Sparkling Wines and Food Pairings for the New Year
The 2018 Wine Blogger’s Conference, held in Walla Walla Washington this year, featured a new treat this year – learning to pair foods with sparkling wines and was aptly names “Bubbles and Bites”. Gloria Ferrer Wines (gloriaferrer.com) hosted the seminar which included 4 sparkling wine and food pairing tastings. In many cases, the typical focus for food and wine pairings is strictly based on non-sparkling wines so taking this seminar gave me the opportunity to expand my horizons.
One tip for trying new fun parings is that many restaurants feature wine lists that may include recommended food pairings. If a pairing list isn’t readily available on the menu, ask the beverage or wine steward. They should be able to provide insight on fun and tasty food parings. While everyone’s pallet is different, using a few simple guidelines for pairing wines with notable levels of acidity, tannins and sweetness can enhance the dining experience. Adding a sparkling wine to an already good pairing elevates the whole experience. And, with the New Year quickly approaching, this information can make planning your menu easier, more in keeping with the celebration, and your guests will be thrilled to enjoy the benefits of your new knowledge.
The Bubbles and Bites seminar featured two prominent women in the world of wine: Tia Butts of Tia Butts PR and Sommelier Sarah Tracey. These knowledgeable ladies led us through 4 pairing focus areas. Their pairing strategies included: Acid needs Acid, Flavor Match, Contrast Pairing and Texture Match. The chefs at the Marcus Whitman Hotel created 4 generous bites to display the flavor bursts that can be achieved with the correct pairings.
First up: Acid meets Acid
Our first sparkling pairing was a Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut ($22) and Classic Bruschetta. The bruschetta was covered in fresh tomatoes bits , rich parmesan with a balsamic glaze which created an acidic food appetizer. The Sonoma Brut is a combination of hand harvested Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes that was fermented in stainless steel barrel for 1.5 years. The nose is floral with a hint of pear. It is in the palate that the strong backbone of the wine comes alive with tastes of citrus through lemon, apple and an acidity that matches that of the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar in the bruschetta. This crisp and clean pairing is an excellent way to get your guests’ taste buds activated for the remainder of a great holiday meal.
Second: Flavor Match
Gloria Ferrer provided the Blanc de Noirs ($22) sparkling wine for pairing with the Cougar Gold and Turkey pinwheel featuring strawberry preserve, boursin and arugula. The Blanc de Noirs is also a blend of Pinot Noir and a small amount Chardonnay that was hand harvested. This wine was aged en tirage (fermentable sugar and yeast were added to induce a second fermentation) for 1.5 years. The Pinot Noir juices were left in contact with the grape skins for 24 hours giving the sparkling wine a light rose color. The Blanc de Noirs shows a strawberry and cherry nose. The flavors feature strawberry and a rich cherry cola flavoring. The strawberry flavors in both the pinwheels and the wine complimented each other and provided a light and delightful pairing.
Third: Contrast Pairing
Our third dish was a new one for me; Ahi Poke with sunomono cucumbers, sriracha, seaweed salad and pickled ginger. The sparkling wine chosen for this paring was Gloria Ferrer’s Brut Rose ($29). Like the other sparkling wines, it too was aged en tirage. The Brut Rose featured a heavy blending of hand harvested Pinot Noir grapes with a smaller amount of Chardonnay. The Pinot Noir juice was left in contact with the skins for 36 hours giving it a beautiful rose color. The nose is strawberry with a hint of ginger and pear. The taste imparts a round mouth with a hint of cream to balance out the acidity from the fruit. The Ahi Poke appetizer contrasted the hint of spice and crispness of the Brut Rose. This contrast was a new one for me but it played well on the spice and creaminess of the fruit hint sparkling wine.
Final Treat: Texture Match
The last of the pairings was of Gloria Ferrer featured the 2010 Anniversary Cuvee sparkling wine paired with bacon wrapped scallops with a Meyer lemon aioli. The 2010 Anniversary Cuvee is one of my favorites and well worth the $45 price point. The chef at the Marcus Whitman created a beautiful bacon wrapped scallop with multiple textures combining bacon and scallops. The 2010 Anniversary Cuvee was fermented for 5 years with a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. The nose has hints of pear and vanilla. The palate is creamy with a taste of black cherry stone fruit, honey and vanilla. This is a round mouthful of sparkling wine that pairs very well with the full texture created by the bacon and scallop appetizers. This pairing works very well and could make a light meal of its own with the addition of a few crisp vegetables for nibbling.
The Bubbles and Bites seminar was one of my favorites in the entire WBC18. The sparkling wine selections, the wonderful ladies who led us through the pairings and the chef at the Marcus Whitman created an excellent and delicious learning experience.
Remember to drink what it is that makes you truly happy and always think positively!
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