There are so many great pairings to enjoy over the holidays. Our favorite is bubbly champagne and sparking wines with rich, dark chocolates on New Year’s Eve.
Consider having a selection of bubbles on hand for your celebration, make it a tasting party and toast your way through the continents. Start of course with the Champagne region of France, a place we can all thank for inventing golden bubbles that tickle our noses.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Moet & Chandon winemaker, Elise Losfelt, for a private Masters Champagne Class and was delighted to taste a variety of champagnes. She walked me through the world of Moet & Chandon beginning with Moet Imperial, a classic choice blended for a consistent flavor year after year. Elise works alongside nine other winemakers to blend until each year’s batch is perfect and nearly indiscernible from the year’s prior. Then we swirled and sipped our way through the Grand Vintages, these wines are meant to be savored. My pick for NYE is the Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage 2006 ($72), a perfectly balanced and delicately nuanced wine with crisp peach and honeysuckle notes. The luscious wine needs a little time to breathe to be fully appreciated.
Staying with French sparkling wines, Helfrich Cremantd d’Alsace ($22), located in northern France, is a fresh and fruity brut. Crafted in the traditional method from pinot blanc grapes the wine is crisp and delicate. For those who like to add a bit of ice to their wines, try J.P. Chenet Ice Edition Sparkling Wine ($20), a sparkling wine with extra bubbles made to be enjoyed over ice. The steady stream of fine bubbles goes well with foie gras and of course chocolates.
Moving across the Alps to Italy we discovered Villa Sandi Prosecco DOC ($11). This dry sparkler from Veneto, is fruity with the flavor of golden apples and a nice finish. We also suggest Berlucchi Franciacorta ’61 Rose ($35). This sparkling is a cheerful pink, a blend of pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, has notes of wild berries and pairs well with dark chocolates.
Back in the USA our own winemakers are blending bubbles that rival their European counterparts. Out in sunny California’s Napa Valley we like the blend of 80% pinot noir and 20% chardonnay grapes that compose the Mumm Napa Brut Rose ($24). Fresh and fruity with just a hint of spicy oak, this pink coral sparkling wine has red fruits and a soft, elegant texture. And what’s a wine round-up without a sparkling wine from Long Island Wine Country? We can’t get enough of Sparkling Pointe’s 2005 Brut Seduction ($60). The rich golden color and toasty flavors in this refreshing wine are made to be sipped and enjoyed long after the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.
During that final leg of the holiday season when we’re all over-stuffed with cookies and cakes but still want something sweet, one little truffle (alright, two or three) is perfect with a toast and a kiss to ring in 2015. We recently fell head-over-heels for truffles from Pure Madness Chocolate and Hampton Chocolate Factory.
The bonbons, bars, and cubes from Hampton Chocolate Factory are simply scrumptious. Made in Brooklyn by crafted chocolatiers and shipped to the Hamptons in climate controlled trucks daily, with flavors like passion fruit, peanut butter and raspberry jelly, and coffee cardamom you’ll be dropping by their new 94 Main Street, Southampton shop on a regular basis for a little bite of bliss. Owners Evan and Caroline Gappelberg are proud to say that all of their chocolates are preservative-free, all-natural, and Kosher. ($100 for the 45-piece bonbon collection, www.hamptonchocolatefactory.com)
Ship something fabulous to yourself from Pure Madness Chocolate. Their chocolate truffle collection is meant to be eaten with your eyes closed so you can let the flavor take over your senses. We followed the suggestion and needed a good nudge to come out of the chocolate fantasy. Dark and milk chocolate truffles include rum raisin, chili lime, and the dangerously addictive sea salt caramel. ($65 for the 25-piece truffle assortment, www.puremadnesschocolate.com)