Bubbly wines for the holidays – Believe or not, the holidays are just around the corner. In eights weeks or so, christmas and the new year’s eve will be upon us. Office parties, celebrations with friends and loved ones and dinner parties are all in the menu.
If there is a so called proper time of the year to pop some bubbly, it’s definitely the month of December. While we crave for sparkling wine all the time, the spirit of the holidays want us to add a little sparkle to our lives. I can understand that shopping for bubbly could get complicated at times; if not Champagne, what does one buy?. Last time I checked, there were more than 600 choices at the LCBO. Many consumers aren’t aware of the varied choice of sparkling wine that exists in the world outside of Prosecco and Champagne, and many of it is delicious, and affordable, too.
In the recent tasting, I had the chance to taste more than 60 wines from Prosecco, Champagne, and many others in France, Spain, Italy. Here are my top 5:
Freixenet Elyssia Cava Chardonnay Macabeo Parellada Pinot Noir
Love Champagne but cannot afford the price tag? Cava is a great alternative to Champagne in that it’s made in the exact same process (méthode champenoise) with different grapes. Freixenet is one the largest and oldest companies in northeastern Spain. This cava is a blend of 40% Chardonnay, 30% Macabeo, 20% Parellada and 10% Pinot Noir. It has a very enticing bouquet bringing to mind chalk, white pepper, jasmine and white tea. Fragrant and elegant with a lovely mineral texture it will be perfect for your seafood starters such as oysters and shrimp cocktails.
Roederer Estate Brut Anderson Valley
For many wine consumers, american sparkling wine is an afterthought. This American sparkler is extremely reminiscent of its french cousin , with layered complex flavours and a fresh finish. It is a blend of 58% Chardonnay and 42 % Pinot Noir aged two years on its lees This wine burst with its exuberant roasted hazelnuts and macadamia nuts that carry over in the palate to complement the dry mango and papaya flavours. With a smoky lingering finale, it will be perfect with a beef tartare.
Santa Margherita Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore
Let’s admit it: Buying good quality Prosecco can be tricky, considering how much awful, sugar- jammed Prosecco is on the market. Santa Margherita is a lovely example of what quality, dry Prosecco should taste like, brimming with notes of white flowers, citrus and bartlett pear. Bright, juicy bubbles caress your palate in this affordable, festive Italian sparkler. Pairing nicely with seafood antipasto or charcuterie plates.
Paul Goerg Blanc de Blanc Premier Brut
Looking for true Champagne at a great price quality ratio? Paul Goerg is a great value for your buck, as well as one of the best-selling Champagnes in Quebec. This Champagne is made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes coming from two parcels which are designated “ premier cru “ by the producer which is a notch up from the brut status. Lovely nose bringing to mind white and orchard fruits with a creamy texture and aerial finish. Will match nicely with sushis and sashimis.
Champagne Lallier Grand Cru Rose
One of the best known rose Champagnes roses in the Quebec market, Lallier deliver the goods at a very affordable price. Cheaper than the other brands, it has a lovely fragrant nose reminiscent of strawberry and raspberry infused mint. Earthy and elegant will ravish you with its notes of field berries and zabaglione. A majority blend of 65% Pinot Noir with 35% Chardonnay coming from the Grands Crus of Aÿ, Verzenay, Oger and Cramant. Will be amazing with your roasted turkey or veal roasts
Grand Marnier for the holidays
Besides bubbly, the holidays is also the perfect time to whip up some new cocktails. I recently assisted in a Grand Marnier event where I learnt the many possibilities of drinks that you can do with this fabled liqueur of France.
The original liqueur was made in 1880 by Louis-Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle. Basically, it is a premium blend of fine cognacs and infused with oranges, the famous trademark of Grand Marnier The liqueur is aged on french oak which gives it roundness and subtlety.
Here are three cocktails that you can do with your Grand Marnier bottle
For your Christmas day brunch, upgrade your mimosa drink to perfection: by adding Grand Marnier topped off with bubbles. Instead of Cava or Prosecco, go for a French sparkler here. It doesn’t have to be Champagne (unless your brunch budget permits), but another French sparkler, like a Cremant de Limoux, for instance.
Method: In a Champagne flute, combine 1 ounce of Grand Marnier and 4 of sparkling wine. Garnish with a brandied cherry
For your holidays parties, spice things up with a “Cadillac Margarita”. This cocktail is the name for a traditional margarita with Grand Marnier on top. Use a premium tequila for this cocktail and you will have an amazing elegant and chic margarita that’s as refreshing as well.
Method: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine 2 ounces of tequila , 1 ounce of fresh lime juice and 1 ounce of Grand Marnier. Shake that all up, serve it into a cocktail glass with fresh ice and garnish with a few lime wheel.
For the new year’s eve, I will with a Cadillac Sidecar. A cocktail made with cognac, lemon and orange liqueur, is one of my favorites in my house during the holidays. And since Grand Marnier is made from cognac, it seems only reasonable to check it out. If i am in the mood, I replace the lemon by limoncello. This is a boozy cocktail, so better sip it slowly.
Method: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine 2 ounces of Grand Marnier,1 ounce of Limoncello Marnier, an ounce of fresh lemon juice, and 1/4 ounce of simple syrup. Shake all that up hard and serve it into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon peel, twisting it on top of the drink to spray its citrus oils over the surface.