Thanks to Domaine Carneros for sponsoring this post by providing me with two bottles of their sparkling wines. All opinions are my own.
When was the last time you popped open a bottle of sparkling wine? Almost certainly for a birthday, holiday, or other celebratory events. Sparkling wine comes in a range of price points, so why not open a bottle with dinner tonight or Sunday brunch? Sparkling wine is a versatile food pairing with its refreshing acidity, cleansing bubbles, and lower alcohol.
Why Sparkling Wine is a Versatile Food Pairing
- Bubbles. Not only do they cleanse your palate after a bite of food, but they play as a nice contrast to the texture of fried foods, puff pastry, and rich buttery sauces. Those bubbles can even balance out spicy foods.
- Acidity. Counterbalances salty, fatty, and oily foods.
- Low Alcohol. The weight and freshness of lower alcohol wines pairs with a wide range of foods from seafood, vegetarian, to spicy dishes.
- Fruit Forward. Especially in rosé sparkling wines, more body and depth of flavor complements a variety of cuisines from Asian, Indian to Mediterranean.
Beyond the food-friendly aspect of sparkling wines, depending on the occasion and budget, there is a sparkling wine in a wide range of price levels. Wine Folly has a great article on “Finding the best Champagne and Bubbly on any Budget.” My advice, start exploring and tasting to find the sparkling wines just right for your occasion, food, and budget.
To get you started with tasting and pairing some bubbles, here are just a few ideas that I paired with Domaine Carneros sparkling wines.
Domaine Carneros is a small grower-producer located in the Carneros appellation of Northern California. The estate totals 400 acres; 275 acres of Pinot Noir and 125 acres of Chardonnay. Founded by the family behind Champagne Taittinger of Reims France, Domaine Carneros produces sparkling wines in the méthode traditionnelle.
Tasting and Pairing Two Domaine Carneros Sparkling Wines
Domaine Carneros Brut 2016, Carneros AVA, Napa, California
12% abv | $36.00 SRP (sample) | 51% Chardonnay, 47% Pinot Noir, and 2% Pinot Gris
The signature wine of Domaine Carneros. It includes the largest range of estate clones and vineyard blocks of the winery’s collection. Aged for a minimum of 3 years in the bottle on its lees before disgorgement and given a 0.9% dosage.
Medium-straw in color. Medium-bodied with medium(+) acidity. Fresh aromas of citrus and floral. On the palate, lime zest, apple, and floral notes. Smooth round mouthfeel with balanced, crisp acidity and a lingering finish.
Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé 2016, Carneros AVA, Napa, California
12% abv | $44.00 SRP (sample) | 58% Pinot Noir and 42% Chardonnay
A favorite sparkling wine among Domaine Carneros enthusiasts. A portion of the pinot noir juice is left in contact with the skins for three days during harvest, giving the wine a fruit-forward character. 42% chardonnay is added to the blend for structure. A dosage of 0.9% is added to the wine.
Pale salmon in color. Medium bodied with medium(+) acidity. On the nose aromas of berries and citrus. On the palate, fresh acidity with notes of grapefruit, strawberries, raspberries, and biscuits. Well balanced with a savory finish.
Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé paired with Ras el Hanout Chicken Wraps with Pomegranate Seeds – The fresh acidity of the wine complements the tart pomegranate seeds and the citrusy sumac spice in the yogurt sauce. That same acidity cuts through the creamy yogurt and texture of the chicken. The wine’s fruity elements, along with the bubbles balances, the slightly spicy ras el hanout spice. Overall an exciting pairing of exotic Mediterranean flavors with a well structured sparkling wine.
Domaine Carneros Brut 2016 paired with Spinach Artichoke Frittata with Goat Cheese – The wine’s bubbles and acidity are a refreshing component to the frittata’s creamy egg and goat cheese elements. The tartness of the artichokes, leeks, and dill are a complementary match for the wine’s acidity. The perfect brunch pairing, a harmonious match of contrasts and complementary elements.
Ras el Hanout Chicken Wraps with Pomegranate Seeds
- 2 tablespoons ras el hanout I used the Epicurious recipe or buy a pre mixed spice
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely chopped
- kosher salt
- 4 fresh sprigs of thyme
- 4 chicken breasts, bone-in and skin-on
- extra virgin olive oil
- 6-8 flour tortilla wraps
- 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced in to half moons
- pomegranate molasses
- pomegranate seeds
- salad mix of arugula, swiss chard, and spinach I used "Organic Girl" Super Green Mix
for the yogurt sauce
- 1 small bunch of mint, leaves only and finely chopped
- 2 cups Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons sumac
- freshly ground black pepper
for the yogurt sauce
- In a bowl combine and mix together the mint, yogurt, sumac, pepper and a pinch of salt.
to oven roast the chicken
- In a small bowl combine one tablespoon of the ras el hanout, the teaspoon of fennel seeds, and a good pinch of salt.
- In a second small bowl combine the remaining tablespoon of ras el hanout and a good pinch of salt.
- Divide the contents of the first bowl (the one that contains the fennel seeds) among the underside of the chicken breasts. Place the chicken on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Space the chicken breasts out so they are not touching each other.
- Place 4 sprigs of the thyme under the skin of each chicken breast. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over each breast and rub it evenly over the skin. Divide the second bowl of the spice mixture over the top (skin side) of the chicken. Allow the chicken to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Bake the chicken for 35-40 minutes or until an instant thermometer registers 165 F
- Allow the chicken to cool for for 10 minutes. Cut the chicken off the bone and slice into strips.
Assembling the wraps
- Preheat oven to 200 F. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place the tortillas so they are not overlapping. Warm the tortillas for about 3-4 minutes or until just warm.
- Place a tortilla on a dinner plate, drizzle with pomegranate molasses. Top with several chicken slices, onion slices, salad mix, pomegranate seeds, a dollop of the yogurt sauce and a drizzle of the pomegranate molasses. Fold two opposite sides in to the center and enjoy!
Spinach Artichoke Frittata with Goat Cheese
- 1 small leek, well washed and thinly sliced
- 1 medium garlic clove, minced
- 1 15-oz can of baby artichokes, halved, well drained
- 8 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup fresh goat cheese
- 1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 6 cups baby spinach leaves, loosely packed (chopped if leaves are large)
- Preheat the oven to 400 F
- In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, dill, kosher salt, and a good pinch of black pepper. Whisk the goat cheese and Parmesan cheese into the mixture.
- In a 10-inch oven-safe skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks, garlic, and artichokes, and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the spinach and sauté until wilted, about 2 minutes. Mix and toss so some of the spinach remains on the top.
- Pour the egg mixture into the skillet, smooth with a spatula. Cook for 5-7 minutes over medium heat until the bottom is set and lightly golden. You can check this by pulling the side back slightly with a spatula.
- Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the top is puffed, set and lightly golden. Let it rest for 10 minutes and cut into wedges.