Monthly Archives: December 2017

All That Sparkles

Thank you Tonya…fourthgenerationfarmgirl.com…for this bubbly insight…Happy New Year! đŸ„‚đŸŸđŸ’ž

fourth generation farmgirl

I absolutely love fizzy and sparkling wines!  And, since New Year’s Eve celebrations are fast approaching, I thought it may be fun and helpful to share some information about Champagne and sparkling wines.  I’ve also included a few of my favorites.

Champagne:

First, all that sparkles isn’t Champagne.  Sparkling wine can only be called Champagne if it’s from the Champagne region in France and made in the traditional method (mĂ©thode champenoise).  The traditional method is a labor intensive, multi-step process (two fermentations) that contributes to the expense.  Champagne can be made from three grapes:  chardonnay and red-skinned pinot noir and pinot meunier.  Sometimes the label will use the terms “blanc de blancs” meaning the wine was made from white grapes, or “blanc de noirs” indicating that the Champagne is a white wine made from the dark pinot noir and pinot meunier varieties.  There are also different levels of dryness/sweetness


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Holiday Sparkling Guide 2017 – The Bubbles

Some lovely bubbly recommendations from Christine at Girls Go Grape to ring in the New Year. Cheers!

Girls Go Grape

Hello and happy wine Wednesday to you!

As 2017 draws to a peaceful close, I can’t help but reflect upon the past year – there were some personal accomplishments, like graduating with ‘Highest Honours’ in my Master of Champagne course and being accepted as a wine judge with the International Wine and Spirit Competition based in London, England.  And, I met and connected with incredible wine writers and bloggers this past November in Sonoma who have become lifelong friends.

Most significantly, my little family and I made a decision earlier this year to move to Champagne, France as of June 2018 for one year.  It will be an adventure and a great opportunity – more on our trip in posts to come


PH

OK, enough reflecting, on to the sparkling bottle shopping list for 2018.  All wines listed are available through the B.C. liquor stores unless noted otherwise:

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Make Your Holidays Sparkle With These Cocktails ~ Pear Prosecco Cocktail+ Raspberry Prosecco Christmas Punch

During the holidays I spend an inordinate amount of time in the grocery stores…Most of that time is spent wrestling with plastic bags ~ trying to open them ~ in the fresh produce section!   Today I asked the lady that was working in the produce section how to open the bag. She told me a little trick. She said “Rub your fingers on a cucumber or some produce that has wax on it and then the wax on your fingers will help you open the bag easily.” I tried it and it works. Of course I would end up purchasing the cucumber,  but until I find a better solution…please let me know any tricks you all have up your sleeve to open these tenacious bags.

cork

blog cocktail

Pear and Prosecco Cocktail

My bubbly friend Cindy treated me to lunch to celebrate the holidays. She served this lovely cocktail which was absolutely fabulous!  Instead of using the traditional Barlett pears, she substituted Asian pears. The fun thing about Asian pears is that they are always ripe. They are picked at the perfect stage of ripeness so they are ready to enjoy as soon as you pluck them from the market.

Cindy purchases Asian Pears from Virginia Gold Orchard which is a fun day trip from Roanoke, Virginia:  http://www.virginiagoldorchard.com

The original recipe for the Pear and Prosecco Cocktail is a Southern Living Christmas Cookbook recipe.

Serves 6

Pear simple syrup:

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup finely chopped peeled pear (or Asian Pear)

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup (2 ounces) pear liqueur

Ingredients to finish the cocktail:

6 thin pear slices (or Asian pear slices) Cindy put the pear slices in the pear simple syrup to keep them from turning brown while she prepared our cocktails.

1 (750-milliliter) bottle prosecco, chilled

Combine water, chopped pear, and sugar in a small saucepan; bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes.  Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a measuring cup; discard solids.  Stir in liqueur. Divide evenly among 6 champagne flutes. Place 1 pear slice in each glass, and top with prosecco.

december pear

water

Cindy also served sparkling water with fresh cranberries and rosemary ~ refreshing and delicious!

Prosecco Raspberry Christmas Punch

Serves 4

The citrus spice sugar mixture requires it to sit overnight to infuse the citrus spice flavors into the sugar.

6 tablespoons fine sugar

Peel of one Meyer lemon

Peel of two Mandarin oranges

1 cinnamon stick

2 star anise

6 ounces fresh raspberries + (reserve a few of the raspberries to use for garnish)

1/2 cup gin

1.5  ounces blood orange liqueur

1.5  ounces Cointreau

1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice

1 bottle Prosecco

Citrus peel twists for garnish

Ice

In a small container with a tight-fitting lid combine the sugar, lemon and Mandarin orange peels, cinnamon stick and star anise.  Seal the container and refrigerate overnight. Turn the container over several times while it is in the refrigerator to mix the sugar, spice and citrus.

Place raspberries in cocktail shaker. Muddle raspberries with the back of a wooden spoon.  Add gin and stir gently.  Add citrus sugar mixture, lemon juice, Cointreau and blood orange liqueur. Fill shaker with ice and shake to combine all ingredients.  Pour mixture through fine mesh strainer into a pitcher. Add prosecco and stir gently.  Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve in champagne flutes garnished with raspberries and citrus peel twists.

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Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays And Best Wishes For A Bright New Year!

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Tasting and Drinking RosĂ© Champagne with Ed McCarthy

More reasons to love RosĂ©…bubbles! Thank you for these recommendations Charles Scicolone. Happy Holidays!

Charles Scicolone on Wine

Once again this year, “Champagne” Ed McCarthty, author of Champagne for Dummies spoke about his favorite topic Champagne to the Wine Media Guild. The tasting and lunch was held at Il Gattopardo Restaurant in NYC. The Champagne of choice was RosĂ©, both vintage and non-vintage, and 22 were featured in the tasting.

Ed explained there are two ways to make RosĂ© Champagne.  For the traditional method, a small amount, about 10 to 15%, of still or regular Pinot Noir is added to the cuvĂ©e before the second fermentation.  The other method involves skin contact (maceration). The skins of black grapes are pressed slightly and left in contact with the juice to soak or steep until the desired color is achieved.  This method is more difficult because the same color must be achieved year after year. Even though the second method seems to be the “purer” one, Ed said in blind


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Sparkling Wines For Holiday Celebrations ~ $30 Or Less

ginger

There are times when only the best will do and that’s the time for special pricey champagnes. Other times, when entertaining large groups of people or mixing bubbly drinks, less expensive sparkling wines are a better choice.  It is in that spirit that I present to you sparkling wines under $30 for the holidays…

…Best Sparkling For Sipping…

Perfectly lovely bubbly to have on hand for last-minute guests or a hostess gift.

Blend of 68% Chardonnay and 12% Pinot Noir. Soft and balanced with apple, pear and citrus flavors.  $20 – $25 range.

champagne toast

gloria

Gloria Ferrer has been my “house sparkling wine” forever. I can always count on her to be a bubbly delight.  91% Pinot Noir, 9% Chardonnay. Pear and green apple notes. $23 range.

Gloria will be the perfect choice to create these lovely sparkling cocktails featured in Food and Wine Magazine:  http://www.foodandwine.com/slideshows/sparkling-wine-cocktails#4  The Marasca Fizz  sounds especially delicious and festive. This Champagne cocktail is served with pitted sweet cherries soaked in an anise-infused syrup.

Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.

Benjamin Franklin
Domaina Carneros was founded by the Taittinger family of Champagne, France. This lovely sparkling wine is made in the Méthode Traditionnelle.
Lots of tiny bubbles dancing in the glass. Notes of pear, Meyer lemon and brioche. $30 range.

…for Toasting…

A delightful sparkling wine from Oregon…Argyle 2014 Vintage Brut. Delightful sparkling brut produced in the Willamette Valley, Oregon.   65% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, 5% Pinot Meunier. Notes of ripe pear, fig and roast hazelnut. Balanced with a long finish. $29 range.

Piper

60% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meunier. Notes of apple, toast, peach and crisp citrus flavors. $20 range.

willm sparkling wine

WillmCrĂ©mantd’Alsace Blanc de Noirs Brut.  Cremant d’Alsace is the appellation for the sparkling wines of the Alsace wine region of north-eastern France. The methodetraditionelle is used to make this bubbly.  100% pinot noir grapes. Nice and light (for a pinot noir) but has a good taste structure, apple and citrus notes.  $20 price range.

Rosé

Aimery

Aimery Crémant Brut Rosé!
‘CrĂ©mant’ sparkling wines are made using the same method as Champagne. Ribbons of bubbles and sparkling notes of berries just like your favorite champagne, without breaking the bank. Delicate, fresh with a long, mouth-filling finish. The color of this sparkling blushes just slightly and tiny bubbles consistently rise to the top of glass. Available locally at Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar: http://mrbillswinecellar.com/
This bubbly makes a lovely holiday hostess gift. $17 range.

McBride Sisters

NEW ZEALAND SPARKLING WINE!

McBride Sisters Brut Rosé

Notes of raspberry and toast with a creamy finish.  $25 range.

tazmanian-champagne

Jansz Tasmania is a pioneer of deluxe sparkling wine in Australia. Jansz is made by the mĂ©thode champenoise.   Jansz RosĂ© ~ pale salmon in color, with a fine bead, this wine has a rich floral bouquet of strawberries with a soft and creamy palate. Available locally at Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar: http://mrbillswinecellar.com  $26 range.

Best Bubbly for Mimosas, Punches and Cocktails 

mimosa strawberry

cristalino

When the occasion calls for “massive amounts of mimosas” ~ when every friend and relative converge on your house for holiday frivolity ~ a less expensive but reliable bubbly is the answer.  Jaume Serra Cristalino Cava.  $10 range.

freiznet

This bubbly Cava is produced by the same winery that gives us Gloria Ferrer, one of my favorite sparkling wines:  https://www.gloriaferrer.com/carneros-winery

The perfect casual sparkling sipper…from Catalonia, Spain. 100% Chardonnay grapes.  A bubbly value…$10 range.  Lots of fun bubbles. Notes of baked apple with just a touch of lemon. Available on-line. I also found this Cava locally at Tinnell’s in Roanoke, Virginia. http://tinnells.com

Happy Holidays!

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Our House (Taittinger)

Love Taittinger! Thank you David Crossley.

David Crossley's Wide World of Wine

Many of you will know that I have something of a thing for Grower Champagne. It comes from an interest in wines which express “place”, terroir wines, I suppose. But that doesn’t mean I ignore the so-called Grandes Marques. For almost as long as I can remember I’ve had a special relationship with Taittinger, perhaps ever since I visited their impressive chalk cellars in Reims (which, along with Ruinart, are probably the best in the city).

The whole philosophy behind a Grande Marque like Taittinger is that they claim to be able to reproduce wines in the same style every year. This is certainly true of their non-vintage cuvĂ©e. Their literature plays down vintage character, and yet Taittinger produces four very fine vintage wines. It’s just that two of them are not labelled as such.

This is because the whole of the marketing at Taittinger is to tell


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Tuesday Tunes: My Favorite Things

Lots to love on Tonya’s Favorite Things List. I’ll be sharing this list with Santa! Happy Holidays!

fourth generation farmgirl

 I recently read an article on holiday entertaining.  It suggested having a “Favorite Things” party, where everyone brings and shares a favorite item with the other partygoers.  The gifts don’t have to be expensive– just something you really love: a simple kitchen gadget, a fun nail polish, or a special tea.  Well, since my December is already fairly busy, I won’t be able to host such a party this year.  But, it did give me the idea for this post.

During this time of giving and entertaining, I thought I would share some of our favorite things—a few ideas for easier entertaining as well as suggestions for gifts or stocking stuffers. It’s an eclectic list, but hopefully a helpful and fun one as well!

I would love to hear about your favorite things, too!

Elvis’ Christmas Album

Growing up, it just wasn’t Christmas at my house until we heard Elvis


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