Pairings: Buoyant bubbly for all seasons

  • 12/23/2009: D1:

    PC: Champagne illustration.

If you don't typically drink sparkling wines, or if you save them for special occasions, this is a great time to get into the habit of enjoying them more frequently. A good place to start is with our Wine of the Week, Gloria Ferrer Non-Vintage Blanc de Noirs ($22), a buoyant bubbly, perfect now but also welcome any time, 365 days a year.

In the glass, the first thing you notice is the wine's soft pink blush, like the palest peach or nectarine, with lively bubbles scurrying towards the surface. Allow yourself a moment to linger, sighing with pleasure. A glass of sparkling wine is a thing of special beauty.

As you bring the flute to your lips, bubbles may tickle and tease your nose, evoking a smile. With that first sip, you should feel yourself relax, as your shoulders soften and your thoughts turn from the troubles of the day to the pleasure in the glass.

Pinot noir contributes most of the wine's flavors, with suggestions of raspberries, Rainier cherries, strawberries and a bit of smoke. Bright acidity will have you thinking of citrus, lemon, perhaps, or maybe Ruby grapefruit, and there's a mysterious, ineffable quality, too, that pinot thing, here not unlike root beer, especially really good, ice-cold root beer.

All this is to say, in a way, that this is both a delicious and a playful quaffer. It will flatter almost any food, though it does have certain affinities. Crab Louis is sensational with this sparkler, as is chicken liver mousse, which leads us to foie gras, a compelling if illegal match. Quail, rubbed with a Chinese five-spice blend and grilled; slow-roasted pork; winter squash and coconut curry; and cheese fondue all soar with this wine alongside. This sparkler is even great with a grilled cheese sandwich, especially with a cheese that is nutty and well-aged, and when made on sturdy hearth bread.


For today's recipe, I've chosen a classic, Spaghetti Carbonara. Because the dish is so rich, you may want to begin with a simple appetizer — chilled cracked crab, for example — and end the meal with a big green salad. This blanc de noirs will take you all the way from your first bite to your last.

<strong>Spaghetti Carbonara</strong>

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