Pairings: Champagne is perfect with cinnamon toast

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Our Wine of the Week, Korbel Natural Russian River Valley Champagne ($16), is a great wine to know about at this time of year. I’m not saying this because of the holidays or at least not the commercial ones.

I love sparkling wine when it gets dark early, when it’s cold outside, when I imagine what our ancestors felt as each day grew shorter and still shorter. Would the sun disappear entirely? No? Let’s pop a cork!

This quaffer is absolutely lovely, with delightful acidity. It is appealingly dry, with subtle flourishes of fruit, including Pippin apples, not-quite-ripe pears, tangy cherries, and red raspberries.

Its moderate price is appealing, too; you can enjoy it any time for any reason without feeling overly self-indulgent.

The wine opens its arms wide and welcomingly to a vast array of foods.

You can go fancy if you like, as the wine shines with everything from chilled Dungeness crab and caviar with buckwheat pancakes and creme fraiche to roasted marrow bones, steamed mussels and oyster bisque.

But it may be even better with casual fare, including such humble delights as toasted sourdough bread, egg salad, and French breakfast radishes swirled in good butter.

Potted liver, potato pancakes, beet risotto, parsnip fritters and scrambled eggs at midnight are all worthy companions.

This Saturday is Yule or, as most people call it these days, the winter solstice. It is an ideal time to enjoy this wine, alone or with a friend, with one of the world’s best comfort foods, cinnamon toast, alongside.

From nearly every vantage point, it’s been a tough year and this is just the sort of quiet indulgence we need to send 2019 on its way into history.

Cinnamon Toast

Makes 1 serving, easily doubled

3 tablespoons sugar

1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

2-3 slices of good sourdough bread

2-3 tablespoons best-quality butter, at room temperature

— Pinch of Kosher salt

Put the sugar into a small bowl or little glass jar, add the cinnamon and stir until evenly blended. Set aside.

Toast the bread in a toaster until it is deep golden brown but not burned. Immediately spread butter over each slice, using about a tablespoon per slice.

Spread the butter to the outer edges and let stand for a few seconds so all the butter melts.

Use a tablespoon to sprinkle cinnamon sugar slowly over the bread, entirely covering it with a thick layer.

Let stand a few seconds and then tip the toast over the bowl and shake off excess cinnamon sugar.

If there are spots of melted butter, repeat once or twice.

Sprinkle a few grains of kosher salt over the cinnamon sugar and enjoy immediately, with a glass or two of Champagne alongside.

Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date. Email her at

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