How-To Piss Off purists

How-To Piss Off purists

So I did something bad the other night - at least it would be looked upon unfavorably by most wine afficianados. But it was so delicious that I am proud to both admit it and share it, which just may free me up to share some other wine related faux pas that just may become dirty secrets as well.

I have been blogging and talking a lot about champagne alternatives, and I typically suggest Moscato d'Asti to those who favor sweetness in their libations, and domestic sparklers (New Mexico is worth checking out) for those looking for something drier and closer in style to true champagne. I inadvertantly dismiss Cava and Prosecco to a degree, although both have their merits, but after the other night that list may shorten to just Cava (until I find a perfect use for it as well).

Prosecco, "the other Italian sparkler", is often creamier in taste and mouth feel than most wine, and certainly more than most sparkling wine. To generalize, most prosecco has a sour green apple thing going on, and are light, crisp, and refreshing. Many writers also say that it is typically sweet, but I had not, until the other evening, found that to be the case. That is, not until I sweetened the deal.

So we're in the fourth paragraph, and I still haven't revealed the act that may lose me some cool points in the wine world (at least they're short paragraphs) - but due the drum roll: I added mango sorbet (Haagan-Dazs) to the prosecco, eatting some bites out of the glass with a spoon, and allowing some it it to melt into the wine itself, then sipping and enjoying. How good was it? Well, good enough to inspire me to blog about it. It was significantly better than I anticipated. Everyone has a unique pallet but I emphasize that this was delicious, delicious, delicious. Truly a wow, provided that you have a sweet tooth.

We got the idea from a Good Housekeeping type magazine, so it is not original, but we opted for mango rather than their recommended lemon, which also could have been good. I imagine raspberry, cabernet, key lime, and vanilla bean sorbet would all be exceptional as well.

While I'm adding all kinds of things to wine and sharing recipes with you, I may as well talk about sangria for a moment. Most basically, there are red and white sangria made, respectively, from red and white wine. I favor spanish wine because it is authentic, delicious, and can be procured for a reasonable price. Many people put brandy in their sangria, and many restaurants do as well, so I recommend it, although it is not neccessary. I have made sangria with vodka before that turned out great, and sometimes depending on the day and company, I don't put any hard liquor at all.

Good wine, complimentary juice (fruit punch is great for red sangria, as is red grape juice; lemonade, white grape and white cranberry are all great for white). A little sugar and fresh lemon juice are great if needed (probably not is you use a lemonade, however). Well-cut fruit is key: oranges, apples, grapes and marachino cherries are the go to. Sparkling water can make a nice, sparkling sangria if a little dilution is in order. Have fun playing around with different blends and proportions - you're sure to find a balance that suits you perfectly.

Finally, on a very different note, last night I was offered a very small sip of Salon Blanc de Blanc Champagne that we sell at the restaurant for over a thousand-dollars a bottle. I hate to admit it, but it was the very best champagne I have ever had. By far. Subtle, and the perfect balance of toasty, dry, sweet, floral, elegant, and the finish lasted substantially longer than any other champagne I have ever had. So now I have to figure out how to make a billion dollars so that I can enjoy it more regularly. Hopefully this is the year for my music group, Knowaries ;)

Well, thank You for taking the time to read my blog - all my best thoughts and energies as we round the holiday corner. Be well, wear lots of layers, and don't forget to drink your wine! Cheers!

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  • You had a variation on a bellini, using mango sorbet instead of peach purée. Pretty common brunch offering, even with mango. Using sorbet and mixing it with Champagne (and Prosecco on occasion), it's a palate cleanser or finisher for many tasting menus, even a parting note at a lot of French bistros. That "piss off the purists" stigma is long gone.

    And Cava, especially vintage Cava, leads with a minerality that is distinctly and only Spanish, tasting like a late afternoon Spanish breeze. Try vintage Raventos i Blanc, the house bubbles of El Bulli for years. Even the non-vintage Juvé E Camps with Spanish food explodes with a sense of Spanish identity and place. Great stuff.

    It's not really about what's better. Each bubbly expression offers something different. The balance I can find with well-chosen Cava for $20-25 doesn't exist in that price realm for Champagne with more balance, openness, expression and food-friendliness than even some NV Champagne in the $40-60 world. Champagne is, of course, king when it comes to elegance and shimmering prettiness in the glass, but if I want a fancy lunch or dinner with bubbles at home for under $40-50 total with the cost of food, I'm going with Cava and loving every minute of it.

  • @Christo: Thank You for taking the time to read and comment on my blog. I appreciate your perspective, and acknowledge your knowledge base, but it is pretty clear that you and I have distinctly different palates. Being a somm and waiter for the better part of twenty years, I have sold and sampled hundred if not thousands of sparkling wines of all styles, but you may be the most on fire for Cava of anyone I have ever spoken to. I have never had my mind blown by Cava, and, in fact, hav always been disappointed to some degree by it. The best Cava I have ever had just drank like a medial champagne. I have never experienced a late Spanish breeze, so maybe it's partially circumstantial ignorance on my behalf, and admitedly I have an affinity for the slightly sweeter, as a rule. But I am glad to hear that there are consumers out their who love Cava - I am inherantly a BIG fan of spanish wine. I have never seen this "twist on a belini" offered as a palate cleanser, although we do offer small bites of gelatto as amuse bouche palate cleansing courses at my restaurant. I would argue that PURISTS: ( "one who desires that an item remain true to its essence and free from adulterating or diluting influences") would be pissed off by a bellini as well, and especially by a twist on it. However, as a classically trained "cork dork", I feel as though breaking down some of the old barriers is a very good thing.
    I am very happy to engage in this conversation with you - your opinon is both valued and enjoyed. I hope to embark upon further conversation with you in the future. All my best, cheers,
    Cory "The Wine Guy" Warfield; ww.theswirler.com

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    Cory Warfield

    I am a server at Mastro's Steak House. I have been a wine-director and staff sommelier at a variety of concepts over the course of fifteen years. In addition to studying, enjoying, and writing about wine, and working as a waiter, I am a singer/songwriter, and enjoy spending time with my beautiful other half, Rebecca, and our dogs. I am from Chicago, but have lived years on- and off in Telluride, Colorado, which is where I met Rebecca in 2009, and where I first had the privilage of studying with a Master Sommelier, as well as my first high-end server position at the New Sheridan Chop House.

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