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Harvest Ridge Winery Mastering Chambourcin

The newest winery in Delaware is showing that they can craft outstanding wines that will cause wine enthusiasts to ponder, “This was grown in Delaware.” One of the stars of the portfolio are wines made with Chambourcin. The grape is popular along the central and northeast coast onto Ontario and Quebec. This French hybrid is on the decline in France. According to the book, Wine Grapes in the 1970s there were 8,000 acres of Chambourcin planted in France. Although the average has declined in France, eastern United States and Canada winemakers are embracing this grape that tolerates the humidity in the east.

030315aWe had an opportunity to taste some of the Chambourcin wines in tanks and barrels at Harvest Ridge Winery in Marydel, Delaware. The winery is unique in that its vineyards cross the border and are in Maryland and Delaware. The Chambourcins, although not bottled yet, are wonderful. Our first tasting was an unoaked blend of Chambourcin 60%, Landot Noir 20% and Noiret 20%. Landot Noir is also a French hybrid variety while the Noiret is an American hybrid varietal grape. The color grabbed my attention first. The wine was an opaque dark ruby to purple color with a light ruby-pink rim. The wine offered fruit including raspberries and a unique aroma and taste that reminded me of cutting and sanding cherry wood. Our second Chambourcin was made with 100% Chambourcin and was lightly oaked with oak chips in a stainless steel tank. It too had the ruby to purple color. The wine offered raspberry notes with hints of leather. Both of the wines tasted were 2014 vintage.

Our third wine was a 2013 Chambourcin. This 100% Chambourcin is aging in new Pennsylvania oak barrels. It was a very dark ruby to purple color. The wine reminded me of dark fruits including cassis, spices and tobacco. It had tannins and a long aftertaste. This Chambourcin will certainly pair well with many foods. For a treat we tasted a fortified Chambourcin. The grapes were chaptalized to raise the sugar level and potential alcohol to 18%. A yeast strain was used that can tolerate higher alcohols. The 18% alcohol fortified wine had raspberries and chocolate on the aroma and taste. It could be your dessert.

Kathy and I tasted the wines with owner Chuck Nunan and winemaker Milan Madjan. Chuck and Milan wanted us to taste their Meritage blend of Malbec, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. They have hit another homer with this wine. The color was dark purple to black and offered black fruits and bold tannins.

Although the wines we tasted are not bottled yet, they are certainly predictive of quality and what the Delaware/Maryland terroir has to offer at its best. Harvest Ridge Winery is a wonderful winery to visit. Plan to spend some time at their wonderful facility in Marydel.

Cheers,
Terry

10th Annual Tour de Tanks

The Vineyard at Hershey

The Vineyard at Hershey participating in Tour de Tanks

March is here and so is the 10th Annual Tour de Tanks that the Mason-Dixon Wine Trail offers each year.

Tour de Tanks takes place each weekend from March 7 to March 29. This year 17 wineries, a cidery and two distilleries are participating.

Visit each participating member and enjoy tank and barrel tastings. The $25 fee includes a souvenir wine glass, samples of food and covers all the weekends in March. Participating locations are offering a 10% discount on spirit and wine sales. Visitors can find collectible wine buttons. Discounted tickets are available for designated drivers. Tickets are available at the participating locations.

Below is a list of places participating in this year’s Tour de Tanks.

Maryland

  • Boordy Vineyards
  • DeJon Vineyards
  • Fiore Winery
  • Harford Vineyard & Winery
  • Royal Rabbit Vineyards

 Pennsylvania

  • Allegro Winery
  • Four Springs Winery
  • Hauser Estate Winery
  • High Rock Winery
  • Logan’s View Winery
  • Moon Dancer Vineyards & Winery
  • Mount Hope Winery
  • Naylor Wine Cellars
  • Old Republic Distillery
  • Reid’s Orchard & Winery
  • Tamanend Winery
  • The Vineyard at Grandview
  • The Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey
  • Thistle Finch Distilling
  • Wyndridge Farm (cidery)

We have traveled to and written about many of these wineries. Check out our articles and photos on the Wine Trail Traveler website – Maryland articles, Pennsylvania articles.

Each year the Mason-Dixon Wine Trail also has a fall event – Wine Just Off the Vine. Check the Mason-Dixon Wine Trail website for additional information.

Cheers,
Kathy

 

 

 

Local Winery Sponsors Food Truck Competition for Charity

Harvest Ridge Winery, Marydel, Delaware

Harvest Ridge Winery

Can you imagine a Food Truck Competition? That is exactly what Harvest Ridge Winery in Marydel, Delaware is planning.

Food trucks have become a favorite of people across the country. Some wineries will have food trucks set up outside of their tasting rooms. But Harvest Ridge Winery has taken the concept to a whole new level. In addition to using the food truck event to raise money for a local veterans’  group, the winery is hosting a competition among the 15 food trucks taking part in the event. Which food truck will receive the title BEST FOOD TRUCK?

On April 17 and April 18, Harvest Ridge will be hosting a special event  that will support a Disabled American Veterans local chapter.  The Friday, April 17 time is 5 to 8pm and Saturday April 18 is 12Noon to 5pm. The entrance fee for the Food Truck Competition is $10.

Chuck and Chris Nunan are the creative and energetic owners of the facility. They focus on helping two types of charities. One is in support of veterans who do so much for our country. Chuck and Chris also support charities that help children in need.

Watch the winery for more events of all kinds.

Cheers!
Kathy

Grandes Pagos de España Wine Tasting in DC: A Success

Barcelona Wine Bar in Washington, DC

Barcelona Wine Bar in Washington, D.C.

This week we had the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C.’s Barcelona Wine Bar  & Restaurant which was the site of a wine tasting of special wines from Spain. The wine bar and restaurant focuses on Spanish tapas and Spanish wines.

The Barcelona Wine Bar in Washington was the perfect place for tasting Grandes Pagos de España wines, meeting owners and winemakers from Spain as well as meeting wine enthusiasts and sommeliers for restaurants.

We discovered the Barcelona Wine Bar on 14th street, NW about a half mile from the U Street Metro. It was a cold walk but upon entering the building it was delightfully warm.

The restaurant has an outdoor seating area with a modern style fireplace. At 11am it was fired up

Outside of Barcelona Wine Bar

Outside of Barcelona Wine Bar in D.C.

but having a difficult time. No one appeared to want to sit in the bone-shivering cold. A spring or fall day would be a great time to take advantage of the outdoor seating and fireplace.

The  Washington, D.C. restaurant is one-story with several sections that give the appearance of being cozy. To the right of the door is long bar with seating. Across from the bar  were several tables for two.

To the left of the entrance is the open kitchen where tapa fixings are created. On display were a variety of cheeses, meats and large loaves of bread.

A Feast for the Eyes

A Feast for the Eyes

Across from the kitchen, tables lined the walls for Spanish wine exhibitors to showcase their wines. In the center of this area was a long table which eventually was set with a prolific amount of food. There was absolutely no skimping on the food. The colors and flavors all melded into one gastronomical feast for the eyes and taste buds.

At the far end of the restaurant, a smaller room was available for special events. This was the location of the Wine Tasting Seminar prior to the wine tasting of 24 Spanish producers.

Note: Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant has eight locations on the East Coast. Connecticut is fortunate to have six locations, Washington, D.C. has one and another is in Atlanta, Georgia. The restaurant also offers catering services.

Grandes Pagos de España Walk-About at  the Barcelona Wine Bar

We found the Grandes Pagos de España wine tasting to be very well organized. The planning was well done and everything appeared to go off as planned. Kudos to everyone involved in the planning and for the intense interest that the Grandes Pagos de España winemakers showed.

The Grandes Pagos de España walk-about was scheduled for 12Noon to 3pm. Twenty-four members of the 30 member Grandes Pagos organization each presented two of their wines. Many of the wines were produced with some of the international grape varieties including: Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Syrah, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Viognier, Pinot Noir and Garnacha.

Grandes Pagos de Espana seminar

Grandes Pagos de Espana seminar

After attending the seminar where wines from different producers were tasted, I decided to look for wines made with lesser known grape varieties. Some of these varieties included Macabeo, Cariñena, Albariño, and Verdejo. Another category I was interested in were the wines produced with grapes from “old” vineyards. Those wine enthusiasts attending the walk-about were provided with a booklet that depicted each participating winery, and the two wines they were presenting.

My first stop was at the Gramona table with D.O. Cava. Since visiting the Barcelona area of Spain, I have developed a fondness for cavas produced with Xarel-lo and Macabeu. These cavas were well made. My favorite was the Cava Gramona III Lustrous 2007.

Another winery I was interested in was Secastilla that produces wine with grapes from 100-year-

Secastilla, a member of Grandes Pagos de España

Secastilla, a member of Grandes Pagos de España

old vines located in a lost valley. When mentioning the lost valley, the winery attendee smiled and said how beautiful the valley is. The description in our booklet said, “Secastilla: one hundred year old garnachas in a lost valley, Secastilla is a small treasure which was discovered at the end of the 20th century; a beautiful valley in the high area of Somontano, known as the Valle de Secastilla. Due to the specific terroir, climate and characteristics of the Secastilla valley, the estate belongs to the prestigious ‘Association of the Great Estate of Spain.” The recently discovered old vines were growing among almond and olive trees.

Grandes Pagos de España’s beginning goes back to the year 2000 when winemakers from Old and New Castile who produced single-estate wine decided to promote their wines. The organization was named Grandes Pagos de Castilla (Great Growths of Castile.) A few years later the organization was restructured and allowed the inclusion of specific wineries from across Spain.

Qualifications for membership in Grandes Pagos de España:

  • Wine must come from an exceptional single vineyard
  • Winery should have attained  a demonstrable fame with at least five years of recognized prestige in the marketplace
  • High marks in national and international competitions
  • Winery must undergo a meticulous inspection
  • Wines must surpass the quality requirements set at a vertical tasting

What does Pago mean?

Below is more information from the Grandes Pagos de España website.

“Pago is a Spanish word for a single vineyard whose characteristics set it apart from others in the same area.”

“In Spain the legal definition of Pago is: `Pago´ is a plot of land or rural location with its own mineral soil and microclimate properties which distinguish it from others in the area. Wines from such single vineyards will be made and bottled by those with ownership title of vineyards located in the plot, or under special circumstances, in wineries situated within close proximity to that location. All the grapes used to make this wine must come from the specific plot and this wine must be stored and, if oak aged, so treated separately from other wines in such premises. Pago single vineyard wines must be made employing an integral quality system which should be applied from grape production through to selling the product.”

We discovered that the very enjoyable wines of Spain were enhanced by the location of the wine tasting at the Barcelona Wine Bar. When choosing  Spanish wines to enjoy with friends or family, look for producers who belong to Grandes Pagos de España.

Cheers!
Kathy

 

 

Over 100 Guests Registered for Author Talk

Terry Sullivan uses a model of a qvevri to explain traditional Georgian winemaking.

Terry Sullivan uses a model of a qvevri to explain traditional Georgian winemaking.

Kathy and I were pleasantly surprised at the projected numbers of people that will attend our author talk on Saturday, February 28th from 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm at Harvest Ridge Winery in Marydel, Delaware. Our talk centers around our third book, Georgia, Sakartvelo: the Birthplace of Wine. Where and when grapes were cultivated and made into wine is a topic that many wine enthusiasts think about occasionally. This author talk will present the area south of the Greater Caucasus Mountains where data suggests that wine began. The current wine producing methods, appellation wines and traditional qvevri wines and qvevri making will also be discussed.

The author talk will be an enlightening, fun, educational event. Our experiences in having author talks for the past year were that people generally know that there is a country named Georgia, but they did not realize wine was started there. The other point of discovery is that wine has continuously been made there for 8,000 years. That number is staggering and predates much of human, recorded history on the planet. Another part of the talk is to introduce grape varieties that are unique to Georgia and the Caucasus area. These are not the international grapes that everyone is familiar.

Terry and Kathy will delve into the topic of varietal grapes during a short second presentation about the Wine Century Club. The free club is for anyone that has tasted 100 or more different wine grapes. We have seen wine enthusiasts that said that will be easy for them. They start out listing all the wines made with different grapes that they have had. Often their list stalls around 30. Those in the wine business often go further, but their lists often stop around 70 varietal grapes. That 100 goal is easier said than done. So why bother with becoming a member of the Wine Century Club? Becoming a member for some people is simply fun. It establishes a goal to try to achieve. As a result, you become motivated to try different wines that you may not have considered before. It doesn’t stop at 100 varieties. Terry already has achieved the Doppel level (200 varietal grapes) and is working on the Treble level (300 varietal grapes). Of course visiting Eastern European countries makes the task a bit easier.

Cheers,
Terry

Cortijo Los Aguilares Wines Stand Out at the Grandes Pagos de España Tasting

Bibi Garcia, winemaker at Cortijo Los Aguilares

Bibi Garcia, winemaker at Cortijo Los Aguilares

Yesterday, on a frigid, sub-freezing February day in Washington DC, we had the wonderful opportunity to taste wines from many of the members of Grandes Pagos de España. The wineries that belong to this group are from different wine regions of Spain. Their wines are made with grapes from single vineyards. To become members of Grandes Pagos de España the single vineyard wines must achieve critical acclaim for five years. In the 15 years of the organization, 30 wineries have become members.

We attended a seminar and then a walk-around tasting. Our seminar featured eight wines. One of the reds that made an impression was a Pinot Noir from Cortijo Los Aguilares. The winemaker, Bibi Garcia spoke about the wine. One of her first comments was that she inherited the Pinot Noir vineyard, she would not have planted this varietal grape, but since it was there, Bibi decided to make the best Pinot Noir possible. Fermentation takes place using natural yeasts in both stainless steel tanks and cement egg-shaped tanks. The wine was aged in two year old French oak barrels for eight months. The 2012 Pinot Noir had a translucent ruby color and offered floral and berry fruit aromas. I noticed red and black raspberries on the taste with a touch of minerality. The wine had noticeable tannins and was crisp. The wine keeps winning gold medals and therefore will continue to be crafted.

Petit Verdot from Cortijo Los Aguilares

Petit Verdot from Cortijo Los Aguilares

During the walk-around tasting we visited the Cortijo Los Aguilares table and spoke with Bibi. Since her childhood, Bibi was interested in chemistry. Now she can apply the science in the lab in the winery as well as the vineyard. Her passion has shifted a bit and now she is very involved in the vineyard. The vineyard consists of 18 hectares (44 acres) of grapes planted at an elevation of over 900 meters (2953 feet) above sea level. The vineyard benefits from weather influences from both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea most notably the large diurnal temperature swings from day and nighttime temperatures. These temperatures help the grapes to mature slowly and retain their acidity. The soil is a combination of clay and limestone. Grapes are hand harvested and placed in small containers then taken to the winery.

We tasted another wine made by Bibi. The 2012 Tadeo was produced with 100% Petit Verdot and aged for 16 months in French oak. The very dark ruby wine offered black fruit and spice notes. There were bold tannins and a long aftertaste. The wine was delicious. It has won various medals and considered by some to be the best Petit Verdot in Spain. The Petit Verdot grapes were harvested by hand and were the last of the red grapes harvested; there is no rush to harvest before the grapes are ready. In the winery gravity flow is used at all production stages to minimize the pumping of grapes. This gentle treatment of the grapes ensures quality.

Cortijo Los Aguilares is located near Ronda in the Andalucia region of Spain. Wine tourists can visit the winery by making an appointment.

Cheers
Terry

 

What You Need to Know About the International Wine Tourism Conference 2015

The International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC) is scheduled for April 8 and 9. The Conference will in held in the city of Reims known for champagne and historic sites. Only 46 tickets are left for the two-day conference in Reims, France. Register online soon.

Are you wondering what IWINETC is all about? On April 8 and 9, presentations will be presented by speakers from all over the world. The topics selected will be of great interest to tour providers, wineries and wine regions. Ticket holders can choose which topics they are interested in attending.

Some of the currently scheduled sessions include:

  • Sustainable Wine Tourism
  • Supporting & Promoting Wine Country Tourism in Ontario Canada
  • Wine & Food Travel is Most in Demand
  • Potential for Wine Tourism in India
  • Reims Economic & Tourist Capital of The Champagne
  • The Country Diversity-Hungary
  • Promoting Your Wine Tourism Business….
  • Integrated Interpretive Planning A Winner for South Australian Wine Tourism

Visit the IWINETC website to discover more sessions for 2015.

Potential for Exhibiters

Exhibitors are still being accepted until February 27. If you have a business related to some aspect of the culinary, wine and cultural tourism, then consider exhibiting at the IWINETC 2015. The exhibiter registration form is online.

When making your plans to attend IWINETC 2015 be sure to include several extra days to explore the Champagne region.

Cheers!
Kathy

Do You Know About Jam Jar Wines?

Jam Jar wines was an exhibitor at the Boston Wine Expo

Jam Jar wines was an exhibitor at the Boston Wine Expo

Have you heard of Jam Jar Wines? At the Boston Wine Expo I came across an exhibitor with Jam Jar  wines last weekend. I picked up recipes from the exhibitor who said I could share them on our Wine Trail Traveler website. It was still morning and with so many wines to choose from, I wasn’t ready to start tasting wine. Unfortunately I did not make it back to the Jam Jar’s table Saturday afternoon and unfortunately the event was canceled on Sunday.

Luckily some of the wine shops in our region have Jam Jar wines available. So one of these days I will give Jam Jar wine a try. Jam Jar Wines only produces two wines: a red and a white.

Below are the recipes using Jam Jar wines.

Cheers!
Kathy

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Ingredients

1 1/2 c sugar
1 1/4 c flour
3/4 c Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 c boiling water
5 ounces chocolate chips
2 sticks butter (room temperature)
4 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the cocoa powder and chocolate chips in a bowl and then add the boiling water, whisk until melted.
  3. In a separate bowl cream the butter and sugar together, and then beat in one egg at a time.
  4. Slowly mix in flour, baking powder and salt.
  5. Add the melted chocolate and pour in Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz.
  6. Mix to ensure batter is fully combined and pour it into muffin tins.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes.
  8. Let the cupcakes cool before frosting.

Red Velvet Cupcakes Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

8 ounces cream cheese (refrigerated)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
3 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Beat the cream cheese and butter together until fluffy.
  2. Add the powdered sugar and mix until incorporated and the frosting reaches desired consistency.
  3. Top cooled cupcakes with frosting and store in refrigerator.

Sweet Winter White

Ingredients

1 bottle Jam Jar Sweet White
1 1/2 c club soda
1 cup clear grapefruit flavored vodka
Lime juice to taste

Directions

Mix all ingredients together and pour over ice.
Garnish with a lime wheel.

 

Wine Tasting of South Africa Wines

South Africa Wine Tasting

South Africa Wine Tasting

This week we took a trip into the District of Columbia for a tasting of wines from South Africa. Like most of the East Coast we were bundled up in heavy coats, scarves and gloves. Surprisingly the sun was shining but the wind was cold. The location of the wine tasting was at the CORK Market and Tasting Room. On the first floor the shop sells wines from several countries. In addition, they have numerous varieties of cheese, sandwich fillings and chocolate. Everything is very nicely displayed. The  exposed old brick walls provide a good ambiance.We reached the event tasting area by stepping outside and entering the next door and following the steps up that led to a second floor room over the Cork Market shop.

The tables for the wine tasting were setup in a U-shape and each place setting had six glasses with printed materials about the South Africa wine industry. The materials included a colorful and detailed map of South Africa. The white wines were poured as we walked in.

Jim Clarke introduced himself. Jim is a sommelier and the sole US marketing person for South Africa wines. With a degree in classical music, Jim went to New York where he worked in a restaurant that had a wine program. A friend and sommelier talked to Jim about South Africa wines. Eventually Jim toured South Africa.

Jim began the presentation with a description of South Africa’s wine regions. The classic regions of South Africa have been producing wines for 350 years. Some vineyards were abandoned. These areas have been rediscovered and reestablished creating another region. South Africa also has new wine regions many of which were planted after 1992. A fourth region of South Africa is where bulk wines are produced.

As in other countries, South Africa has wine labeling requirements. Wines  designated as an appellation must contain 85% of the grape from that region. For the wines to be considered regional, 100% of the grapes must be from that region.

The first wine was made in South Africa in 1659. The Dutch thought wine would be good for their sailors as they believed it stopped scurvy. In the early 2000s  there was a resurgence of wine quality and wine marketing.

South Africa Wine Facts

  • The Elgin region is a new region that has a cool climate and is located near the ocean.
  • Sauvignon Blanc is the most popular white wine in South Africa.
  • Chenin Blanc plantings are 18-19% of the total vineyards.
  • 1959 was the first commercial Pinotage. Today Pinotage is the 4th most planted red grape at 6.9%.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely planted red grape.

 South Africa White Wines

Spioenkop Riesling Elgin 2013
Spioenkop is the winery name and Elgin is the region. The wine was a light yellow and offered notes of minerallity with a hint of petrol and some citrus notes. The crisp wine had 12% alcohol. The retail price is $20 plus.

Iona Sauvignon Blanc Elgin 2014
This wine was a light yellow. It offered lemon grass, mineral, lemon and grapefruit notes. The wine has 13% alcohol and sells for $16.

DeWetshof ‘Con Vallon’ Chardonnay Robertson  2014
This chardonnay was a light yellow with notes of minerals, apple and some citrus. The wine has 13.5% alcohol.  The wine retails in the mid $20’s.

Bellingham Chenin Blanc Coastal Region 2013
The Chenin Blanc with 14% alcohol was yellow with a medium body.  The wine offered notes of oak, vanilla and some tropical fruits. The wine sells for the mid $20 range.

Alheit Cartology Western Cape 2013
Cartology was a blend of 80% Chenin Blanc and 20% Semillon. The wine was 14% alcohol. This yellow wine offered mineral, apple and vanilla notes. The retail price is $40.

Seven Sisters ‘Odelia’ Bukettraube Western Cape
‘Odelia’ had 11.5% alcohol. The wine was yellow with mineral and floral notes. It was slightly sweet.

South Africa Red Wines

Simonsig Pinotage Stellenbosch
This  Pinotage was a dark ruby color. The wine offered notes of dark fruits and bacon with bold tannins.

Cederberg Cabernet Sauvignon Cederberg 2011
This Cabernet Sauvignon was 14% alcohol. The dark ruby wine offered notes of dark fruit including blackberries, cassis, a hint of leather, a hint of herbaceousness and tannins.

Ridgeback Journey Paarl 2012
This wine with 14% alcohol was a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. The ruby color wine had notes of black fruits including blackberries and cassis. The wine had bold tannins. The retail price is $15.

Ken Forrester ‘Renegade’ Stellenbosch 2011
Renegade was a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. The wine was a ruby color with a Sienna hue. This wine offered flora and black fruit notes including blackberries, plums, and black cherries. The wine had bold tannins. This wine sells for $35 to $40.

Sadie Family ‘Columella’ Swartland 2011
Columella had 14% alcohol. The dark ruby wine had dark fruit notes of black plums and black berries. The wine offered bold tannins. The retail price is $60 to $75.

If you haven’t tried South Africa wines yet, give them a try. Keep a sharp eye on the future of South African wines.

Cheers!
Kathy

 

A Second Look- Beyond Bubbles: The Essence of Champagne

 

tattinger3Whether in a champagne flute, a coupe, a tulip or white wine stemware, that delightful effervescent champagne offers much more than continuous strands of bubbles rising to the top and tickling your nose.

Champagne is so much more than a drink. As one looks into that effervescent glass of gold, one sees the history of France, the limestone caves, viticulture and winemaking. This delightfully, fizzy drink is also a very social drink. What is it that makes champagne so unique?

Champagne as a Placelighthouse1

The home of champagne is the Champagne region of France. While some wine drinkers refer to any sparkling wine as a champagne, only wines produced in the Champagne region and made with the grapes from the region are allowed to be labeled as champagne.

Champagne as History

Champagne is history in a glass. Where can one travel and enjoy an extended history while imbibing in a glass of bubbles? Champagne-Ardenne is a unique region of France with miles of subterranean, limestone caves. Visitors to some of the champagne houses have the opportunity to taste wine in those age-old caves. Do the aged caves provide an adequate spot for tasting wine? Some people may question whether champagne tastings should take place in caves so old that the accumulated smells of the caves interfere with the aroma and taste of the champagnes. Other visitors will take great delight with the “sense of place” while tasting champagnes in caves.

020615aChampagne as a Social Drink

While Champagne is often enjoyed at wedding receptions as a celebratory drink, it is also a wonderful way to celebrate the New Year with others. Champagne is a drink to be shared with others at celebrations or a quiet dinner with friends and family.

Champagne with Food

Champagne has the potential of being palate cleansing. However, it is much more than that. Champagne pairs well with many foods. It is appropriate for any meal.

Bubbles

Bubbles are a sign of happiness, frivolity, leisure and fun. Is it any wonder that bubbles are used in celebrating a bride and groom as they leave their wedding ceremony? What frequently follows is a toasting with champagne. A number of years ago, while at a restaurant in Detroit, a small group came in celebrating a wedding. Everyone stopped for a moment to applaud as the bride, all dressed in white, walked into the crowded room. Within minutes a member of our table asked the restaurant sommelier to send a bottle of champagne to the bridal table. It was a moment I will always remember. The bride and groom were stunned but obviously very pleased with the unexpected gift of champagne from a stranger. Our table benefited from someone giving a gift and it was obvious the bride and groom were happy.

Serving Champagne

Recently a debate has taken place about champagne stemware.  The oldest style but still available is a coupe. This glass is basically flat with a dip in it. Have you had champagne in a coupe? While in Barcelona, I went to a small food and wine bar that served a cava in a coupe. The glass was filled to the rim, making it difficult to drink without spilling. The coupe also makes it more difficult to see the fascinating bubbles.

The flute stemware is tall and thin offering an elegant style. The glass allows the user the opportunity to enjoy watching the numerous bubbles rise to the top. Some say that there is a noticeable difference between the aromas from the coupe and the flute. The tulip shed bowl is becoming more popular today as well as a white wine glass. Both allow for the streams of bubbles and help enhance the aromas.

Champagne is magical and should be enjoyed with friends and food anytime. Give me a well-made champagne anytime and I will enjoy it with friends and food.

Cheers!
Kathy

 


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