So many people think that sparkling wine should be reserved for a holiday or special occasion, but our Wine of the Week, Gloria Ferrer NV Carneros Brut Rosé ($29), is reason enough for a celebration.
You’ll notice a hint of roses in the aroma, along with a bit of citrus zest and cool river rock. On the palate, flavors evoke not-quite-ripe strawberries, chilled raspberries, more of those river rocks and a steely crispness that lingers until the next sip. Tiny bubbles tickle your nose as you lift the glass toward your lips and those same bubbles create a feeling of “Ahhh, isn’t this refreshing?,” as they stimulate your trigeminal nerves.
The sun coming up is reason enough to celebrate with this suave sparkler. This wine opens its arms wide and invitingly to an enormous array of foods. You can enjoy it with almost anything at all, from deviled eggs to creme brulée.
But certain foods and certain combinations make it soar. Almost any kind of melted cheese — cheese fondue, Mexico’s queso fundido, Sicily’s formaggio all’argentiera, Swiss raclette and even Welsh rarebit — are perfect companions.
Italy’s arancini — risotto balls, sometimes filled, sometimes not — is another great marriage.
You can even enjoy this wine with a grilled ribeye; to enhance the match, make sure the meat is rare, top it with a bit of butter and a spritz of lemon and serve it atop baby spinach leaves.
For today’s recipe, inspiration comes from a combination of beets, with their depth of sweetness, and radicchio, which is quite bitter. With both folded into a creamy risotto, layers of engagement between the wine and the risotto tease and please the palate.
Beet Risotto with Creme Fraiche & Grilled Radicchio
Serves 4 to 6
3-4 medium red beets, oven-roasted until very tender, peeled, and cooled
— Kosher salt
— Black pepper in a mill
— Olive oil
5 cups homemade duck or chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
1 1/2 cups Italian rice, preferably Vialone Nano or Carnaroli
3 small heads of radicchio, brown spots trimmed away
3 ounces soft cheese, such as Redwood Hill Farm Camillia, California teleme, or Italian taleggio
3 tablespoons creme fraiche
— Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
Cut the beets into very small dice (about 1/8 inch cubes), season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
Heat a grill pan over high heat and brush the radicchio with a bit of olive oil. When the grill pan is hot, add the radicchio and cook until it is beginning to wilt; turn and cook a few more minutes, until it is wilted through. Transfer to a clean work surface. When cool, cut into 1/4-inch wide crosswise slices and set aside.
Pour the stock into a saucepan, add 2 cups of water and set over high heat. When the stock just begins to boil, reduce the heat so that it barely simmers.
Put the butter and extra virgin olive oil into a medium saucepan (an All Clad saucier is ideal) set over medium heat and when the butter is melted, add the shallot and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Do not let the shallot burn.