A Sparkling Valentine’s Day

A Sparkling Valentine’s Day
Exactly like nothing else

By: Linda Kissam

The power of love through the palate is an intriguing thought because nothing says, “Celebrate” quite like a worthy bottle of bubbly.

Whether you’re looking for a Champagne or sparkling wine to toast your Valentine sweetie, there are plenty of options at just as many price points. I’ll get you started with some solid sparkling wine selections below that I tasted recently, along with a suggestion of the best place to buy your sparklers – online or brick and mortar.

  1. Domaine Rosier Cuvee Jean Philippe Brut Blanquette di Limoux 2014 , (90% Mauzac, 10% Chardonnay): This $10 beauty has a Prosecco edge to it.  Light yellow color in the glass, clear looking throughout. Nose of peach, apricot, pear and wet stones. Flavors of pears with lemon notes and minerals on finish. Medium acidity, medium to full bodied. Drink or hold. Excellent with Asian or spicy foods.
  1. Recaredo Brut Nature Gran Reserva Terrers 2009: This French $28 dry sparkler is comparable to a $60-$80 Champagne. Bio dynamically farmed and aged 65 months it is an artesian offering not to be missed. Taste what impeccable farming can produce. Vinified with 52% Xarel·lo, 32% Macabeu, 16% Parellada. Has an alcohol content of 12%. Pairs especially well with seafood.
  2. Caraccioli Brut Cuvee 2009, $40: A California bubbly from the Santa Lucia Highlands. The mix of 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir is especially good for the American palate which often appreciates a slightly more fruit forward taste. Extremely small production. Think light yellow with citrus and orchard fruit aromas complimented by hints of buttered croissant, minerals and field flowers. Juicy taste offering Meyer lemon and pear flavors. A wonderful brunch wine.
  1. Marie Hanze Eaux Belle Brut, $28: Perhaps the most “serious” of the suggested choices. About 200 cases were made so this energetic  blend of 60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Meunier, 10% Pinot Noir may take some time to locate. The family’s history can be traced back to being growers in 1753 in the village of Chamery in France.  There are other documents that suggest the family grape growing tradition may have existed as early as 1533. Nice to know, but this winery isn’t clinging just to the past, it is looking toward the future.  In 2009 the winery installed photovoltaic panels.  These panels now supply 90% of their power requirements, greatly reducing their carbon footprint. I think you will enjoy the copious pinpoint bubbles.  The nose has green apples, freshly baked bread, minerals, lemon zest and orange blossoms.  Tart apples, minerals and lemon zest eventually slip into the picture.  The finish has good length and leaves your mouth watering for another sip.  It’s a definite winner.
  2. Soucherie Cremant de Loire Rosé 2014, $20: Let’s end this discussion with what Wine Ex co-owner Kyle Meyer describes as a, “Back the truck up sparkler,” meaning this is a premium wine at a ridiculous price.  Buy as much as you can. It makes a great pairing with vegetarian foods and light fish meals. This is a dry sparkling wine that is mostly Cabernet Franc (90%) with some Chenin Blanc (10%), planted in clay and schist soils. The wine spends a year to 18 months on the lies before disgorgement. Fine bubbles match perfectly with the elegant fruit and crisp, mineral profile of the wine. A mere 3000 bottles are produced each year.

Where to buy these wines

Wine Exchange

Located in Orange County, CA. think the perfect online and brick and mortar wine sales and education stage.  With their state-of-the-art website, extensive wine showroom, cheeky but educational daily missives, a YouTube channel, a tempting pre-arrivals offering system, rock-bottom prices and premium services, this is the go to place to purchase all your wines.  There are wines here that you won’t find anywhere else.  EACH ONE is personally tasted and selected by the owners.

Enjoy this appetizer from Melissa’s/World Variety Produce located in Vernon, CA.  It will go nicely with any of the sparklers mentioned above.


Vegetarian Wontons
By Melissa’s Corporate Chefs


1 ounce Dried Rice Noodle
1/2 pound Napa Cabbage
1/2 pound Bok Choy (use Baby Bok Choy)
2 ounces Firm Tofu, well blotted and crumbled.
3 tablespoons Sesame Oil
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 pinch Ginger Root grated
1 ounce Monosodium Glutamate (optional)
Dipping Sauce
3 tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese Black Vinegar
1 teaspoon Sesame Oil
1 pinch White Pepper Chinese Hot Pepper Sauce to your taste (optional)
To Make the Vegetable Filling
In small bowl, combine mushrooms with boiling water to cover. Let sit 30 minutes to soften. Drain; remove tough stems and finely dice caps. Set aside. In small bowl, combine noodles with boiling water to cover. Let sit 10 minutes to soften. Drain; finely dice. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add the cabbage; blanch until just wilted. Using a slotted spoon, remove cabbage to strainer set over a large bowl. Press down on cabbage to squeeze out all liquid. Transfer to cutting board; roughly dice. Using the same pot of boiling water, repeat the process with the bok choy. Place all chopped vegetables in large bowl.
Finely dice the dried bean curd; add to vegetable mixture. Add the sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, and monosodium glutamate (optional) to the vegetable mixture. Stir in chopped mushrooms and noodles until completely incorporated.
To Wrap the Dumplings
Using a spoon or chopsticks, place one heaping tablespoon of dumpling filling in the center of the dumpling wrapper. Using your fingertip wet the outer edge of the dumpling wrapper with water. Fold up the sides of the dumpling into a half-moon shape. While holding the dumpling lengthwise, curved side up, use your index finger and thumb to pinch the edges of the dough.
To be sure the dumpling is completely sealed. If there is too much filling and the dumpling cannot be sealed, remove the extra filling to prevent leakage during cooking. Line up the finished dumplings on a foil-lined cookie sheet to prevent them from sticking. You can freeze dumplings this way for up to one month.
To Cook
To cook the dumplings, gently lower them into a medium pot of boiling water and boil for approximately three to five minutes. They are done when the dumpling skins are translucent and the dumplings have been floating for about three minutes.
Remove from pot carefully with a slotted spoon. Serve hot. For dipping sauce In small serving bowl, combine all ingredients. Serve with dumplings.

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