Califonia Bountiful

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May/June 2018 California Bountiful magazine

Tips for pairing sparkling wine with food

Just as wine is now common at the dinner table, sparkling wine is being enjoyed with a variety of foods, not just appetizers. Shannon Latting of the Culinary Institute of America in Napa County and Cindy Della Monica of Cheese Central in Lodi share tips on what foods pair well with different sparkling wines.

The most common sparkling wines on the U.S. market tend to be high in acid and on the dry side—or what's known as brut, meaning unsweetened. Salt and acid go well together, Latting said, because "they calm each other down," as the acidity in the wine mellows out the salt. Think potato chips, nuts, french fries and salty cheeses. Acidic wines also help cut through rich, fatty foods such as crème brie, and are equally good with other acidic flavors, such as citrus fruit or salads with a vinaigrette dressing.

As someone who runs a cheese counter, Della Monica called sparkling wine a good fit with almost every kind of cheese. Dry sparklers are especially compatible with goat cheeses, she said. She's paired brut sparklers with puff pastries filled with fresh pears, pistachios and parmesan cheese. 

One of the most popular foods being served with sparkling wine these days is fried chicken, Latting said. The bubbles from the wine interact nicely with foods that have a crispy texture.

Della Monica said she's fond of pairing red-wine sparklers with heavier meals that feature steak, roast or beef tenderloins. For meals with fish, chicken or pork, she recommends using white or rosé blends. She has served sparkling rosé with roasted cranberries with balsamic vinegar and herbs poured over triple crème brie. With traditional blanc de blancs—sparklers made entirely from white grapes—she's paired Russian blini, which are tiny buckwheat pancakes, with smoked salmon and crème fraîche. She's also enjoyed it with smoked trout mousse.

If you're eating spicy foods with a bit of heat, a sweet sparkling wine "will tame the dragon and make it not as hot," Latting said. Pungent foods such as blue cheese also work well with sweeter-style sparklers.

Classic foods such as caviar and oysters remain favorites for drinking with the bubbly, Latting said.

To learn how sparkling wine is made, read "Rising to the top" in the May/June 2018 issue of California Bountiful. 

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