Tag Archives: cocktails

Happy Orange Blossom Day!

“A man who was fond of wine was offered some grapes at dessert after dinner. ‘Much obliged’, said he, pushing the plate aside, ‘I am not accustomed to take my wine in pills.’ “

                                                                                                                                                                         ~ Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Wednesday, June 27, 2018 is National Orange Blossom Day!

The orange blossom  is Florida’s state flower.  National Orange Blossom Day celebrates the flower which is used in culinary dishes, desserts, teas and honey worldwide.  They add a slight citrus flavor to any dish. This special day also celebrates the Orange Blossom Cocktail.

Here’s a fabulous Orange Blossom Cocktail recipe from Foodviva.com:

Makes one cocktail.

Ingredients:

1 ounce London Dry Gin (vodka is also delicious in this cocktail)

1/3 ounce Grand Marnier or Cointreau

1 ounce fresh orange juice (I used blood orange juice)

1/3 ounce fresh lime juice (optional)

1 dash grenadine syrup (optional)

orange wedge

crushed ice

Directions:

  1. Frost the glass rim and put it in freezer to chill.
  2. Fill cocktail shaker 2/3 full of ice.  Add first 5 ingredients to the shaker and shake well.
  3. Strain and pour chilled mixed drink into chilled cocktail glass.
  4. Garnish with orange wedge and serve

I’ve always loved the way shadows play with wine glasses on a table.

My bubbly friend Cindy and I recently enjoyed a special event at Rockfish Restaurant in the Grandin Village, Roanoke, Virginia.  Every third Thursday of the month they offer a flight of tapas paired with a wine flight. https://www.rockfishfood.com/

The first tapa we enjoyed was a goat cheese and cherry tart…puff pastry round topped with creamy mild goat cheese and fresh cherry compote.  We savored every morsel, absolutely delicious paired with Miquel Pons Cava Brut NV.

The second tapa of the evening was a scallop ceviche…refreshing and delicious! Paired with:

  

Viña Cartín Albariño Rías Baixas 2017.

One of my favorite Albariño wines is Lagar de Cervera. Please visit the Roanoker Magazine:  https://theroanoker.com/blogs/behind/what-to-sip-this-summer-spanish-wine/       to find tasting notes and other fun facts about Spanish wines to enjoy sipping this summer.

Cherry Glazed Pork Belly

paired with Genio Español Monastrell Rosado

and for dessert…

Dark Chocolate Creamux with Szechuan Peppercorn Streusel paired with La Greña Rioja

We finished the evening by sharing a couple of appetizers…my favorite…Fried Green Tomatoes wrapped in Pimento Grit Cake with Comeback Sauce and Spicy Greens. Comeback Sauce is a spicy remoulade sauce ~ a Southern favorite!

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Happy Orange Blossom Day!

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Why I love Pink Peppercorns and Pink Champagne On National Margarita Day!

Today is National Margarita Day ~ February 22, 2018. Please keep reading to get my favorite margarita recipe ~ Pink Champagne Lemonade Margaritas!

But first…let’s talk about another one of my favorites…pink peppercorns and other funky color seasonings…

Love Salt and Pepper!

Fun facts about Pink Peppercorns:

  1. Always good to have pink peppercorns on hand because they add a pop of spicy peppery flavor to any savory dish.  They are available on -line if you can’t find them locally. Frontier Co-Op grinder bottle is one of my favorites.
  2. They may seem expensive ($8 to $12 for a .80 ounce bottle)  but they last forever, a little grind goes a long way.
  3. Pink peppercorns are not peppercorns at all.  They are a dried berry of the shrub Schinus molle, commonly known as the Peruvian peppertree. They do look like peppercorns and they have a peppery flavor.
  4. A word of warning...pink peppercorns are members of the cashew family, they may cause allergic reactions including anaphylaxis for persons with a tree nut allergy. I had no idea until I read about this yesterday.   Over the years I’ve developed a tree nut allergy (not severe thankfully) so there goes my  love of pink peppercorns. For those of you who do not suffer this allergy please enjoy pink peppercorns for me!

Fun facts about Himalayan Pink Salt:

Himalayan pink salt is used to flavor food.  It is also used to make salt lamps which are illuminated with an electric light or candle inside. Both the salt used on food and the salt lamps are said to have health benefits, but I’ll let y’all decide on your own about that.

Blocks of Himalayan salt are also used as serving dishes. These blocks of salt can be heated (heat on the grill to serve grilled meats) or chilled to serve sushi, fruits and cheese. The salt blocks give the food a delicate salt flavor.

Fun facts about Green Peppercorns:

  1.  These peppercorns are packed in a vinegar brine.
  2.  They are meant to be eaten whole.
  3. My Mom popped a few green peppercorns (whole) in her Bolognese Sauce. Gave her sauce a little peppery punch which was delicious!
  4. Green Peppercorns are perfect in Steak au Poivre.  Here’s a link to a Food Network recipe for Steak au Poivre with a mushroom, green peppercorn and Dijon sauce:

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/steak-au-poivre-with-a-mushroom-green-peppercorn-and-dijon-sauce-and-pommes-frites-recipe-2124423

green peppercorn bowl

green peppercorn ingredients

Green Peppercorn Boursin Green Bean Salad

One of my favorite salads ~ so much flavor with so little effort!

Yield: 3 servings

1 pound fresh green beans, stems removed, cut in half

1 teaspoon green peppercorns (packed in brine) mashed with a mortar and pestle

5. 2 ounces Shallot and Chive Boursin Cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon

1 heaping teaspoon grated frozen lemon ( Place a washed lemon in the freezer section of  your refrigerator. Once the lemon is frozen, get  your grater, and shred the whole lemon (no need  to peel it) and sprinkle it on top of your  foods.  The lemon seeds catch on the grater so there is no need to worry about seeds getting into your grated lemon.

1/8 teaspoon salt

Fill medium size stockpot half way full of water. Bring water to a boil.  Add green beans and cook until crisp tender (do not undercook or overcook the green beans) 8 – 10 minutes.  Immediately drain the water off the green beans and “shock” them by dropping them in  ice water so that they will stop cooking. Quickly remove them from the ice water and pat dry. Place the beans in a salad bowl and mix in the Boursin cheese.  Add the mashed green peppercorns, tarragon, grated frozen lemon and salt.  Stir with large spoon to combine all of the ingredients.  The Boursin will become creamy and will coat the green beans.  Cover the green bean salad and place in refrigerator until service.

 

The book What to Drink with What You Eat recommends rosé champagne to pair with black pepper.  Here’s my suggestion for a rosé sparkling wine that will be good to splash on top of the Pink Champagne Lemonade Margaritas (recipe below):

Chandon Rosé California Sparkling Wine ~ strawberry and ripe cherry flavors.  $22 range.

Now on to the Margaritas!

I often take food/drink photographs on my kitchen floor because the sun beams onto the floor perfectly for photos.  I have 4 very curious kitties and they often wander into the photo. Today “Ziggy Elman” (named after the Jazz trumpeter) wandered into the photo of my Pink Lemonade Champagne Margaritas. It looks like he took a lick of my margarita. He did not. He was just licking his lips anticipating getting a lick of it  (which I would never allow).

margarita kitty

Pink Champagne Lemonade Margarita

One of the fun things about this cocktail is that when you finish the cocktail you get to eat the blackberries that have been soaking in the margarita…yum!

Rim margarita glasses by dipping them in lime juice and then rolling the edges in fine sugar (“Extra Fine” otherwise known as “Fine” sugar is best for rimming cocktail glasses because it has the smallest crystal of all white sugars.  It has a delicate appearance and dissolves easily into cold drinks). Locally I purchase fine sugar at Fresh Market or it is available on-line.  Place margarita glasses in the freezer to chill  while preparing your cocktails.

12 ounces frozen pink lemonade, thawed

(use empty lemonade can to measure water, tequila and orange liqueur)

1 can water

1 can tequila

1/4 can orange liqueur

Rosé Champagne or Sparkling Wine ~ a splish splash for each drink (optional)

Blackberries and limes for garnish

Lime slices and fine sugar to rim the margarita glasses

Place the pink lemonade, water, tequila and orange liqueur in a large pitcher. Stir with a big spoon until all ingredients are combined.  In batches, place margarita mixture and ice in a blender container. Blend until ice is finely crushed.  Serve in chilled margarita glasses.  Top each cocktail with a splash of Rosé Champagne or Sparkling Wine. Drop a few blackberries into the margaritas and then cut slits in some blackberries to set on the sides of the glasses.  Place one thin lime slice in each glass. Place any unused portion of this cocktail in a freezer container and place in freezer to keep cold for refills.

pink lemonade magaritas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oh The Weather Outside Is Frightful But These Sparkling Winter Cocktails Are Delightful!

Fun times this week with WSLS Daytime Blue Ridge (Roanoke, Virginia) preparing Sparkling Winter Cocktails.  These cocktails will warm your heart during the cold winter months!  Here’s the video link…cheers!

https://www.wsls.com/daytime-blue-ridge/celebrate-2018-with-sparkling-winter-cocktails

Here’s the recipes…enjoy!

champagne shooters

Champagne Jello Shots

1 1/2 cup champagne or sparkling wine

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 cup sugar

3 envelopes (1/4 ounce each) plain gelatin

1/4 cup citrus flavored vodka

Yellow or champagne color decorative sugar

“Sugarfina” Brut and Rosé Champagne Gummy Bears

Place champagne (or sparkling wine) in a saucepan, add lemon juice and sugar. Stir to combine. Sprinkle gelatin over the champagne mixture and allow to “bloom” for 3 minutes. Heat the champagne gelatin mixture over medium low heat and whisk until the gelatin is dissolved.  Remove from heat and stir in vodka.

Pour champagne gelatin mixture into individual plastic champagne flutes.  Chill for several hours until firm.  Just before serving sprinkle the champagne Jello shots with decorative sugar and top each shot with a champagne gummy bear. Serve with chilled cocktail spoons.

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.

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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virginiabloggersover-the-moon-link-party-600x600fiesta-friday-2016

Lovin’ Sippin’ Cider!

cider-week-1

Both of these ciders are luscious sippin’ ciders.

blood-orange-cider-3

I love tasting ciders that are new to me during Cider Week!  Bold Rock Blood Orange Cider is such a treat! Blood orange juice blended with the juice of Blue Ridge apples. Crisp tart apple flavor paired with tangy citrus. Bright reddish-orange color. This is a fall and winter seasonal cider.

cider-raspberry-1

Kelly’s ciders are imported from Ireland and the UK and bottled in the United States. Nice raspberry pop to it. Aroma of fresh raspberries. Tiny bit of effervescence and sweetness.

cider-drink-lucky-with-candle

Several local restaurants (River and Rail, Lucky, Fortunato and Local Roots) are having a friendly competition to see which bar creates the best cider cocktail during Virginia Cider Week (November 11 – 20, 2016).  Lucky Restaurant created the SCOTCHY Pippen- Foggy Ridge Pippen Gold, Rye, Drambuie, Lucky Artichoke Bitters #vaciderweek #foggyridgecider. Our Scotchy Pippen was prepared by Hunter Johnson, one of the owners of Lucky and local celebrity bartender.  He explained that this cocktail is “boozy” or “Spirit forward”.  I found it to be rich and deliciously sippable, perfect for Fall.

The ingredients for this cocktail:

1/2 ounce Drambuie
1 1/2 ounce Rye whiskey
3/4 ounce Foggy ridge pippin gold cider
Add a little squeeze of lemon if you’d like
1 drop Artichoke bitters
Orange twist

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and stir (stirring the ice gives the cocktail some “ice melt” which helps to diffuse the spirits since this is such a “spirit forward” cocktail). Strain and serve over large ice cubes in a cocktail glass. Garnish with orange peel.

pippin-cider-1

We enjoyed our cocktail with a Lucky cheese plate…freshly baked crusty bread with olive oil, olive tapenade, olive mix and camembert cheese.

cheese-plate-lucky

 

peach

Francisco and the Giant Peach cocktail River and Rail Restaurant. (not a cider drink…just a little cocktail I enjoyed recently…)

Peach infused Lunazul Tequila, St. Germain, Yellow Chartreuse, House Dry Vermouth, Floral Peach, Herbs & Bitter Notes. Stirred. Served on a Large Ice Cube. Lemon Twist Garnish.  Crisp peach flavors, refreshing!

olives

virginiabloggers11

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fiesta-friday-2016

over-the-moon-link-party-600x600

Cocktail School At River and Rail Restaurant!

cocktail shake

Sunday evening my bubbly friend and I attended Cocktail School at River and Rail Restaurant in Roanoke, Virginia.  Our talented “Cocktail Professors” were Devon Steiner, Manager and Sous Chef John Diaz (pictured above) of River and Rail.

Veuve champagne

We started the evening with Veuve Ambal Blanc de Blancs Brut sparkling wine.  A lovely apéritif, crisp, dry, with notes of fresh apple and a touch of honey. A lively little sparkler!

A bit of history about this bubbly from http://devinewine.com.au

Maison Veuve Ambal was founded in the heart of Burgundy in 1898, by Veuve Marie Ambal, widow of a Parisian banker. Marie returned to Rully to join her brother, a wine lover and wine broker, to make wine at the time “method traditionelle” was being introduced for sparkling wines. The wines immediately gained recognition, and her grandson Charles Roux Ambal, followed by his grandson and current President Eric Piffaut, have continued to build on Marie’s philosophy of quality, and the combination of tradition and modernity which is the signature of Veuve Ambal. With over 200 hectares of vineyards across Burgundy, mainly planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Veuve Ambal remain leaders in the production of  sparkling wines today. 

Pale yellow gold in colour, the Veuve Ambal Cremant de Bourgogne shows an exceptionally fine, persistent mousse. The fruity bouquet shows enticing citrusy notes, with a hint of red fruits and some biscuity complexity. The palate is elegant and harmonious, the finish long, crisp and dry. 

strawberry shrub

One of the reasons that River and Rail’s Strawberry Daiquiri tastes so good…they make the daiquiri with strawberry shrub (pictured above).  A shrub is a vinegar-based syrup and referred to as “Drinking Vinegar”. Drinking vinegar is often infused with fruit juice, herbs and spices for use in mixed drinks.  Devon and Chef John recommend adding ingredients to match the season such as clove and cinnamon during the holidays.  Our shrub had a little orange zest in it. My bubbly friend and I determined that the shrub made the daquiri taste not as syrupy sweet as commercial mixes which was refreshing. They recommended serving the daiquiri in a chilled coupe glass. Double straining with a cocktail strainer is a good idea for this drink to remove any ice crystals. Always use fresh juices in your cocktails, it’s worth the little bit of extra effort.

River and Rail Strawberry Shrub

Wash and slice 1# strawberries

Cover with 2 cups granulated sugar, stir to coat evenly

Let this sit with a breathable cover (cheesecloth) for 24-48 hours

Strain syrup through fine mesh strainer or use coffee filter

Add red wine vinegar to taste (Devon likes 2/3 cup for this recipe)

Pour into mason jar and refrigerate. Over time, the shrub will mellow out and flavors marry

  • Experiment with citrus, spices and vinegars
  • Great in nonalcoholic beverages as well

River and Rail Strawberry Daiquiri

2 ounces rum

1 ounce lime juice

1 ounce strawberry shrub

1 dash rhubarb bitters

Add ice to shaker, shake hard, double strain into coupe glass. Optional garnish:  Thin lime wheel, strawberry or cherry

River and Rail Bourbon Sour

1.5 ounces bourbon

.75 ounces simple syrup

.75 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice

Add ice to shaker, shake hard, strain into rocks glass

Sour mix:  DO NOT BUY STORE SOUR, make your own. Equal parts lemon juice to simple syrup. Simple syrup:  1 cup sugar + 1 cup boiling water = 1.5 cups simple syrup. Refrigerate up to 1 month.

negronivermouth

June 6 – June 12, 2016 was National Negroni Week. Here’s a link to some fun information about this Italian cocktail: https://www.thrillist.com/drink/nation/negroni-cocktail-facts-history-negroni-week

They recommend serving this cocktail over a “big rock” (large ice cube that fills the glass).  Do not shake this cocktail because shaking bruises the botanicals in the gin.

River and Rail Negroni

1 ounce gin

1 ounce sweet vermouth

1 oz. Campari

Combine over ice, stir until glass is frosty, about 30 stirs.  Serve over ice or up.  Garnish: Orange Peel

meatstrawberry bowl

The  lovely hors d’oeuvres included housemade Charcuterie and fresh strawberries.

champagne

Finished this lovely evening on the patio under the stars with this bottle of bubbly: Tendil & Lombardi  Blanc de Noirs Champagne.

100 % pinot noir champagne. Creamy mousse, crisp apple and raspberry notes with a hint of toast.  Wine Spectator rated this champagne “90 points”.

L Asiatic Trogon Lily

This Red Carpet Cocktail Deserves An Academy Award!

chili oil on red carpet cocktail

Link to The London Bar, NYC: http://www.thelondonnyc.com/photos-en.html

Jean Carlos Parra, Bartender, The London Bar, NYC creates this fanciful cocktail: The Red CarpetI was intrigued by the Thai Chili Pepper-Infused Oil drizzled on the top of this fabulous raspberry blood orange cocktail. Here’s the original recipe and a couple of my twists – very easy to make and very sippable!

The Red Carpet

10 fresh raspberries (I did not have fresh raspberries so I used 4 tablespoons frozen raspberry puree that I had in the freezer – I made the raspberry puree by placing fresh raspberries in a saute pan, heating and smashing them with a fork until they are mushy and juicy. Strain the puree through a fine sieve. Discard seeds from sieve. Place juice in a freezer container and freeze until ready to use. )

2 ounces blood orange puree (I did not have blood oranges so I substituted 2 ounces of blood orange European soda – the soda has a little carbonation in it – this soda is sold locally at Fresh Market.)

1 ounce fresh lime juice

1 ounce agave nectar

3 ounces vodka (I used 1 ounce of Sunset Hills Virginia Gin…I did not want a strong drink so I used less than the 3 ounces the original recipe called for and I wanted to make a gin drink so I used the Sunset Hills. I like this particular gin because it does not have a strong juniper berry flavor or aroma.  https://sipologyblog.com/2012/04/24/sunset-hills-virginia-gin/ (Other types of gin may be too strong in juniper berry flavor for this drink.)

5 – 10 drops of Thai chili-infused oil (optional) (I found this oil at our local Asian market.)

In a cocktail shaker, muddle approximately 10 raspberries (if using raspberry puree place puree in cocktail shaker). Add blood orange puree (or blood orange soda), lime juice, agave nectar, and vodka (or gin) and shake vigorously. (I added a few ice cubes to the cocktail shaker to make sure the cocktail was icy cold.) Strain into a chilled martini glass. For an added kick, top with Thai chili-infused oil.

 

Tequila Watermelon Sparkler and Szigeti!

watermelon

This fanciful cocktail was featured in the June, 2016 Food and Wine Magazine.  Tastes like a watermelon margarita on the rocks! Use good quality tequila in this recipe to make a fabulously refreshing cocktail. “Aguas Frescas” is “Fresh Waters” in Spanish.  Fruits, flowers, cereals and seeds are combined with sugar and water to make refreshing beverages often sold by street vendors in Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and the United States.

Tequila-Watermelon Aguas Frescas with Prosecco

Makes 12 drinks

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1 chilled seedless watermelon (15 lbs.), rind discarded and watermelon cubed (20 cups)

3/4 cup tequila blanco

6 limes, thinly sliced

3 mint sprigs, plus mint leaves for garnish

Ice

1 bottle chilled Prosecco

  1.  In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Transfer the simple syrup to a heatproof bowl and let cool.
  2. In a food processor or blender, puree the watermelon in batches until smooth. Strain the puree into a large bowl or pitcher. Stir in the simple syrup, tequila, lime slices, 3 mint sprigs and 1/2 cup water.
  3. To serve, pour the watermelon agua fresca into ice-filled glasses, leaving 1 inch at the top.  Top off the drinks with Prosecco and garnish with mint leaves.

 Make ahead:  The strained watermelon juice can be refrigerated overnight.

Here’s a fun peachie drink to enjoy while we wait for fresh peach season to arrive:

Peachtree City

1 oz vodka

3 or 4 oz lime juice

1 oz berentzen peach schnapps

1 or 2 oz cranberry juice

1 or 2 oz simple syrup

Add all ingredients to shaker tin, fill with ice, and shake.  Double strain into cocktail glass and garnish with channel knife lime peel.

champagne seizler

The name Szigeti is intriguing…this lovely Austrian sparkling wine tickled my taste buds. I was pleasantly surprised at the first sip – creaminess on the palate with crisp apple notes.

Grape Varieties: Grüner Veltliner

Region: Lake Neusiedl – Burgenland

Tasting Notes from website:
Lovely golden colour with light green tinges. Delicate aromas of apple with a touch of white pepper. Dry with crunchy acidity, hint of honeysuckle and kiwi over elegant lime notes.

My notes: Creamy, fruity with apple notes.

Locally sourced at Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar, Roanoke, Virginia ($21.00 range)

From Karen MacNeil’s WineSpeed Newsletter:

 Wine question of the week:  Which of the following is the driest style of Champagne or sparkling wine?

A. Brut   B. Extra Dry   C. Demi-sec    D. Extra Brut

Answer:  D. Extra Brut is a very dry Champagne or sparkling wine with less than .6 percent of sugar per liter.  Brut is a dry to very dry style containing less than 1.5 percent sugar per liter. Extra Dry is slightly sweeter than Brut. And Demi-sec, with 3.3 to 5.0  percent of sugar per liter, is sweeter than Extra Dry.

Rose kind of day

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