Saturday, March 22, 2008

Wine, Sparkling or Not

I was just reading French Marilyn's blog about pawning wine in France. See her blog on this page. I must say, I see no point in owning wine you can't drink, surely that's what its for. Wines that are valued at $23,000 a bottle may be a great investment, but isn't wine originally intended for consumption and enjoyment? This is a photo of the Chateu where Chateu d'Yquem is produced, one of the most expensive wines in the world.

I remember many years ago my parents met Count Chandon of Moët et Chandon who's yacht happened to be moored alongside theirs, I think it was in Malta, but am not sure. Anyway, they got on very well together and he gave them two bottles of their top champagne, Dom Perignon and a case of red wine, not sure what make it was I always assumed it was from his own estates, but I don't know for sure. My mother saved one bottle of Dom Perignon for me when I visited and we opened it for my birthday, I was terribly disappointed. I love champagne, but I guess I have cultivated a taste for the cheaper, more available, stuff and just didn't enjoy the Dom Perignon one bit. I do like their Moët et Chandon Cordon Rouge champagnes though which are somewhat cheaper. However, the red wine was fantastic, one of the best reds I have ever drunk. I just wish I knew what it was. The picture on the right shows a small bottle of champagne. I used to keep those at home all the time, many years ago, I remember us having the devil of a time trying to open one of the bottles. However, a glass of champagne at 11 in the morning is a very civilised way of living, in my opinion of course. Here we keep three packs of Henkell Trocken Fine Sekt sparkling wine (not allowed to call them champagne unless they are vinted in the Champagne area of France). These are just the size of one champagne flute and so are ideal for me. A tip, by the way, if you open a large bottle of champagne and don't finish it, you can keep it sparkling for a couple of days by putting a silver spoon, handle down, into the neck and putting the bottle in the fridge. Works a treat.

I've talked about Canadian wines before and I found that Hillebrand make a very good sparkling wine, their Trius Brut which is not inexpensive, but worth the price for a special occasion. Their sister winery, Peller, make a sweeter sparkling wine called Crystalle which is a delightful wine, but generally a little too sweet for our tastes, not that Matt really likes champagne anyway. About the only way he will drink it is in a champagne cocktail.

His recipe is:

In a champagne flute build:

1/2 tsp sugar (a cube used to be the best)
Few drops Angostura Bitters
A twist of orange zest
1/2 oz brandy
top with champagne (which of course must be chilled)

Don't drink too many of these, they are pretty lethal. We used to serve these regularly on Christmas morning and once in NC our next door neighbour had to crawl up his steps to get home, he swore we had doctored his drink, we hadn't. There is a fairly local restaurant which does Sunday brunches and usually has a champagne cocktail special. They seem to choose, maybe, an orange flavoured liqueur, top it up with champagne and add some mandarin slices, I have drunk Kir Royale there too which is Cassis and champagne. Kir being a classic drink in France, but made with white wine and Cassis. We have only been to the restaurant once for brunch since we came back as I don't enjoy their brunches as I used to, the whole point, to me, is to have both breakfast foods and lunch foods and they were no longer serving bacon, eggs and other breakfast dishes. Don't get me wrong, it was excellent food, just not really brunch to me any more.

When I first started drinking champagne, it was always served in a cup or bowl shaped glass similar to those on the left. Legend has it that these bowl shapes were designed to emulate the shape of Marie Antoinette's breast. That is the French queen who was guillotined.

Well, now I have to go make preparations for my Easter dinner tonight, my leg of lamb is so big its going to need a couple of hours to cook. I cheated by having a savoury of Brie de Meaux instead of a dessert, so I don't have to worry about that part. It is warming up nicely on the counter top. Matt is going to the store to get a baguette and then we shall be all set.

Have a great day and a Happy Easter.


  1. Moet et Chandon's what dreams are made of, isn't it?

    Have you ever had a Kir Royal? Nothing like it.

    I will try your champagne cocktail.


  2. I mentioned Kir Royal in my blog Marilyn, its a favourite of mine. If you do try my recipe, be careful and don't try doing anything important like driving for instance. I think I will have a morning glass of bubbly right now.