Champagne and Oysters for Valentines’ Day #winePW

Wine Pairing Weekend is a monthly collaborative event for wine/food bloggers started by David Crowley of Cooking Chat.  It’s a great way to find food and wine pairings that work; along with tips on how to create your own food and wine pairing magic. The theme for this month’s Valentine’s Day Wine Pairing Weekend is “It’s All About Romance“…though, I prefer to think of Valentine’s Day as a celebration of Love and Romance.

And I can’t think  of a better analogue for Love and Romance than Champagne and Oysters!

The thing about champagne,you say, unfoiling the cork, unwinding the wire restraint, is that is the ultimate associative object. Every time you open a bottle of champagne, it’s a celebration, so there’s no better way of starting a celebration than opening a bottle of champagne. Every time you sip it, you’re sipping from all those other celebrations. The joy accumulates over time.
― David LevithanThe Lover’s Dictionary

Champagne, of course, is a great way to celebrate anything, anytime. And while I also enjoy other sparkling wines they’re not Champagne, which is the ultimate beverage for celebrating your love!

Champagne represents the bubbly and overflowing love that I have for you!” – Unknown

I enjoy Valentine’s Day.  I look forward to it. Though admittedly, I enjoy it more now that I’m married than when I was single.

I only drink Champagne on two occasions, when I am in love and when I am not” – Coco Chanel

So whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or Singles Awareness Day, make it a celebration with Champagne!

On My Plate

As for the “romance”? It’s oysters for my wife and I !  We both love oysters!

Oysters and Champagne are staples on aphrodisiac inspired menus. That’s because oysters have enjoyed a reputation for being an aphrodisiac that dates back to at least ancient Greeks.

Giacomo Casanova, the 18th-century Venetian, reportedly ate dozens of oysters at a time to stir arousal before his legendary trysts. And some ancient cultures thought oysters resembled female genitalia, leading them to believe they imparted sexual prowess.

Consider the image of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, rising out of the sea from the half-shell.

Certainly, scientific proof directly linking consumption of oysters to sexual arousal remains suspect.

Perhaps the answer is psychological and is explained by the placebo effect (i.e. if one believes something is an aphrodisiac, they can get aroused thinking about it)

Hey, it’s Valentine’s Day…does it really matter? I say the ends justifies the means;-)

Oysters with Gigi's Mignonette
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
My wife's Champagne Mignonette
Ingredients
  • One dozen shucked oysters on the half shell
  • ¼ c Rice wine vinegar
  • 2 TBSP Champagne (or sparkling wine)
  • 1½ teaspoons finely chopped shallot
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Pinch of coarsely ground black pepper
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 TBSP finely chopped cilantro
  • Few splashes of Tabasco sauce
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine vinegar, Champagne, shallot, pepper, Tabasco sauce and sugar and let stand 30 minutes. Arrange the oysters on a bed of ice and serve with the mignonette.
Notes
The longer you keep the Mignonette Sauce – up to about a month – the more the flavors develop and the better it tastes

We picked up a dozen Fanny Bay Oysters at our local fish market for our Valentine’s Day starter. They have a sweet and salty character with a slight metallic taste,  and a pronounced cucumber finish.

While I generally prefer a squeeze of lemon and sometime a drop or two of Tabasco on my raw oyster, this easy to make Champagne mignonette that my wife created helps to balance out the salty brininess of the oysters while giving them a kiss of classy!

DSCN0821

 In My Glass

The Franck Bonville Champagne Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut Grand Cru is a grower Champagne that’s located in Avize. They farm about 50 acres of vines in the Grand Cru districts of Cramant, Avize, and Oger. It’s a Blanc de Blanc style made with 100% Chardonnay.  It has  very low dosage of only 2.5 g/L, and  is aged about 5 years on its lees.  My tasting notes follow:

Pale yellow-green color with abundant tiny bubbles and pretty white flower, green apple, brioche, citrus, chalk, and a hint of sweet spice aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied and very dry with a delicate mousse, and a soft, fresh lemony with a bit of lime acidity that’s intermingled with a bit a salinity and with golden apple, pear, and lemon rind flavors. Long finish. At retail of $40, it offers very good QPR for a Champagne with 5 years of aging on the lees! 

The Pairing

Champagne is the can’t-go-wrong choice with oysters. The bubbly effervescence scours the palate and prevents any fishy molecules from taking up permanent residence there, and their  prickly acidity makes you look forward to more food in general.  But not all Champagne (or other sparkling wines) are created equal .  I prefer a drier wine with oysters (think Muscadet, Chablis, or Pouilly Fuisse). The Champagne equivalent is a Brut Nature or Extra Brut which has very little added sugar and is very dry.  A drier wine shows purer flavors for me. Furthermore I prefer a Blanc de Blanc Champagne (100% Chardonnay)  because it tends to be light, and a tart with appley, citrusy character.  This was a fantastic pairing!

Be sure to check out what my fellow Wine Pairing Weekend # 9 bloggers have come up with for our “It’s All About Romance” theme! 

Join the #winePW conversation: Follow the #winePW conversation on Twitter throughout the weekend and beyond. If you’re reading this early enough, you can join us for a live Twitter chat on our theme “It’s All About Romance” on Saturday, February 14, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m Pacific Time.

You can also visit our group Pinterest board to pin some great pairing ideas for later! Stay tuned for the March Wine Pairing Weekend, which will be on Saturday, March 14, 2015

_________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Romantic Wines For Your Sweetheart

Happy Sweetest Day! For the uninitiated…”Sweetest Day, dates back to 1922.  It was originally when a man by the name of Herbert Birch Kingston wanted to bring cheer to local orphans, elderly, homebound people and others he felt may feel a little “forgotten” during other holidays“.  It’s the third Saturday of October each year.  It has evolved into being a holiday associated with romantic gestures such as cards, flowers, chocolate, dinner dates, and of course, romantic wines!

I think of it as sort of Valentine’s Day – without all the pressure than can come with V-Day.  Why wait to V-day  to celebrate your love?

Whether your go out or stay in, here’s your handy guide to romantic wines!

__________________________________________________________________

February is here and romance is in the air; be it contrived and commercial or spontaneous and genuine! One of the things I love most about wine is how memories of wine can take you back to a time, a place, a person, or all of the above.

Here are my suggestions for evocatively romantic wines. There’s something for everyone with suggestions for bubbly, white, red, and dessert wines.

Couple at sunset with wine

Image courtesy of winestopper.wordpress.com

 Bubbly

 1. Gosset “Grand Reserve” Brut Champagne

Champagne and romance go hand in hand. This is an effusive, complex and exotic Champagne made with the traditional mix of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, from two reserve vintages that contain a bit of Pinot Gris, Petit Meslier, and Arbanne, the latter two almost extinct grapes. It has stone fruit and brioche aromas with a long finish. While it’s great for toasting, it would also be a nice match for lighter fare like a salmon dinner.

2. 2008 Schramsberg Brut Rose

This sparkler from Napa Valley is a comely salmon color with a refined effervescence. It’s well balanced with aromas, and flavors of strawberries and cherries. This is a versatile sparkler that will add to the memories of that special home-cooked meal!

3. Rosa Regale

This is an off-dry slightly sweet sparkler from Brachetto D’Aqui (Piedmont) region of Italy. It appeals to the eye, and the palate with its gorgeous ruby color and aromas of roses and strawberries. It has a softer effervescence than typical sparkling wine. Not only will it shine as an aperitif, it could work throughout a meal including dessert, especially if that dessert is fruit-based like a raspberry tart, or chocolate dipped strawberries. I even enjoyed it with a chocolate truffle tart.

White

4. 2010 Merry Edwards Russian River Sauvignon Blanc

This is an opulent and stylish Sauvignon Blanc with enticing floral, melon, and stone-fruit aromas. In the mouth it’s rich, and well-balanced with stone-fruit, grapefruit, and citrus flavors. King Crab legs anyone?

5. 2009 Kistler Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay

This is a sublime full-bodied, but balanced Chardonnay that offers rich buttery-toasty brioche, stone fruit and subtle white flower aromas with peach and nectarine flavors, and a lingering finish.

6. Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica

This is an alluring Riesling named for Beethoven’s Third Symphony. The wine is a collaboration between two of the world’s great Riesling producers, the Dr. Loosen estate from the Old World (Germany), and Chateau Ste Michelle of Washington State, from the New World. Sommeliers love this wine, and you will too, especially when paired with spicy fare.

 Red

 7. 2007 O’Brien Estate Seduction

This Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot exudes romance. It’s complex, and refined, yet powerful with aromas redolent of ripe dark fruits like plums and black cherries along with spices and interesting mocha notes.

8. 2009 Walter Hansel “South Slope Vineyard” Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir as has been described as “the most romantic of wines, with so voluptuous a perfume, so sweet an edge, and so powerful a punch that, like falling in love, they make the blood run hot and the soul wax embarrassingly poetic.” Sounds like romance to me!

This is a voluptuous intense Pinot with aromatic black cherry, raspberry, and rose petal aromas. On the palate it’s creamy and well-balanced with juicy dark black cherry and raspberry flavors and a long finish.

9. 2009 Turley Mead Ranch Zinfandel

This is a cool climate Zinfandel produced with grapes from a high elevation site on Atlas Peak in Napa Valley. It’s hedonistically creamy with ripe plum, and blackberry flavors, and a lingering finish. Zinfandels this good are irresistible — give in to your desire!

 Dessert

 10. 2001 Hétszölö Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos

Tokaji is a legendary sweet wine produced in Hungary. How’s this for romance trivia? It’s believed that it was Tokaji that Hitler, and his bride Eva Braun consumed to celebrate their marriage in the bunker shortly before their deaths.

This is a decadent dessert wine. It’s a golden yellow color with vivid aromas of apricot and orange peel. On the palate, it’s viscous, and balanced with a harmonious streak of acidity, with intense apricot and orange flavors, a hint of minerality, and a long finish. Pair with caramelized desserts.

11. Rosenblum Cellars Desiree

This is a luscious blend of Zinfandel, Touriga Nacional, and Syrah fortified with Brandy, and infused with a bit of chocolate. It comes in a 375ml bottle and weighs in at 18% alcohol. The bottle has a lascivious red label, and of course, the name suggests desire. You’ll be enticed by the aromatic dark plum, and chocolate aromas, that flood your palate with sweet dark fruits and chocolate. Pair with that box of truffles, or drink by itself — if you dare.

12. Graham’s 20 Year Old Tawny Port

Port is always a sweet treat. This one is a dark orange color with a red hue and mildly nutty, caramel, roast coffee aromas that cut to cherry, and toffee flavors. Pair with milk chocolate, crème brulee, or blue cheese. Retails for around $50.

Looking to make it extra special? Get a bottle of Port from the vintage that marks an anniversary, birthday, or other special occasion! Look for top producers like Dow, Fonseca, Warre, Taylor and Graham’s.

I leave you with this French proverb… “In water one sees one’s own face; but in wine one beholds the heart of another.” Cheers and happy romancing!

This article was previously featured on 12 Most and is republished, by the author Martin Redmond