Mismatch intensity and flavors.
This tip is the most important takeaway for creating your own pairings. “The pairing rule of “like with like” rings true when pairing wine and cheese,” says Werlin. As a general rule wines over 14.5% ABV are more intense and taste better with more intensely flavored cheeses, while wines under 12% ABV are less intense and match nicely with more delicately flavored cheeses. She says, “in general, white wines pair best with lighter, milder cheeses. This allows the fresh, often fruity notes of the white wine to enhance the sweet creaminess of the cheese. Werlin suggests pairing most cheeses with white wines. An unoaked Chardonnay pairs well with an alpine->asiago or parmesan, and Sauvignon Blanc with cheddar or gouda.”
Play it safe:
Though it may seem complicated at first, once you learn a few tips and tricks, you’ll be a wine and cheese connoisseur in no time. According to Werlin, pairing wine and cheese is “all about finding new flavor combinations and having fun.” Cheese should take you on an adventure of taste and texture. Get out of your comfort zone by trying something unique like Roelli’s Red Rock, a bright orange Cheddar Blue combination. Bubbles are very forgiving, so a sparkling wine is always a good choice for cheese wildcards. Want another unique idea? Grab some bubbly and pair it with a blue cheese for an unexpected dessert pairing after dinner. The crisp carbonation of the sparkling wine will cut the creaminess of the bold, blue cheese.
So, here are a few of mine:
Champagne with any cheese except “smoked”
Cabernet with manchego
Dry riesling with brie
Chardonnay with havarti
Pinot noir with gouda
You must have some favorites too.
- Blending (or “Rosé d’assemblage”) when still red wine (in varying amounts between 5 and 20%) is added to the champagne at the blending stage. The still red wine must – of course – be from champagne grapes to qualify for champagne appellation. This means rosé champagne producers need to make still red wine too.
- In the maceration technique, at pressing the black grapes are left to macerate in a tank – with the grape juice in contact with the skins – until the juice is the desired colour. Usually this is for about 24-72 hours.
- In rosé de saignée, a small percentage of juice is bled off just-crushed red grapes. The portion which is bled off (hence the name saignée) then goes through secondary fermentation in the bottle. The rest is used to make still red wine.
Which is best, according to Bubble and Flute?
- Blending is the more commonly used technique. This is considered the easiest technique for a consistent result.
- Macerated rosé champagnes is considered to be a more complicated technique. Rosé champagnes made this way tend to be darker in colour and have stronger fruit flavours.
- Saignée generally produces the palest and most delicate rosés.
But if you are looking for a rosé champagne to try, here are a few (actually quite a few!) which I enjoy.
(These are all blended to the best of my knowledge and research unless otherwise stated. I always ask the Chef de Caves or house reps when I meet them about the Rosé technique and the grapes blends when I try their Rosés because I am so interested to try the different techniques).
Perrier Jouet Blason Rosé – 50% pinot noir, 25% meunier and 25% chardonnay with 12 to 15% blended red wine. Dosage – 10g/l I am pictured with a glass of Blason above. This is my good “go to” rosé champagne.
Ruinart NV Rosé – 55% pinot noir, 45% chardonnay – 19% of red is blended still wine. Dosage – 9g/l. Being Ruinart, the style is full of chardonnay. I find this lovely and crisp, almost tropical in a gentle, enjoyable way. Being a Queenslander (hot climate), this is brunch/lunch/Sunday session heaven! (Excellent but pricey)
Billecart NV Rosé – 40% chardonnay, 30% pinot meunier, and 30% pinot noir blended with 8% red wine – from my notes taken during house visit June 2015. (Pretty good)
Charles Heidsieck NV Rosé – 1/3 of each grape variety, 5-6% blended still red wine. A bit berry and a hint of spice, I wonder if I could pick this as a rosé in a blind tasting as it is very delicate.
Louis Roederer Rosé 2010 – These notes are for 2011 vintage but you really must try the 2010 first. 63% pinot Noir, 37% chardonnay… 22% of the wine vinified in oak casks, 13% malolactic fermentation. Louis Roederer actually combines two methods – maceration and blending. A little chardonnay juice poured into a pinot noir maceration and fermented together to achieve the perfect harmony. The unique technique, the inclusion of oak and the minimal MLF all contribute to a unique and divine champagne, true to the Roederer style which celebrates freshness in champagne. Dosage – 9g/l (Expensive)
Pol Roger 2006 Rosé – 60% pinot noir, 40% chardonnay with 15% still pinot noir. Pol Roger only makes a vintage Rosé and they do it deliciously. (Pretty good)
- Rosé accounts for about 8.5% of all champagne shipments
- Madame Clicquot, known as ‘La Grande Dame de la Champagne’ and a champagne pioneer created the first ever blend of rosé champagne.
- Bollinger introduced a non-vintage rosé for the first time ever in 2008.
You don’t need to spend this much money to enjoy some brut rose’ champagne. Or in my case, sparkling wine. Bubble and Flute espouses only champagne. I prefer not to discriminate! I will open a bottle tonight!
The proper terminology for port wine is Vinho do Porto, but commonly called Port. It is a fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern area of Portugal. Most of the time, it is a red, sweet wine served often as a dessert or after dinner wine by rather refined individuals. I knew nothing of port as a young drinker, other than Gallo had a cheap port that caused horrendous headaches. It comes as white, dry, and semi dry versions in not only Portugal, but here in the US, as well as Australia, Argentina, South Africa, Italy and Canada.
Only the product from Portugal can officially be called Port or Porto, under the European Union Protected Designation of Origin guidelines. But wines from elsewhere may be labeled port due to various complications. Port is produced solely from grapes produced in the Douro region of Portugal, north of Lisboa. The wine is fortified by the addition of a neutral grape spirit, called arguadente, to stop the fermentation process. The residual sugar in the wine allows it to ferment and boost the alcohol level. The fortified spirit is sometimes referred to as brandy, but does not resemble brandy in commercial products. Then it is aged in barrels, often in a cave, before being bottled.
The wine originally received its name from the seaport city of Porto, at the mouth of the Douro River. Most of the region’s Port is brought to this area before being shipped around the world. The Douro region is a protected appellation since 1756. It is the third oldest defined and protected wine region after Chianti and Tokaj. In fact, we had a trip planned to Porto a few years back, but cancelled due to a family illness.
The Douro River valley has a microclimate that not only supports grapes, but also almonds, and olives. The actual region is around Pinhao and Sao Joao de Pesqueira, the very center of Port production. Yet over a hundred varietals are sanctioned for Port production, although only five are widely cultivated. Touriga Nacional is commonly considered the most highly desired Port grape, but is difficult to grow and has a small yield. Touriga Francesa is the most widely planted grape. Did you know that white Ports are produced in the same way as red Ports, except they use white grapes.
It was the famous Quinto do Noval, planted back in 1925, that produces the most expensive vintage Ports. That said, Port is usually sweeter, richer and heavier than most red wines. The most common cheese served with Port is stilton. I prefer dark chocolate, even though I am not a chocoholic. Beyond this, there are two main ports, barrel aged, and bottled aged.
Among the barrel aged are the Tawny port, Colheita, and Garrefeira. The bottle aged ports are Ruby port, Reserve or vintage character port, Pink port, White port, Crust, and Late Bottled Vintage (LBV). The most prized is the Vintage Port, made entirely of grapes from a single, declared vintage year, accounting for only 2% of yearly production. Vintage ports are aged in barrels for a maximum of two and a half years before bottling. And then it sits in a bottle for another ten to thirty years before it is considered drinkable. Vintage Ports retain the dark red color and fresh fruit flavor. They become more complex with age, and taste magnificent decades after being bottled.
Mike and I both bought some Vintage Ports on our trip to Portugal. We were waiting until either one of us got a hole in one (he did), or one of us had a child graduate from college (I did). When we get a group of our friends together, we will open a real Vintage Port!
Best California ports:
1. Geyser Peak Winery, 2006 Henry’s Reserve Shiraz Vintage Port (Geyserville)
2. California Cellars, 2007 Petite Sirah Port (Isleton)
3. Bogle Vineyards, 2006 Petite Sirah Port (Clarksburg)
4. Heringer Estates, 2006 Petite Sirah Port (Clarksburg)
5. Pedroncelli Winery, Port Four Grapes Dry Creek Valley Estate 2004 (Geyserville)
6. Cinquain Cellars, 2007 Touriga and Tinto Cao (Paso Robles)
7. Rios-Lovell Estate Winery, 2006 Port (Livermore Valley)
8. Belo Wine Company, 2002 Port (Napa Valley)
9. St. Amant Winery, 2006 Vintage Port (Lodi)
10. Pessagno Winery, 2002 Hames Valley Port (Salinas)
Best World Wide Ports, Best Value:
1. Fonseca Porto 10 Year Old Tawny Port
2. Cockburn’s Twenty Year Old Tawny Port
3. Sandeman Porto Founder’s Reserve Port Blend
4. Dow’s Ten Year Old Tawny Port
5. Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve Porto
Mine is a 1997 Quinto do Noval, Mike’s is a 1963!!!! Both will be superb with or without chocolate.
Each vintage of this era was truly artisanal, made with old equipment, a lot of elbow grease, and unforeseen challenges.
“In the beginning, all our winery made was port. In 1975, the idea was to make Vintage Port (the “holy grail” of port making) from old Zinfandel vines in Amador County. Today, although we make more of the other types, (blends of different years, and late bottled wood ports), we take the vintage styles very seriously.” (Quote from Andrew Quady)
The official aging classifications used most often:
VS – Very Special, 3 Etoiles, ***, Sélection, De Luxe minimum of 2 years
VSOP – Very Superior Old Pale, Réserve, Vieux, Rare, Royal minimum of 4 years
XO – Extra Old, Hors d’âge, Extra, Ancestral, Ancêtre, Or, Gold, Impérial minimum of 10 years
XXO – Extra Extra Old minimum of 14 years
Other aging classifications:
Supérieur, Cuvée Supérieure, Qualité Supérieure minimum of 3 years
Vieille Réserve, Réserve, Rare, Réserve, Royale minimum of 5 years
Napoléon, Très Vieille Réserve, Très Vieux, Héritage, Très Rare, Suprême minimum of 6 years
Thanks to Winespeed for their research. I only drink the stuff.
Pimm’s was so popular at the oyster bar that James Pimm started selling it around London for “three shillings a bottle” in the 1800s. Commercial distribution followed in 1865, as did other “cup” variations including ones made with Scotch, rum, brandy, rye whiskey, and vodka. Of those, only the brandy-based version, originally called Pimm’s No. 3, now known as Pimm’s Winter, and the vodka-based Pimm’s No. 6 remain (though the latter is currently only available across the pond.)
Pimm’s caught on with the British and became popular at prestigious events like the Chelsea Flower Show and the Henley Royal Regatta, along with becoming the go-to drink at British university garden parties. A Pimm’s bar first popped up at the 1971 Wimbledon tournament, and now more than 300,000 glasses of the recipe are served to spectators every year.
Yes, I made it to Centre Court on several occasions. I roamed the grounds all day long, and saw most of the stars, tennis and others. And I made some lifelong friends along the way!
So, take your pick: a beer, a glass of champagne, or a Pimm’s. Or, as I did, all three, and on the same day, of course!!!
PS: The strawberries and cream were a bit of a disappointment. But the Pimms and champagne? Never!
And here is a good blog for champagne:
Sally Hillman’s love affair with champagne is longstanding as is her knowledge and enthusiasm for this intriguing and diverse French wine, in particular the lesser known, exclusive grower- producers.
Paired only with champagne our bespoke luncheon, dining or soirée experiences feature seasonal menus with exquisite dishes to showcase the individual nature of the selected champagnes. Sally Hillman takes guests on a journey through champagne which is memorable and fun for all.
Sally Hillman’s depth of knowledge was recognised in 2018 when she was chosen as a finalist in the prestigious Vin de Champagne Awards, organised by the Australian Bureau du Champagne (a representative of the Comité Champagne).
It’s true. I drink a glass of Champagne every single night. A bottle lasts me several days (after pouring a glass, I use a Champagne stopper to keep the bubbles in). I don’t find it to be an extravagance–just my own one necessary indulgence. Why do I do it?
o Because I like the snappiness, raciness and energy of Champagne.
o Because it’s full of mineral flavors. And minerals are like micro explosions
on the palate.
o Because it doesn’t have new oak flavors.
o Because it goes with virtually every food imaginable.
o Because it’s sleek and taut on the palate—not heavy.
o Because there’s a purity and precision to Champagne that so few other wines possess.
o Because it separates day from night. A demarcation. I like it when every evening has its own beginning.
How’s Your French?
Here are some tips on pronouncing some (often mispronounced) Champagne brand names.
Moët et Chandon—Mo-ETTE ay Shan-DON
The “t” in Moët is indeed pronounced.
Pol Roger—Paul Roe-ZHAY
Winston Churchill reportedly drank a glass of this every morning.
Nicolas Feuillatte—NEE-co-la FOY-yat
Easy to say and easy to drink.
Although the British fondly pronounce
Not your mum; more like the sound
a cow makes.
Pierre Gimonnet—Pee-AIR ZHEE-mon-ay
Known for their lacy fresh
blanc de blancs.
Like Moët, the “t” is pronounced.
Billecart Salmon—BEE-ya-car Sal-MON
No “t” sound. Their rosé is especially
Marc Hébrart—Mark Hey-BRA
One of our favorite Grower
Champagne wines for their
consistently delicious wines.
Often mistakenly pronounced RUE-in-art.
This French brand, whose name is German in origin, is not pronounced
the German way.
No “t” sound we’re afraid.
Veuve Clicquot – Vuhv klee-KOH
Not pronounced “voov,” the word means “widow” in French.
The bubbles (all one million of them in every glass) certainly give Champagne an extra dimension of texture and make it super lively on the palate. But bubbles also contribute to the overall flavor by magnifying a Champagne wine’s aroma. (Flavor is the unified perception of smell and taste). As bubbles rise and burst at the surface of the liquid, tiny droplets of wine are released into the air, projecting the wine’s aroma to your nose. Even when the wine is on your palate, the bubbles help project its aromas to your retronasal passages, thereby amplifying the wine’s smell, and hence its flavor. (Thank you, Karen at Winespeed)
No matter which one(s) you drink, I offer you a hearty “Bonzai” and stay well.