Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bubbly and New Year’s, the tradition…. the dilemma!

(Originally Published December 2010)

New Year’s eve does not seem complete without something effervescent in a tall slender glass to raise when one says so long to the old year and welcomes in the new year. But what to pour and what food to pair with it can leave a hostess a bit frustrated.

There are plenty of misnomers that swirl around sparkling wine that add to that frustration, a few are: 

Champagne is the best all the rest are of a lesser quality… So untrue!! First, Champagne is sparkling wine. Second there are laws that specify that only wine from the Reims -Champagne region of France may be called Champagne. These laws were set forth in 1891 with the signing of the Treaty of Madrid and reaffirmed in the Treaty of Versailles after World War I. There is no question that there is quite a mystique associated with fine French Champagne, but there are fine sparkling wines produced all over the world.

Sparkling Wine will give you a headache…. Both true and false. If you drink too much of any alcohol it will give you a headache. This reference is aimed at the Charmat method or bulk produced “bargain” sparkling wines, where often extra sugar is added to mask other less desirable tastes. The two best tips is look for Methode Champenoise or Methode Traditionnelle (which is in the bottle fermentation) on the bottle and drink in moderation (bubbly seems to go down faster than any other wine.)

Sparkling Wine is only for special occasions or dessert… Nope, it should be consider for pairings just as you would wine. As for desserts many are too sweet to pair with a Brut sparkling wine (the most common type of sparkling wine) a Demi-sec sparkling wine maybe better suited for dessert

This last myth, combined with the time of the year and that I just adore bubbles, became the inspiration for article. So perplex hosts and hostesses take a deep breath and relax as I prepare to show how Sparkling Wine can pair with two very different dishes for two very different meals: An appetizer and breakfast…Just in time for New Year’s Eve Celebrations and the morning after.

The sparkling wine selected is Thibaut-Jannison’s Virginia Fizz made from 100% Chardonnay in the traditional method (Methode Traditionnelle).Virginia Fizz along with another wonderful sparkling wine, Blanc de Chardonnay, come form a partnership between Claude Thibaut and Manuel Jannison. Yes, that would be the same Manuel Jannison that is the head of the world renown Champagne house Jannison et Fils in village of Verzenay (France).

Claude Thibaut, a member of a four-generation champagne making family, has spent the majority of his career outside the Champagne region of France making fine sparkling wine for wineries in Australia, California and Virginia before launching his own endeavor nearly 5 years ago. Mr. Thibaut is regarded as one of the best if not the best sparkling wine maker working on the East Coast, and some say the entire US. Claude Thibaut and Manuel Jannison quickly moved into the elite of East Coast winemakers for not only there excellent sparkling wine but also when the Obama’s selected the Blanc de Chardonnay to be poured at their first State Dinner (yes, that one with the gate crashers.)

1)     Appetizer: Baked Brie with Raspberry Preserves
2)     Breakfast: Bacon and Cheese Frittata with fruit

Virgina Fizz is an effervescent creamant styled sparkling wine. It has a creamy texture that is soft and full.  Yeasty and green apples are the scents detected in the aroma. At 1.5% residual sugar, Virginia Fizz is classified as a Brut (to be classified a Brut the wine must have less than 3 grams sugar per liter). The creaminess of the Brie complemented the smooth texture of the Virginia Fizz and the Raspberry preserves, with just a touch of sweetness, made the apple and peach notes of the sparkling wine pop. This was simply a delightful combination and with each sip the tiny bubbles of the Fizz held up to the heaviness of the appetizer.

Breakfast… especially after a night of celebrating is not what a weary host or hostesses wants to tackle. A frittata is a simple and fast way to provide a breakfast that will dazzle your guests and make them think you were up at the crack of dawn to prepare the meal.This bacon, cheddar (sharp) cheese and green onion frittata paired with fresh fruit is a beautiful and yummy way to greet the morning.  Pair with it the Virginia Fizz you have a very special morning meal.

This was a heavenly pairing. I don’t level that compliment often and to be honest I surprised even myself. The Virginia Fizz pulled out the savoriness of the dish while building on the creaminess of the frittata. One may be tempted to make a Mimosa to pair with the frittata, if you did you would be missing out on an incredible pairing of the Virginia Fizz (by itself) with the frittata. The texture and the flavors of the frittata are truly enhanced by the Virginia Fizz and almost dance in your mouth. This would be missed, as the texture of the Virginia Fizz would change if orange juice were added.

So as this year draws to a close the following quote comes to mind.
“Let our New Year’s resolution be this: that we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word” Goran Persson