This month the French Winophiles blogging group will get together to share their love of Crémant, a French sparkling wine that is stylistically similar to Champagne (although it can’t be called that because it is not produced in the legally defined area of Champagne.) Most regions in France make a version using local grape varieties, and most are dry. They can be relative bargains for the sparkling wine enthusiast, and pair nicely with a wide range of foods.
Curious to learn more? Join us on Twitter this Saturday, November 17th, at 11 am ET and hear what all the fuss is about. Just follow #Winophiles and make sure to add it to your tweets so we can welcome you. (For a sneak-peek at what each of us is bringing to the party, scroll to the end of this post.)
Jumping on the Holiday Highway
Can you believe that Thanksgiving is next week? As I sit watching the snow swirl outside my window in New York City, I’m confronted with the reality of The Holidays. That means I’ll be busy, busy, busy, with hardly a moment to spare between now and the end of the year.
I won’t complain too much, though, because the season tends to bring out the best in people, myself included: we listen to our favorite carols, dig out our family recipes, and catch up with friends over a glass (or two) of wine. My biggest challenge is striking a balance between work responsibilities and social engagements; keeping a schedule while staying flexible enough to accept a last-minute invitation.
For me that means having a few delicious, easy-to-prepare weeknight dinners in my repertoire. If they can be made in one pot and will serve a crowd, so much the better. And, because ‘tis the season to be merry, I always have a bottle of bubbly on hand to jazz it up a little. Crémant d’Alsace is the perfect addition to my little slice of holiday heaven.
For more detailed information on Alsace and its wines, head over to the Wines of Alsace website. So much to learn and enjoy!
Note: These wines were provided to me as media samples. I received no compensation for this post, and all opinions presented here are my own.
Easy Meal #1: White Chicken Chili and NV Gustave Lorentz Crémant d’Alsace (12% abv; $28.99)
This one-pot wonder takes just 20 minutes to prep, then it simmers until you’re ready to sit down to eat. It is adapted from a recipe that originally appeared in Cooking Light many years ago. I always have leftovers to reheat later in the week or to send home with guests.
- Yield: 6-8 servings
- Cooking spray
- 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 cups finely chopped onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 (4.5-ounce) cans chopped green chiles, undrained
- 1 cup water
- 2 (15.5-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup chopped green onions
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook 10 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently.
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion to pan; sauté 6 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add garlic; sauté 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in cumin, dried oregano, and coriander; sauté 1 minute. Stir in chiles; reduce heat to low, and cook 10 minutes, partially covered. Add the chicken, water, cannellini beans, and broth; bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in hot sauce. Ladle 1 cup of chili into each of 8 bowls; sprinkle each serving with 2 tablespoons cheese, 1 tablespoon cilantro, and 1 tablespoon green onions.
Wine Tasting Notes
This wine is an equal blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Noir grapes, a combination that is a signature of Alsace. Made in accordance with the traditional method of producing sparkling wine (i.e., the second fermentation takes place in the bottle) the wine rests on the spent lees, giving it a characteristic aroma of brioche or dough.
Color: Pale lemon.
Nose: Medium intensity aromas of apple, pear, and lemon peel, accented by notes of biscuit and pastry.
Palate: Crisp orchard fruit with tart citrus notes; the finish is long and redolent of fresh bread. This is a wine to pair with just about anything on your holiday table.
You can purchase the Gustave Lorentz Crémant d’Alsace here.
Easy Meal #2: Cooking Chat’s Best Portuguese Kale Soup with Joseph Cattin Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé Cattin (12% abv; $20.99)
This gem of a meal is courtesy of David Crowley of Cooking Chat, and it’s one of my favorite cold-weather dishes. It comes together in a snap, with a quick chop of the vegetables and searing of the sausage. For a quick soup, depth of flavor is key, and this one won’t disappoint: the smoked andouille, butternut squash, and kale make it taste like it’s been cooking for hours. Your hardest job will be picking the bubbly to accompany it!
Get David’s recipe here.
Wine Tasting Notes
This wine is 100% Pinot Noir from grapes grown on clay and limestone soils. It is made via the traditional method, the same process used to make Champagne.
Color: Pale watermelon, with coral glints. Just gorgeous eye candy in the glass!
Nose: A bouquet of ripe red fruit (cherry, raspberry, and tart pomegranate) fills your nose.
Palate: Tart acidity underpins the ripe fruit, making for a juicy, berry mouthful. It was an affable partner with the many flavors in the soup – a really nice pairing!
You can purchase the Cattin Brut Rosé here.
Easy Meal #3: Charcuterie and Cheese Plate with Domaine Mittnacht Frères Crémant d’Alsace (12% abv; $24.99)
Some nights, despite all best intentions, a dinner plan gets slimmed down to a grazing session. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious! Put out a selection of cheese, ham, and dried sausage, adding some roasted peppers, spicy pickles, and hummus or eggplant dip. Slice up some crusty bread and you’re ready to nosh. A glass of Crémant classes it up (and tastes super delicious!)
Wine Tasting Notes
50% Pinot Auxerrois, with a blend of Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Gris comprising the balance. Grapes hail from a small 20-hectare estate that farms its grapes using biodynamic methods.
Color: Pale lemon, with tiny bubbles (perlage) rising in narrow streams.
Nose: Aromas of unripe peach, melon, apple and pear are complemented by chalky notes. Just a hint of brioche creaminess at the top.
Palate: The was the driest of the three Crémants, with the same restrained fruit as the nose, and a crunchy, mineral component that sharpens the palate. A sip of this wine in between bites of a creamy cheese or deliciously fatty Ibérico ham would be heaven!
You can purchase the Domaine Mittnacht Frères Crémant d’Alsace here.
Here’s a preview of what each of the French Winophiles will be sharing this month:
Liz Barrett from What’s In That Bottle is writing “Affordalicious Alsace: Best Bubbles for the Buck”
Jill Barth from L’Occasion will show us “A Festival of French Crémant”
Robin Renken from Crushed Grape Chronicles will publish “A Sparkling Rosé by any other name…just might be a Crémant”
Camilla Mann will talk about a tasting pairing, Lingcod, Legumes, and Domaine Mittnacht Frères Crémant d’Alsace on her blog Culinary Adventures with Cam.
Susannah Gold from avivinare.com will share her post “French Cremant – Perfect Sparklers for the Holiday Season” Susannah is also on Twitter @vignetocomm and Insta: @vignetocomms)
Martin Redmond will be “Elevating Weeknight Fare with Cremant d’Alsace” at the Enofylz Wine Blog
Nicole Ruiz Hudson’s post on SommsTable.com will be “Crémants for Going Out and Staying In”
Wendy Klik of A Day in the Life on the Farm is writing “Rustic Elegance; Fall Vegetable Soup paired with Cremant” which sounds perfect for Thanksgiving!
Jane Niemeyer will teach us “How to Pair Crémant d’Alsace and Food” at alwaysravenous.com
Payal Vora’s post at Keep the Peas will be called “Crémant d’Alsace: More Than Just A Sparkling Wine”
Jeff Burrows will be pairing “Elegant Crémant de Bourgogne Served with Lobster Two Ways” at foodwineclick.com
Gwendolyn Alley from winepredator.com shares Cremant Rose: 4 Affordable Food-Friendly Beauties for #Winophiles
David Crowley from cookingchatfood.com will be discussing the “Best Food Pairings for Crémant d’Alsace”
Rupal Shankar the Syrah Queen will be giving us “Five Reasons to Drink Crémant d’Alsace this Holiday Season”
Neil will be joining us from Eat, Live, Travel, Write with a post entitled “Champagne taste but not a Champagne budget? An exploration of France’s Crémant wines”
Kat Wisnosky from Bacchus Travel & Tours will share Cremant: The Perfect Style of Wine for a Festive Meal (#Winophiles)
And here at The Swirling Dervish we will “Add a Little Sparkle to Your Holiday with Crémant d’Alsace”.
About the French Winophiles
We are a group of food-loving wine aficionados who have a penchant for French libations. On the third Saturday of each month we gather (virtually) in the Twittersphere to learn more about the history, culture, and gastronomy of France, one region or grape variety at a time. Feel free to join us next month as we prepare for A French-Style Season, to be hosted by Lynn Gowdy of Savor the Harvest. You can find us on social media any time using #Winophiles.