wine pairing

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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LABOR DAY – WHAT WINE TO SERVE WITH YOUR BBQ

Labor Day with our family sometimes begins local craft brews; such as not your NOT YOUR FATHERS ROOT BEER and you most defiantly can’t go wrong with good, cold beer in a tub of ice. My husband like me, are committed to being wine fans. Choosing the right wines isn’t as easy as you might think.  Often times, he would say it’s totally about the meat, the technique, and the sauce! I happen to agree

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There are many flavors you’ll come across while barbecuing: umami, smoky, salty char, and sometimes sweetness and savory. They’ll vary by which area you are eating the BBQ like in Texas barbecue, beef rules, either brisket or ribs, and is often served with a sweet, hot tomato-based sauce. The flavor is deeply smoky, the meat rich. On the other hand Southern-style like North Carolina pork barbecue, hang on on vinegar-based sauces and lighter spice rubs.

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So for a stern wine-and-barbecue conversation, big, heavy, high-alcohol reds seem heavy with rich meat goes great with chilled rosé.

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What you want for all types of barbecues are wines that rub the smoke and sauce off your tongue so you can take another fresh bite.  So with dense, ingratiating brisket needs the difference and refreshment of acidity and bright fruitiness. We are great drinkers of Super Tuscan wine barbecue pairing. These big, heavy, high-alcohol reds seem ponderous with rich meat. We feel biased just thinking about the combo. Here are some tips on what to try instead:

  • Rosé (“the beer of the wine world”) with barbecue.  Me, too—and the fruitier the better, to hold its own with smoked meat.
  • Syrah or some people call it Shiraz with your spicy chicken wings
  • White wine with barbecue only if it’s grilled shrimp or chicken with citrus-y rubs can be delicious with tart, floral-scented vinho verde, we’d rather drink bubbly or a chilled rosé.
  • Reds – Save big, bold, tannic, high-dollar reds, such as cabernet, for char-grilled steaks. The quick cooking doesn’t break down the meat’s fat the way hours in a barbecue pit do, but the wine’s tannin will do the trick.
  • Forget oaky wines. The meat is already smoky enough, and a spicy sauce will make the wine’s oak character stand out even more.
  • Keep your choices simple. Grilled foods and barbecue have so many intense flavors that wine nuances will be lost.
  • Pulled pork and succulent ribs go very well with lively pinot noir and with other high acid, lighter reds or rosés that can be chilled.

The Seven Deadly Sines of Wine

We are all guilty  of these mistakes.   Eventhough some might claim that it should just be about the wine and how it tastes, which is true, but by knowing, recognizing and avoiding these 7 Deadly Sins of wine, you might enjoy that glass even more!

Getting the most out of each bottle is vital because, and lets be real here, most wines are luxury items. Wasting an opportunity with wine is wasteful at its least and disrespectful at its worst in my book. After all, a lot of people put a ton of effort into ensuring that they put the best juice possible in every bottle and we should be able to enjoy it in every glass.

So avoid these common wine mistakes and take advantage of those efforts. Besides, it’ll make the wine taste better too!

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This Wine is Too Cold

This is one of the least difficult wine mistakes you can make. Unless you’re tailgating outside of  Dodgers  Stadium on a bitter journey back, it’s pretty easy to remedy. Just let your wine warm up!

Over chilling wines may make them refreshing, but it also tamps down the aromas and flavors of the wine while highlighting the tannins. Dull, chewy reds and insipid whites are the result of serving your wines too cold.

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 This Wine is Too Hot

Serving wines too hot is much worse than serving them too cold. The temperature doesn’t do any favors for the wine, but it also tends to be indicative of mistreatment. We are  an outlier in the wine world because we  believe that wine is fairly durable, particularly if we’re talking about short term storage.

So while we are  not horrified by wines stored in the high 70s for somewhat extended periods of time, anything hotter and you’re quickly cooking your wine. This damage will show up in time as caramel, molasses flavors and the premature aging of the wine with an accompanying change in color.

While storing wines at 75 degrees is probably alright, serving them that hot is really a no-no. The high temperatures stimulates the evaporation of alcohol and volatile compounds in the wine, marring the nose while making the wine feel soft and flabby in the mouth, a double whammy.

  

This Wine Needs Some Mouth-to-Mouth

Letting a wine breath is often seen as a pompous affectation of snobby old men and their fancy wines, nothing could be further from the truth. Think about it: wines have been bottled with durability in mind, often being produced in reductive, or oxygen free environment. The wines need to take a few breaths of air in order to stretch out and relax.

Do you ever think that the last glass of wine from a bottle is the best? That is no coincidence. Letting a wine breath helps to stimulate the development of aromas and soften tannins.

 

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This Wine Needs a Bowl

Yes glassware does matter. Recognize that there is a right time for bigger bowls, like when you have a wine that has more to say.

A nice, big bowl, at least 10 ounces, leaves plenty of space for swirling and allows for a wine’s aromas to accumulate, making it easier for you to enjoy. A glass that exposes a large percentage of your glass to air also allows for those aromas to emerge more rapidly from your wine, upping the aromatic intensity of your wine even more.

 

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This Wine Needs a Rest

There’s a phenomenon in the wine world known as “travel shock.” It basically says that wines which have recently traveled need to rest in order to show their best. While we have no idea what the scientific basis for such claims might be, we have experienced travel shock in our wines enough to believe that it is real. It’s probably similar to bottle shock, which is basically the same phenomenon but refers to wines that have been recently bottled, another form of stress on the wine.

Both bottle shock and travel shock produce wines that are muted, dull and basically uninteresting.

Let your wines rest!

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This Wine Needs A Better Dinner Partner

While it is easy to promote a “drink-what-you-like-with-your-dinner” attitude, the truth is that some wines simply don’t work with certain foods and vice versa. For examples may be limited but a few that   include wines with artichokes, which make wine taste bitter, oily fish and big reds, where the wine tastes like tannin and metal, and salad with low acid wines, where the dressing makes the wine taste sad and flabby.

 

Assuming You Know

Assuming that you really know enough about a wine to dismiss it after one encounter is the biggest mistake we make with wine. There are so many things that can make a wine show poorly, from the six mistakes that lead up to this one to things like bad corks, dirty glassware and even a bad palate day. Hey, it happens to the best of us.

I know its disingenuous  to tell you  give a wine a second chance once you’ve decided you don’t like it, but we can’t  tell you how many times we’ve been pleasantly surprised by a wine on the second go ‘round. It all boils down to having an open mind and realizing that we all make mistakes, so next time you don’t have a good experience with a wine, don’t be so quick to blame the wine!

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

 

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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!