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Archive for the ‘Sparkling White Wine’ Category

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I know you’re probably being inundated with what you should/absolutely/must have for the best/most exciting/most extravagant Thanksgiving this year for wine and food and I promise I will not do that to you.  Instead, I’m just going to tell you what I’m going to have. As a bonus, I’m even throwing in the recipes.  What?!?!? Aaron is giving us recipes? That’s right. I’m going all mainstream on you.  Not just listing the ingredients like I normally do and making you figure it out, but actual recipes that you could follow if you wanted to do that sort of thing.

This year I’ve decided on a South by Southwest theme.  No, not the festival in Austin, but southern and southwestern cooking mixed together.  My mother grew up in the south, my father in the southwest…so meta.  Anyway, as always, if you want advice, send me an e-mail with what you’re having and I’ll help you pick out some wines.  Happy early Thanksgiving!

The Wines

Aperitif: Pere Ventura Tresor Rosé

Meal time: Scott Paul La Pauleé 2008 (Pinot Noir)

Digestif: Averna Amaro Siciliano Fratelli Averna (Not wine, just in case you were wondering. Amaros are hot this year, oh yeah)

Turkey

The Brine (Do the day before):

2 gallons water
2 cups Kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 fennel bulb, split
1 white onion, split
2 limes, sliced
4 sprigs of thyme
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 sprigs of oregano
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 bay leaf

Toast all the spices in a skillet until they are aromatic, then put all of the ingredients in a stock pot and simmer until the salt is dissolved and the fennel has softened a bit (10-15 minutes).  Let the brine cool, put your turkey in and cover it for at least 12 hours.  Before you’re ready to pop it in the oven, remove from the brine and pat dry.  Preheat the oven to 400F Then add the rub.

The Rub:

1 tablespoon coriander seeds crushed
1 tablespoon fennel seeds crushed
1 teaspoon  thyme
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons crushed dried chilies (ancho, guajillo, etc.)
Peel of 1 small lime (no pith please) grated
1 tablespoon minced onions
4 tablespoons softened butter

Mix all ingredients together and rub all of your turkey.  Get it mostly under the skin.  Yes, your hands will get dirty.  You can wash them later.
Pop that bird in the oven at 400F for 30minutes.  Hopefully, you have a meat thermometer.
Turn the heat down to 325F and continue to cook for 1 hour.
If you have the time, turn the heat down to 250F and cook until the white meat is 165F or the dark meat is 175F, otherwise just leave it at 325 and your bird will finish up within another hour.  If you want to get crazy, go ahead and baste the turkey with the drippings that fall every 1/2 hour or so.  Expect your total cooking time to go up a little when you do this though since heat is escaping the oven.  On to the sides!

Green Chilies Sauce (Replacement gravy)

2 cans green chilies
½ quart cream
Salt/pepper

Put the first two ingredients in a saucepot and raise to a simmer.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Make 10 minutes before you serve all the food.  For the advanced user, instead of the canned goods, go ahead and get 4 poblano peppers.  Stick them on the grill with the corn until all sides are blistered and blackened.  Then slide them into a sealed container or bag for a few minutes so they steam up a bit.  Peel off all the skin, then slice and dice.  Voilá. Your own chilies.

Trivia for the dinner table:  The spelling “Chili” refers to any member of the Capsicum family, many of which are used in cooking.  This can also be used to reference the dish which football fans love during the fall.  It can also be spelled as “Chile” or “Chilli”.  The “correct” spelling is debatable.  However, the country of Chile would like to insist everybody spell their name as is.  I have seen this embarrassment in grocery stores and wine shops in which they spell the country of Chile, “Chili”.  

Hot Sauced Brussel Sprouts

1 lb Brussel Sprouts
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
Salt/Pepper
1/2 cup your favorite hot sauce
1 tablespoon Oregano
1 tablespoon butter

Clean, slice of the stems, and halve the brussel sprouts then toss them with the olive oil.  Roast those bad boys at around 350 for 15-20 minutes until the edges get brown.  Meanwhile heat up the butter to melting point and mix it with the hot sauce and oregano.  Once the sprouts are done roasting, toss them in the hot sauce mixture.  Enjoy the ensuing mouth-gasm.

Grilled ears of corn

4 ears of corn
Soak. Pat dry. Grill.

Soak whole ears of corn for 20 minutes in water.  Pop on a flaming hot grill.  Rotate after you see grill marks on the bottom. Take them off when grill marks are on the other side.  10 minutes-ish to cook.

Wild Rice with cranberries

1 cup Wild rice
½ cup Cranberries
3 cups Chicken broth
1 Tablespoon sugar
½ cup chopped Pecans
2 tbsps Butter
Salt to taste

Put the rice, broth and butter in a pot and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce the heat to low and let cook for 20 minutes.  Add the cranberries, sugar, and pecans and some salt if needed.  Stir. Cover again and cook for another 30 minutes or until the rice is fluffy and you don’t see liquid bubbling around.

Pickled Okra and Jalapeños (Make at least a week in advance)

1/2 pound Okra or enough to fit into a big mason jar
1 Jalapeño, sliced
1 tablespoon Dill
2 teaspoons Juniper berries
1 teaspoon Fennel seeds
Dash of Cayenne if desired
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons Sugar
1/2 cup Vinegar
1 cup Water

Bring the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil. Meanwhile stuff your your okra and jalapeno slices into the mason jar. Add in the dill, juniper berries, fennel seeds, and cayenne. Once the liquids are boiling, take them off the heat and pour into the mason jar until the dry ingredients are covered. Seal the mason jar closed and refrigerate for at least a week.

Pecan Pie

It’s a secret southern mother recipe. Sorry.

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Are you one of these guys? No? Then you can't sing Auld Lang Syne while drunk no matter what you say.

Are you one of these guys? No? Then you can’t sing Auld Lang Syne while drunk no matter what you say.

Alright,  here it is; the only sparkling wine advice you’ll need for New Year’s Eve. It’s all about the science of bubbles!!!  Science Friday, one of my favorite podcasts had chemist Richard Zare on to discuss the persnickety peculiarities of bubbly beverages.  Despite the overly-liberal use of the brand name “Champagne” (Remember all Champagnes are sparkling white wines, but not all sparkling white wines are Champagne.) this was a fantastic episode with numerous tidbits that you can use to tantalize your NYE cohorts.  Take special note of Ira’s suggestion of a pickup line.

Oh, and what sparkling wine should you get this year?  Apparently, sparkling red wines are trendy right now (Gamay, Pinot Noir, and blends mostly).  So there you have it.  I just knew something trendy.

Enjoy this and have a wonderful end to your 2012: The year the world didn’t end. Again.

SciFri: Get the Most Bang From Your Bubbly

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-Norman Rockwell

Every year there are countless recommendations given out as to what wine you should be pairing with your Thanksgiving meal. These recommendations are always made with the utmost confidence that this exact wine will be the perfect match to whatever meal you have and no other wine would do. Everyone eats the exact same thing at Thanksgiving, right? The turkey, the gravy, the cranberry sauce, the stuffing; yours will taste the same as your neighbors, right? Except the pumpkin pie! Your mother makes the best pumpkin pie and everyone else’s tastes exactly the same, which is to say…not as good.  You know the scenario:

 You write down the the recommendations you found in the magazine, on-line, on the radio or on TV, while wondering if you’re spelling it right and whether that word is the producer, the type of wine or where it’s from.  Such joy you have knowing you will be bringing the perfect wines for Thanksgiving! The hunt is on! But once you get to the liquor store, the hunt proves fruitless. The store doesn’t carry those wines (assuming you wrote down the correct thing to begin with) because you live in such a small town that they don’t carry every wine in existence. Fooled again, world of wine!  You got me!  What to do? Panic? You start reaching for the boxed wine….

The idea that there are one or two wines that are a “superior” match to everyone’s Thanksgiving dinner is quite frankly ridiculous.  The problem with specific wine recommendations is that they only work for specific meals.  The specific interactions you get between the wine and food with the environment you’re in comprise the experience.  Thus, the whole point of my musings on this web log.  You have to keep in mind though that a good experience is comprised of a range of factors.  Can you have a good day when it’s raining? Yes.  Can you have a good day when it’s 67 degrees instead of 65? Yes.  Can you have a great Thanksgiving meal with a wide range of wines? Yes.

So instead of worrying yourself over whether or not you’ll be able to find the specific wines that were recommended to you, let’s give you a variety of options, shall we?  Just remember to look for the bottles that have a specific region listed on them.  First, let’s think of the flavor components of traditional Thanksgiving meals: savory, herbs, spices of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves, creamy, buttery, jams, tart cranberries, the gamey-ness of the foul.  Now what wines can work well with that?

Whites:

  • Pinot Grigio
  • Chardonnay
  • Viognier
  • Tokaji
  • or some Bubbly!
I generally lean towards the medium to heavier bodied whites so they don’t get lost in all the heavy foods.  A little acid is nice and can provide some zip through the heaviness if you want to lighten it up.  The idea is to match up wines with more stone fruit components (pears, apples, apricots, etc.) which generally happen in cooler climates than ones that have more tropical flavors (mango, pineapple, kiwi) that generally happen in warmer climates.  So could you get a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley?  Yes, but I’d go with that more specifically if I were making a more herbaceous meal with lemon tones.  If you like your buttery chardonnay, it’ll go great with those buttery biscuits and mashed potatoes.  If you generally like buttery chardonnays, but feel like they are at the top of your butteriness threshold, go with a viognier.

Reds:

  • First pickings from the newly released Beaujolais Nouveaus (Gamay)
  • Grenache or  Grenache/Syrah blends
  • Pinot Noir
  • Zinfandel
  • Cabernet Franc

With the reds, the idea is not to get too far into the heavy body realm or too far into the big tannin realm.  The amounts of vinegar and salt in most Thanksgiving meals can typically match the bitterness in the tannins of the above varietals and blends.  The idea with the reds is to match up the red-fruit-jammy and herbaceous flavors while keeping an eye on the tannins.  For some, lots of tannins aren’t a big deal and they kind of like it.  But if you’re having a large number of people over, there are high chances that not everyone is like this.  So if you do want to try a more tannic red, just make sure those who don’t enjoy that sort of thing have a chance to get more vinegar, citric acid or salt in their mouths before they take a quaff.  If your fruits are swaying more to the darker end (blackberries, plums) then you can switch over to the medium-bodied dark fruit wines like Merlot, Syrah, Monastrell, etc.

Just remember, if you really like a couple wines, chances are that those can work for the “perfect” Thanksgiving meal.  You might have to make some small adjustments to your menu, but everything should work out fine.  Those of us who enjoy wine have an expectation bar at some level and as long as it meets that or surpasses it, we’re good.  We don’t fret over prefect pairings, especially if we aren’t doing the cooking or bringing the wine.  If you do have someone who you know has the highest expectation bar, go ahead and tell them to bring the wine.

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I know it’s odd that I’m actually posting a holiday related item on the holiday itself since I never do that, but do yourself a favor and go pick up this wine and make some cookies tonight!

Rating: 5/5

Orange-Cardamom sugar cookies!

Wine: Domaine Hubert Clavelin “Brut-Comté” Cremant du Jura NV

Notes:

This is about as close to Champagne as you can get without actually getting Champagne.  Names or “brands” in wine are something I’m kind of a stickler for.  So Champagne only comes from Champagne, France and is made in the traditional method.  Champagne is a white-sparkling wine.  Not all white-sparkling wines are Champagne.  Got it?  Calling all white-sparkling wines Champagne is like calling all sports cars Ferraris. [Stepping off soap box now.]  This wine comes from Côte du Jura (not in Champagne) and is an excellent value.  Champagne can get quite expensive and this ran about $20.  Pairing this with orange-cardamom cookies was a fantastic idea even though it would be just fine alone or with a number of other things.  I’m a bit of a cookie monger (not to be confused with monster), so one could say a way to my heart is through cookies.  I’m even eating one right now.  How did that touch of pink get in the frosting you might ask?  Food coloring? No! I found a 3 year old box of wild strawberry JELL-O hidden in a cabinet and added a dash of that.  Who knew?  This is how I contribute to other people’s projects.

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Potato Latkes and Sarao

Rating: 4/5

Potato Latkes with applesauce and sour cream as toppings.  Sticking to the basics here!

Wine: Gran Sarao Cava Brut NV

Notes:
So this is a bit late if you think of this as a strictly holiday meal.  I grew up eating Latkes throughout the year though.  However, the Latkes I grew up with were nothing more than grated potato and minced onion smashed together.  In this version I added both mashed and grated potato with the onions and some matzo meal to boot.  This adds a bit of heaviness that I didn’t previously have.  And why not pair some Latkes with some Cava? Apple to play with the applesauce, yeast to play with the matzo and potato. Some dry bubbles to take some of the oil away.  This was a pretty good pairing!  However, I could have preferred a bit more acidity in the wine to cut through some of the heaviness of the Latkes.

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