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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wine Class: Summer Sparklers and Cheese--An Ideal Pairing

(my final elective course before I began my four week Advanced Wine Essentials courses)

Tonight's class focused on a variety of summer-suitable sparklers (from light to heavy; white to red; brut to sweet) along with corresponding cheeses for pairing. There were a few wines on our list that I was quite familiar with already--Riondo, Gruet, Saint Hilaire--and many that I'd be tasting for the first time. My first notation of the evening was: when pairing wines with cheese, pair the similar attributes.

E. g.: fresh with fresh, light with light.

Our first wine of the evening, Riondo 'Spago Nero' prosecco--a fresh aroma and clean smell--paired nicely with our fresh mozzarella. (it would also pair well with a lobster or crab cocktail)

From this class, I came away with two favorite wines (and one cheese). The first wine: Monterey County, blanc de blanc, Francis Coppola, 'Sofia,' 2010. ($20)

a lovely label, with tiny, circular cut-outs

This California sparkler is a very interesting blend of grapes including riesling and muscat, among others. The 'Sofia' gives off a very flowery bouquet and the taste is not much different from its smell (which a few said was like perfume). A "lady's" wine--perfect for an afternoon brunch. Pair it with something very fragrant--a fruit salad with fresh basil perhaps. However, Sofia may not be for everyone...

MY second favorite sparkler of the evening was the "premium cuvée," 'The Proposition,' Hesketh, NV. ($17)

pink and sweet

This wine (made from chardonnay, semillon and shiraz grapes) was somewhat sweet and as with most sweet wines, would pair well with spicy foods.

Winemaker's Notes: 
Bright, lively, pink colour. Aromas of fresh strawberries with a hint of lemon. The palate starts sweet with fresh chilled strawberry sorbet flavours, some citrus notes, with firm tannins providing middle palate structure followed by a dry, slightly grippy finish reminiscent of fresh strawberries.

I definitely plan on seeking this bottle to enjoy with David...

As for the cheeses, I thoroughly enjoyed both the fresh and aged goat cheese (especially the latter). But the most notable cheese of the evening, for me, was the fleur verte--fresh goat cheese covered in herbs de Provence and pink peppercorns. (and shaped like a flower)

green flower

Out of all the cheeses we tasted, the fleur verte was the best match for the Sofia. (the aromatic thyme is very present in the herbs de Provence).
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