prosecco

Unique Champagne Food Pairings

05wine3-1415038061459-jumboAs they say – sometimes you need to take chances…

 

Oysters & Champagne, Caviar & Champagne  are some of the classics but booooring since we are now drinking more Champagne and not always have access to Oysters or Caviar!

Classic Champagne food pairings are great for starters, but what happens after you’ve we finished the same old tired combinations? It’s time to get unique and try some Champagne food pairings that can be enjoyed even when you are not wearing a tuxedo. Besides Champagne, there are a lot of great sparkling wine pairings listed below such as Cava, Prosecco, Franciacorta and American bubbly.

Fried Mushrooms

fried-mushrooms

It’s a little known secret that fried food and Champagne are best friends. Go for a Blanc de Noirs (a white sparkling wine made with dark grapes like pinot noir) with fried mushrooms. The earthiness in the mushrooms is complimented by the more rich fruity/earthy notes that you’ll find common in a Blanc de Noir. An affordable American Blanc de Noirs such Gloria Ferrer

Mac & Cheese

images-2

One of the greatest favorite Champagne pairing  is homemade macaroni and cheese. There are a few important ingredients here for the perfect pairing; the right cheese, the right Champagne, and the right toppings. Don’t get carried away with a sharp cheese. Consider a softer creamery cheese with flavor such as smoked gouda. The Champagne needs to be acidic enough to cut through the cheese without being so strong as to ‘turn’ the cheese. Toppings can be used to fine tune the dish, from pancetta, to truffles, to toasted breadcrumbs. For example, if you were using the smoked gouda, toasted breadcrumbs would be a nice topping to add some crunch and dilute the cheese. Also, when making your mac & cheese use butter, a little cream and american cheese as a base and the flavoring cheese in moderation.

Butternut Squash Ravioli w/Brown Butter Sageunknown

This is a rich but delicate dish…both sweet and earthy as a result of the use of sage and roasted butternut squash. Because it is a slightly sweet dish, it’s important to find a bubbly with inherent sweetness. This classic Italian ravioli dish does wonderfully with Italy’s premiere sparkling wine called Franciacorta. Franciacorta is from Lombardy and actually uses many of the same grape varieties as proper Champagne such as chardonnay, pinot nero (noir) and pinot bianco (blanc). When made with added pinot nero, Franciacorta takes on fruity strawberry notes and a richness of flavor. Franciacorta still hasn’t exploded in the marketplace as much as Champagne so you’re likely to find excellent value from this region. The flavors tend to have slightly less acidity and more fruitiness than most Champagnes and the same toasty-almond character occurs with aging.

BBQ Chicken Sandwich

bbq-food-1200x520.jpg

Mmmmm…BBQ and Cava. Use a smoky BBQ sauce and avoid having sauce with too much spice. Pick a sparkling wine that isn’t too subtle so that the BBQ doesn’t overwhelm the delicate flavors. Think of a slightly spicy, tangy, smoky sauce on your chicken (or tofu if you’re a vegetarian!). Consider adding caramelized onions and just a few gorgonzola crumbles. Pair this sandwich with a bottle of Cava or Prosecco. Although most value cavas don’t have the delicate complexity of a Champagne, they work perfectly to balance the intensity of something simple like BBQ. chicken over pork or beef as the flavor of chicken is lighter than pork and beef, lending it to a better pairing with bubbles.

Vegetarian Red Bean Chili

unknown-1

This is one of the first non-traditional Champagne food pairings  but  experiment with based on a recommendation.  The champagne  made my cheapo chili taste like god food(what does that mean? I don’t know but it sounds right). It’s the moment where you have your cheddar-cheesy chili bite in your mouth and then you wash your mouth out with it. Cava and red bean chili is a thing. Tell your friends.

Advertisements

Pairing Wine with Cheese or Cheese with Wine!!!!

 

Image

Image

At our Wine Tastings, I have often been   asked to tell which wine matched with which cheese. The funny thing is I never thought about cheeses, just cheese. I recently asked my co-workers & friend a similar question about pairing wine and cheese and most of the time the answer, while so amazingly obvious, surprised me
Shawn is our proprietor at our store and as such he is often asked to pair wines with cheese. With very few exceptions, cheese in a restaurant means a cheese plate, and pairing wines with an assortment of cheeses changes the equation entirely. In truth, that’s probably what most people mean when they ask about cheese and wine pairings: not a specific recommendation for a particular cheese, but rather a wine that is flexible enough to pair with many cheeses!

And here I’ve been going on and on and specific pairings for years! I’ll follow up this article with some specific pairings. After all, there does come a time when you have a bottle of wine open throughout a meal and you want to finish off the meal with the last of the bottles and just a bite of cheese. For today, let’s take a look at wines that work with cheese in a more general sense, beginning with Shawn’s recommendation:

Marsala

When most people think of Marsala, they probably think of veal or chicken sautéed and then finished off with the slightly sweet Italian wine know as Marsala. That’s certainly a valid and popular impression of what Marsala might be and one good use for it, but Marsala, like almost every wine, has a more generic example as well as some particularly exceptional bottlings.

Marsala is a fortified wine, similar to Sherry in many ways in that it reaches its peak when carefully aged. The best examples often are vintage dated or are soleras (barrel aged wines of multiple vintages) that have ages of 10 or even 20 years noted on the label.

With this level of maturity, the generally delicate in nature Marsala becomes intensely flavored with notes of almonds, dates and figs. All of these are happy to pair with cheese, particularly ripe, well-aged wash rind cheese, though their high acidity and relatively light body makes them particularly adept with a myriad of pairings.

Sherry

Mentioning that Marsala is similar to Sherry was no accident here, as Sherry easily comes as the second option on this list and one that is both easier to find as well as more affordable than Marsala.

Sherry is a fortified wine made in Spain. It comes in many styles, from light and airy fino to heavy and sweet. The dry versions can sometimes be a little to lean to pair with anything but the most delicate cheese, but when you move onto something with a touch of sweetness, like a Pale Cream Sherry, you can really find some explosive pairings. A runny, pungent cheese is often the perfect partner for the salty, complex flavors of a Pale Cream Sherry, though the style that was once sold as rich or sweet Oloroso, both of which are now prohibited terms when it comes to labeling Sherry, was an absolute perfect match: rich but not heavy, sweet but not sugary and with a tang to match the greatest cheese.

Demi-sec

Both Marsala and Sherry are somewhat esoteric wines, which is why they work so well when it comes to pairing with a variety of cheese. The keys to their success are savory flavors and high acidity. But that is not the only option for those looking to pair wines with multiple cheeses. Sweetness, as with Pale Cream Sherry, is a fine partner for most cheese as long as it’s not taken too far, and there are several wines that are right at home with cheese.

Take for example demi-sec sparkling wine, either Champagne, sparkling wine or even Prosecco. All of these have great acidity and scrubbing bubbles that help balance the richness of the fattiest cheeses. Sugar brightened fruit allows you to contrast the funky flavors of your favorite cheese with a sweet fruit pairing as opposed to the more complimentary flavors of the Sherry and Marsala.

Riesling

Perhaps one of the greatest cheese friendly wines, Riesling often has it all: a bit of sweetness, bright acidity, sweet fruit flavors and if the wine has some age on it, a nice array of savory elements. All of this adds up to a wine that can match well with many cheeses. The generally lighter character of many Riesling really give flexibility for the freshest, buttery cheese or hard aged examples to blues, the wine stumping cheese!

One of the maxims of food and wine pairing is to try to match the intensity of the dish with the intensity of the wine. This is where the many components of Riesling come into play. With so many aspects available to compliment or contrast with the flavors of the cheese, Riesling is able to highlight one aspect of a cheese without dominating the scene.

White Zinfandel

 A well done white Zin is fruity, fresh and a little sweet, which makes it perfectly suitable for pairing with fresher cheese as well as light blues. That sweetness serves as a backstop for more assertively flavored cheese and salty hard cheese. It may not be the perfect match for any one cheese, but we’re speaking in generalities here. A light rose, you can find off dry examples from the Loire, Spain, and Italy as well, is a charming partner for so many cheeses that we simply can’t ignore it.

So what will it be for you- Wine to match your cheese or Cheese to match your wine!