In her book, The Bubbly Bar, Maria C. Hunt shared a vast assortment of champagne and sparkling wine cocktail recipes. I just bought the book; I did not have time to yet to try her recipes. With the wedding season, I think that many of you would like options to serve a bubbly concoctions.
One section of her book that I am sure you will not want to miss for entertaining this summer is the dessert corner. She proposed seven refreshing desserts make with Champagne or sparkling wines. A Lemon Ice transforms lemon sorbet into an elegant, grown-up dessert by adding Prosecco, vodka and a mint leaf to garnish. Otherwise, the Grapefruit Vanilla Granita made with brut rosé sparkling wine sounds divine to end a Sunday brunch.
If you are not familiar with Champagne and sparkling wines, Maria wrote an effective guide at the end of her book. To give you an idea of the type of cocktail recipes you will on her book, I scoured the Web and found the recipe of her Naughty Negroni on Canadian House and Home. The recipe of her Pure Passion drink recipe is published on the Amazon.com
About the Naughty Negroni Drink Recipe
As you can guess from the name, it is a twist on the classic Negroni. Although at first glance, I thought that is was similar to a Negroni Sbagliato that I introduced last year. But after checking, it’s quite different. A Naughty Negroni is made with 4 measures of Moscato d’Asti Sparkling Wine, a top-quality sparkling wine from the Piedmont region. Moscato d’Asti is superior and less sweet than Asti or Asti Spumante but make no mistakes, Moscato d’Asti is a sweet wine. She also keeps a half measure of gin from the classic Negroni recipe. A Negroni Sbagliato simply replaces the measure of gin by a measure of a Prosecco Brut (dry).
If you do not recall, the classic Negroni is one measure of gin, one measure of Campari, one measure of sweet vermouth (red vermouth) served with an orange slice. I prefer the tall Negroni where you pour some soda water over your Negroni. I usually will ask for a chaser of soda water because it is hard enough for most restaurants to serve a decent Negroni. The idea to try it with sparkling wine is appealing.
Another proof that Halloween is influencing the market at all levels is the wine business. Really, one key difference between the wineries in the United States and the wine makers in Europe is that the American wine makers explore other avenues than the wine connoisseur language. Let’s face it, when I host a party I am looking for a wine in the $13 to $20 price range to serve my guests. I go for a crowd pleasing wine in red and in white.
Going back to Halloween, vampires are in. There are many TV series and movies on vampires. In fact, we almost selected True Blood as the theme for my husband birthday party (more on that, later). It is sad that at the time, I did not know that I could have ordered a True Blood wine from Vampire Vineyards. Although $30 is too much to serve at a 35-guest party, I might have bought 2 or 3 bottles as a display.
Vampire Vineyards produces several wines with names that scream Halloween. You can choose between Vampire, Chateau du Vampire (Vampire Castle) and Dracula. The advantages with these is that you do not have to made your own wine label. Hopefully for us, that line ranges from $9.99 to $19.99.
For more ideas, check out The Kitchn. They dug more spooky labels and scary names wines for us.
You now get a Wine section on Jamie Oliver. The Web site of Jamie Oliver is just getting bigger. Now you can get food and wine pairing and advices on serving wines. Since no good meal can be fully enjoy without a good glass of wine, it seems like a natural collaboration.
Naked Wines is a UK wine retailer that made social network at the heart of their business. They favor small independent producers. To help promote these often unknown brands, Naked Wines built a community of wine lovers around their online store. In fact, when you enter Naked Wines, it does not feel like an ecommerce site.
At first glance, both brands are keen on promoting independent growers. For that, it seems like a good mix. Plus, the Naked Chef / Naked Wines analogy adds a twist. Here a video where Jamie talked about their association.
Earlier today I told you about aluminum water bottles with cool prints. Now, I discovered a wine company that desires to make it easy for you to enjoy a glass of wine anywhere.
The Wine Bottle
Volute claims this is the 21st century way to drink wine. Their bottle is made of a sturdy aluminum with a special treatment to make it compatible with wine. The single serving format and the fact the recycled aluminum bottle is lighter and safer than glass bottle assure its portability. We would not need to transfer your wine into a SIGG aluminum water bottle when you wish to bring wine to a public festival or for a picnic on the beach.
The fact that the bottle cannot break makes it ideal for a pool party or a family BBQ reunion. It is simple for you to serve since no corkscrew or wineglasses are necessary.
About the Wine
Volute’s wine bottles are all made of Bordeau wine in California. The Volute Red Bordeaux is made from 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Volute White Bordeaux is made from 85% Sauvignon and 15% Sémillon. Volute Rosé Bordeaux is made from 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot.
I like the principle for a party. The next question is to hold a wine tasting to see if the wine is to your liking. It is a new product. Only the Volute’s wine is sold online but only ship to the state of California. A small number of retailers, mostly located in the San Francisco area, carry the brand.
+ Volute Wine Case with free shipping $25 for a case of 6, $49 for 12 bottles, $94 for 24 bottles
Now that the best Champagne houses built estates in the Napa Valley, we can enjoy the Champagne taste for less. My favorite is the Roederer Estate Brut, the first California sparkling wine produced by Champagne Louis Roederer.
Mumm Napa is a popular choice amongst Champagne lovers. Looking at the comments on Wine.com, it proves my point that Champagne and sparkling wines made using the methode champenoise pair well with almost every meal.
My most intriguing discovery is certainly a red sparkling wine. I never made a toast to a glass of sparkling Shiraz. The sparkling Shiraz by Seaview from Australia pairs well with a hearty dish. Other wine makers also make sparkling Shiraz. This is something to bring as a hostess gift to lovers of Shiraz.
Seaview Brut is a white sparkling wine made with the authentic methode champenoise. It is more my taste.
You can see that you do not have to break the bank to enjoy a divine bubbling toast. Happy New Year! I wish you health, joy and happiness for 2009.
+ A friend of mine asked me this week if I talk about wines on my blog. I enjoy a good bottle of wine but I am not a sommelier. Seeing the list of 15 wines under $15 by The Nest, convinces me to share 3 of my favorite wines in that price range. From Spain, I suggest the Crianza Red Rioja by Marques de Caceres. We discovered the Rapitala Nero d’Avola last year; my husband Jerome and I enjoy this everyday wine from Sicily. For a white wine that you pair nicely with a lemon grilled chicken, try Les Jamelles from the South of France.
Ever since my friend Nathalie brought a bottle of this delicious lemonade at a party to make mojitos, I am craving for more. This French lemonade tastes amazing. Her mojito was memorable too.
I felt sad last weekend since I failed to find any at the European and specialty shops in my neighborhood.
I invited a few friends tonight for an apero, the French word for a simple before-dinner drink served with something small to eat (see recipe at the end). I am thrilled that Nathalie bought me a bottle of Elixia Lemonade as a hostess gift.
As I started mentioning on my post about the Apple Sainte-Catherine store opening, the most cherish gifts fit the desires of the recipient. The Elixia Hand-crafted Lemonade is the best hostess gift I ever received because it was on my most wanted list.
About Elixia Hand-Crafted Lemonade
The oldest lemonade making company in France produced Elixia since 1856. In 2000, the sixth generation took the reins and introduced the new packaging. Great move!
The packaging blends a modern vibe with a traditional bottle style. The packaging makes the inside even more desirable. The bottle can be reused to serve homemade flavored water, ice tea or your own lemonade. The distinctive mechanical bottle stopper looks so adorable. The bottle cap plays a big part on the visual appeal.
Update: I read on The Gazette that Elixia is available at La Maison des Pâtes Fraîches located at 865 Rachel St. E., Montreal, QC – phone 514.527.5487. My friend buys her at the Farmer’s market in Lachine.
Aged Cheddar infused with 10 Years Port Wine – we used Perron or you can ripe your own a week in advance
1 fresh baguette, sliced at a 45-degree angle
Little bit of Olive oil
Make 3/8 inch slices of cheese on the longest side. Put the cheese between two bread slices. I forgot to mention to lightly brush the grill with some olive oil (my husband uses a paper towel). Heat the panini grill to a medium-high temperature before grilling. The Baguette Port Grilled Cheese is ready when you get nice grill marks.