Add some sparkle to your New Year
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 27, 2016
By Deirdre Parker Smith
SALISBURY — Ring out the old and ring in the new with sparkling wine and cocktails on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
You can be wonderfully festive without spending a huge amount, or you can spend the big bucks and indulge in a famous champagne such as Dom Perignon. Sparkling wines can bubble up the spirits just as well as that revered champagne.
Champagne, by law, has to come from the Champagne region of France. It is usually made with chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes.
Prosecco originates from the Veneto region of Italy, and is made with prosecco grapes, for a lighter, crisper flavor.
A good bottle of French champagne can cost $40 or more. A good bottle of prosecco can cost as little as $15. Prosecco has slightly less alcohol and a few less calories.
Prosecco has a more fruity, flowery taste than champagne. Champagne is a much drier wine. Champagne can be paired with shellfish, crispy fried appetizers and even potato chips — champagne loves salt.
Prosecco, because it is sweeter, is great with cured meats, fruits and even desserts.
Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine, made the same way as champagne and more similar to champagne in flavor. It is made with white grapes. It can be very dry to semisweet. It is also cheaper than champagne and a great alternative.
Stephanie Potter of Salisbury Wine Shop recommends the very affordable Bourrasque, a dry sparkling win that sells for just $12.79 as an alternative to champagne before, after or during a meal. Bourrasque means gust of wind, hinting at the refreshing quality of the wine.
If you want to spend less on your bubbly, try champagne cocktails, which have additions of various juices or liqueurs to add flavor and a festive look.
Most of these recipes involve things you have at home, or ingredients that are easy to find. And anything served in a tall, elegant champagne flute is going to look good.
1/2 cup champagne (or club soda for a virgin mimosa)
1/4 cup cranberry juice cocktail
2 tablespoons orange juice (or orange liqueur like Cointreau)
Pour cranberry juice cocktail, orange juice (or liqueur) into a fluted glass. Top with the champagne or sparkling wine, then gently the frozen cranberries. Garnish with an orange slice and a sprig of fresh thyme.
2 bottles pinot grigio
3/4 cup apple cider (sparkling)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cranberries (halved)
3/4 cup cranberries (whole)
1 granny smith apple (chopped)
3 rosemary sprigs
In a large pitcher, add fruit and wine and top with sparkling apple cider. Dip rosemary sprigs in water or an egg white beaten with a drop of water and dust with sugar for a garnish.
1 sugar cube
3/4 cup sparkling wine
1 sprig fresh mint
Place the sugar cube in a flute. Top with the sparkling wine and garnish with mint. For a nonalcoholic version use sparkling grape juice or cider.
3/4 cup sparkling wine (prosecco or cava)
1 tsp. raspberry sorbet
Pour the sparkling wine into a flute and gently add the sorbet.
1 Tbsp. Cointreau, Triple Sec or other orange liqueur
3/4 cup sparkling prosecco or cava
1 orange twist
Pour the orange liqueur in a flute, top with sparkling wine and garnish with orange twist.
2 cups ice cubes
1 cup prosecco
1 cup orange juice
1 cup cranberry juice
2 lemons, zested
Place the ice in a glass pitcher. Pour in the prosecco, orange juice and cranberry juice, stir. Pour the cocktail into a champagne flute and sprinkle with lemon zest before serving.
Appetizers that go with champagne or cava and champagne cocktails include cheese, of course, and other salty bites.
A simple appetizer to serve with champagne is a brie and cheese plate. Get a wheel of brie and let it sit out until softened. Find some fresh strawberries and a baguette from the store. Let people tear off the bread and spread the cheese. Easy.
Olives marinated with fresh herbs can be a great pairing. Just buy a jar of your favorite olives and add fresh chopped thyme and rosemary and lemon zest, with some olive oil. Let it sit a few hours before serving.
French fries are great with sparkling wine. Anything fried tastes good with bubbles, even fried chicken.
Other salty things like salami and various soft cheeses — brie, camembert, even creamy cheese like Havarti will taste good, too.
Don’t forget potato chips. You can make them fancy by serving a dip with them. If you like caviar, all you need is a bowl of sour cream topped with a can of caviar.
Buy a log or two of goat cheese, break off bits and roll into small-ish balls. Roll in chopped parsley, crumbled crisp bacon, potato chips, salted mixed nuts, chives, an herb blend of thyme, parsley and sage, whatever you like. Push a pretzel stick in the center and voila!
A sable is a savory cookie/cracker that goes well with sparkling wines and can also be topped with something. You can change the cheeses or add spices, such as a touch of cayenne or a little ground coriander.
Here is a basic recipe that uses Parmesan cheese, with is a delicious pairing with the sparkling wine.
1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups cold butter, diced
1/4 pound (4 ounces) Gruyere cheese, grated
1/4 pound (4 ounces) Parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 Tbsp. water
Place flour, butter and cheeses — reserving 2 Tbsp. of parmesan — in a food processor; pulse until the mixture forms a dough. Add cold water, 1 tsp. at a time, if necessary, to form a ball. Roll out on a floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut in decorative shapes. Place shapes about three-fourths of an inch apart on two parchment lined baking sheets. Refrigerate about 30 minutes, until firm.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush shapes with egg mixture and sprinkle on remaining Parmesan and a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake about 10 minutes, until golden.
Egg rolls pair well with champagne, and you can buy those and save on prep time. Stuffed mushroom, especially if the filling contains something salty like bacon or prosciutto, would pair well.
Here’s one quick and easy recipe from A Mingling of Tastes
Stuffed Mushroom with Arugula and Prosciutto
3 to 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 thin slices prosciutto, finely chopped
1 cup arugula leaves, thick stems removed, finely chopped
2 oz. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
24 button mushrooms
Creole seasoning or a blend of chili powder, cayenne and black pepper
Stem the mushrooms and save for a soup or stock. Brush caps with a damp paper towel to remove any soil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine first four ingredients. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Arrange the mushrooms on the baking sheet and give them a light coat of cooking spray, as well. Stuff each mushroom cap with the filling. Sprinkle creole seasoning over the tops. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until mushrooms are soft and cooked through.