     
    WHAT’S A HOT POT?

    Hot pot or hotpot (the term in China is literally “fire pot”), is a cooking method from Mongolia.

    It’s a simmering pot of soup stock brought to the dining table, containing a variety of raw meats, seafood, vegetables, and noodles to be cooked in the hot broth; then dipped into a variety of sauces (momiji-oroshi [chili-radish], ponzu, sesame, soy, etc. (photo #7).

    It’s a group meal: the hot broth at the center of the table, surrounded by platters of food to be cooked.

    Mongolian Hot Pot is perhaps the best-known dish of Mongolia, an autonomous region of northeast China*.

    Like fondue, it’s a group meal; except that the bubbling pot is filled with broth instead of cheese; and there’s no bread or other eady-to-eat foods to dip on skewers, but instead, a large selection of raw foods.

    Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot, a chain with thousands of locations in Asia and a toehold several locations in North America, has a variety of broths and some 100 dipping items, ranging from shellfish to lamb meatballs to thin-sliced beef and kidney; and almost every vegetable you can name. Check out some examples here.

    And dumplings—don’t forget the dumplings. ribeye and pork kidney to winter melon, lotus root, egg dumplings, and oyster mushrooms.

    It’s a franchise, so if you have visions of Hot Pot whenever you want it, check it out.
     
     
    WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MONGOLIAN HOT POT & JAPANESE SHABU SHABU?

    Both Mongolian Hot Pot and Japanese Shabu Shabu fall into the category of cooking raw ingredients in a hot broth.

    The main difference is that shabu-shabu is milder, served with only kombu dashi (seaweed) broth instead of the variously spiced broths of Mongolian Hot Pot.

    Yes, Mongolian Hot Pot’s broths are bold, as well as fragrant. At Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot, the principal broth has a blend of 36 aromatic ingredients, including black cardamom pods, whole garlic cloves, goji berries and ginseng [source].

    Hot Pot restaurants offer a variety of broths. Some restaurants use a “split pot” divided into two sections (photos #2, #3, and #5). One can hold a spicy broth, and the other a milder broth.

    As the concept spread beyond Mongolia, the dish took on flavors and ingredients that vary by region—from curry to tom yum broths. Szechuan Hot Pot, for example, offers a chicken broth highly spiced with chiles and peppercorns.

    The recipe that follows is an Americanized hot pot. It’s a simple technique, made for the average home. No special pots or other equipment are required.

     
    RECIPE #1: POTATO, MUSHROOM, & CHICKEN HOT POT

    This recipe for Potato, Mushroom & Chicken Hot Pot (photo #1) is not Mongolian, but was created “in the spirit” of Asian hot pots by Stacey Doyle of Little Figgy Food, for the Idaho Potato Commission.

    The idea is to enjoy a group dinner of simmering the vegetables in the broth, along with the already-cooked chicken.

    The cooking process is similar to the fondue style of cooking, both of which enable enjoyable mealtime with each other while each person cooks his/her own food.

    The recipe combines fresh and wholesome ingredients like mushrooms, carrots, spring onions, Idaho® potatoes, chicken breasts, and stock—with flavorful mix-ins like soy sauce, poultry herbs, and crushed red pepper flakes.

    This slurp-worthy soup is best served the same day and is a filling comfort-food dinner. Customize it as you like. For example:

  • For a vegetarian/vegan version, swap out the chicken broth for vegetable broth and tofu for the chicken.
  • For seafood lovers, use shrimp instead of chicken.
  •  
    Tips from Stacy:

  • Cook the potatoes for ten minutes and flip them over halfway through until they turn golden brown.
  • It’s best to cook this recipe in steps rather than throwing it all in the pot at once.
  • It’s best served the same day.
  •  
    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 8 ounces baby Bella or gourmet blend mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup white wine, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 large Idaho® potatoes, sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
  • 1 bunch scallions (spring onions) sliced, additional for garnish, optional
  • 2 pre-cooked large chicken breasts, chopped
  • 1 liter chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or liquid amino acids
  • 1 tablespoon poultry herb seasoning (recipe below)
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce or crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • Optional garnishes: finely chopped scallions, red pepper flakes, hot sauce
  •  
     
    RECIPE #2: POULTRY HERB SEASONING

    If you don’t have a jar of poultry herb seasoning, you can blend your own with these ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons dried ground sage
  • 1½ teaspoons dried ground thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground marjoram
  • ¾ teaspoon dried ground rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg (we like to freshly grind it from a nut)
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  •  
    Preparation
     
    COMBINE well and transfer to an airtight container.

    NOTE: In addition to poultry, you can use poultry seasoning—a blend of popular herbs—on beef, lamb, pork, and vegetables; in soups, and in sauces. It’s most flavorful when added to food during the last few minutes of cooking. You can also season appetizers, breads, and salads.
     
    Preparation

    1. DRY CHAR† the sliced mushrooms in a large nonstick saucepan or casserole pan over medium heat, until they start to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

    2. ADD ¼ cup of the white wine to deglaze the pan. Add the olive oil and heat over medium-high heat.

    3. ADD the carrots and potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes. Turn halfway through and cook until the potatoes start to turn golden and the carrots are just starting to soften. Optionally, if you prefer, you can set aside the potatoes to add at the end and enjoy like steak cut fries; or leave them to continue cooking.

    4. ADD the scallions, chopped cooked chicken, broth, soy sauce, the remaining white wine, the poultry herb seasoning, and the cooked mushrooms. Turn the heat to medium-low and continue to cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust flavor if needed.

    5. GARNISH with scallions if desired, and serve with optional hot sauce or crushed red pepper flakes.

     
     
    ________________

    *You may have heard of both Inner Mongolia and Outer Mongolia. Since 1912, Mongolia has been an independent country, sometimes referred to as Outer Mongolia. It is sandwiched between China and Russia. Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region of China, equivalent to a province. It is to the east of the sovereign nation of Mongolia. Both countries speak a variety of languages within the Mongolian language family.

    †To dry char, simply place the mushrooms in a pan and cook them on the stovetop, with no butter or oil. By skipping the fat, the pan will get very hot without smoking, so the mushrooms become charred (not steamed or smoked) as they cook.

     
     

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    Veuve Clicquot & Pommery Champagne & Great Books For Mother’s Day

    Champagne Widows Book Cover
    [1] The Champagne Widows” is the story of Veuve Clicquot, the woman and her eponymous Champagne empire (photo © Lion Heart Publishing).

    Madame Pommery Book Cover
    [2] Among her many contributions, Louise Pommery changes the profile of Champagne from a sweet dessert wine to the brut style we know today. Get the book (photo © Lion Heart Publishing).

    Veuve Cliquot Champagne Orange Label Bottle & Box
    [3] The familiar orange label of Veuve Clicquot. Both houses make different styles of Champagne (photo © Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin).

    Pommery Brut Royal Champagne Bottle & Box
    [4] Pommery and Veuve Cliccquot are both designed with different labels and packaging. Here are the Pommery wines (photo © Champagne Pommery).

    Pouring Veuve Clicquot  Champagne into a glass
    [5] If only every day could end like this (photo © Lauren Bates Photography via Veuve Clicquot).

    Pommery Champagne Bottle & Glass On Tray
    [6] Curl up with a good book and a tulip or flute of Champagne (photo © Vintage Wine Merchants).

    Madame Pommery Portrait
    [7] Madame Louis Pommery, 1875 portrait by Édouard Louis Dubufe.

     

    Recently we had two reading experiences that we deemed to be perfect as gifts for the Champagne lover. Historical novels written by Rebecca Rosenberg, each book focused on a woman who became a legendary Champagne producer: Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin Clicquot, the eponymous Veuve Clicquot, and Louise Pommery, of Champagne Pommery.

    In the early 19th century, the Napoleonic Code denied women civil and political rights, prohibiting them from working, voting, or earning money. Nor could they attend schools and universities without the consent of their husbands or fathers.

    Widows were the only women in France allowed to run their own businesses.

    Both Madame Clicquot and Madame Pommery became role models for entrepreneurs, showing persistence and courage against the odds, with diligence and vision that engendered positive change in their industry.

    The books weave their efforts with the history of the times, in fascinating, colorful, and lively page-turners.

    Both women were amazing irrespective of their gender. Their achievements included keeping their wineries going while facing wars, ruinous agricultural seasons, lack of funds to pay for staff and operations, and difficult business partners, all while raising children and maintaining a household.

    As women, they withstood the scorn of men and other women who believed a woman’s place was in the home, and that women could not, and should not, be winemakers.

    Was it a benefit to be a woman when invasion by alien armies meant the conscription of their workers and the confiscation of their horses, livestock, food, and the wines themselves?

    At least women couldn’t be conscripted; but by the same token, no winemaker of either gender could ship Champagne through a war zone to the big buyers outside of France. Unless, of course, they could figure out some sort of subterfuge….

    As a gift for any fan of Champagne, we highly recommend gifting one or both books with a corresponding bottle of Champagne.
     
     
    BARBE-NICOLE PONSARDIN CLICQUOT OF VEUVE CLICQUOT

    Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin (1777-1866, photo #8), daughter of the affluent Baron Nicolas Ponsardin, married François Clicquot at the age of 21. Her husband died just six years later leaving her a widow (veuve in French) at 27 with a young daughter.

    The widow began a lifetime of fighting: not only fighting for her assets during six Napoleonic wars, but fighting the French social class system, the “women belong at home” Champagne patriarchs and her own obstinate business partners.

    During a lifetime of striving to ensure her winery’s legacy, she taught herself the complexities of making better-quality Champagne. Her efforts were greatly enhanced by the gift of “Le Nez,” an uncanny sense of smell said to be inherited from her great-grandfather, a renowned producer of Champagne.

    Nose aside, one of Madame Clicquot’s innovations was the technique called riddling. Prior to then (1816), Champagne was cloudy as a result of the sediment in the bottles that remained from the yeast used to ferment the wine and create the bubbles.

    She also created:

  • The first vintage champagne (1810).
  • The first known blended rosé champagne (1818).
  •  
    Get the book “Champagne Widows.”

    Give it with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. Here are the different wines.
     
     
    LOUISE POMMERY OF CHAMPAGNE POMMERY

    Jeanne Alexandrine Louise Mélin (1819-1890, photo #7), married Alexandre-Louis Pommery, who owned a winery that was making light reds and very sweet sparkling wines.

    She was widowed at thirty-eight with two children to support. Unlike Madame Clicquot, who hailed from a wealthy family, Madame Pommery needed an income.

    Taking the burden of the winery upon her shoulders, Madame Pommery ditched the reds and revolutionized her Champagne by turning it from a sweet dessert wine* to a dry style that evolved into the brut style we enjoy today. (Today, there are seven levels of sweetness in Champagne.)

    Her motivation was the British market, typically the largest customer for French wines. British palates preferred less sweet wines.

    Champagne Pommery was the first house to commercialize a brut Champagne in 1874—to the scorn of other Champagne makers, who said no one would want it. Madame Pommery had the last laugh: Soon enough, her competitors were adapting her brut style.

    In the vineyard, she left the grapes on the vine to ripen for a longer time and made quality improvements in viticulture.

    In addition to style and quality improvements, Madame Pommery was also a pioneer in the treatment of her workers, providing them with a living wage and benefits.

    The drama never ended in Madame’s quest to keep her business going. Her son and all of her workers are conscripted to fight in the Franco-Prussian war (1870-1871—Madame taught their wives the techniques so they could take their husbands’ places).

    After Napoleon and more than 100,000 French troops were captured (including Madame’s son), the Prussians invaded France. Prussian General Frederick Franz II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, rode into town and commandeered Madame Pommery’s house as his army headquarters.

    What to do then? Madame then secretly excavated ancient Roman chalk quarries under the Reims city dump (!) and moved her bottles there, innovating again by storing and aging Champagne in cool constant temperatures. The wine caves were also useful for hiding partisans!

    Get the book “Madame Pommery.”

    Give it with a bottle of Champagne Pommery. Here are the different wines.
     
     
    MORE ABOUT CHAMPAGNE

  • Appetizers With Champagne
  • Autographed Champagne Bottles
  • Champagne Cocktails
  • Champagne Is A Sustainable Wine
  • Get A Champagne Recorker
  • The History Of Champagne
  • How To Pour Champagne
  • How To Quickly Chill Champagne
  • Oysters & Champagne
  • Pairing Champagne & Barbecue
  • Rosé Champagne With Turkey
  • The Seven Levels Of Sweetness In Champagne
  • The Six Styles Of Champagne
  • Vintage Vs. Non-Vintage Champagne
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    *Sweet dessert Champagnes are still made, but represent a small portion of the region’s total output. They are labeled demi-sec and sec. Although sec means dry in French, the wines are sweet. The seven levels of sweetness in Champagne.
     

     
    Veuve Cliquot Portrait
    [8] Madame Clicquot and her great-granddaughter Anne de Rochechouart de Mortemart (the future Duchesse d’Uzès), by Léon Cogniet in 1862 (via Wikipedia). A pioneer in her own right, Anne (1847-1933) was the first woman in France to receive her driving license and drive racing cars.
     
     
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