Brazilian Bubbles and Birthday Cake

September started out quietly. Both my husband and I were home, in between business trips (for him) and WSET diploma classes (for me.) Our plan was to enjoy some time together before our schedules heated up and left little opportunity for doing our favorite things: staying up late, sleeping in the next morning, and wandering around Miami discovering new places to eat, drink, and be merry.

And then, along came Dorian. Hurricane Dorian.

As the storm gathered strength and moved ever-so-slowly toward the Florida coast, Miami remained solidly within its possible path – otherwise known as the dreaded Cone of Uncertainty. With forecasters predicting Dorian’s intensity to reach category 5, Gabe and I made the decision to get the hell out of dodge.

So much for our Miami meanderings . . . .

Hello, Big Apple!

Fortunately we had a place to go, as Gabe’s family lives in the city. Having an alternate home base is convenient for him, especially if work takes him to Europe; it also enables me to attend wine classes at the International Wine Center.

Soon after arriving, the hustle and bustle of the city caught up with us. Gabe ended up with a full slate of meetings and I began prepping for my fortified wine class. Operation Idle Time was put on hold, indefinitely.

There was one notable exception, however: my birthday.

“What Are You Doing?”

“I’m Baking a Cake!”

This is a joke Gabe and I share, prompted by his habit of coming into a room and asking, “What are you doing?” even if what I’m doing is fairly obvious. One day, after being asked this question while I was folding the laundry, I answered, “I’m baking a cake,” something I almost never do. I roll my eyes and we both have a chuckle.

On the morning of my birthday, I actually baked a cake.

I was really missing my mom and thought back to the cake she used to make for me every year: a simple bundt cake flavored with dark rum and topped with crushed pecans. Suddenly that’s what I wanted for my birthday and I searched through my files for the recipe. A quick trip to the market followed by an hour in the kitchen and, voilà! I had my cake.

Birthday Cake
Fresh out of the oven and smelling delicious!

As luck would have it, I received a sample of sparkling wine from Brazil, courtesy of Wines of Brasil and Susannah Gold of Avvinare. It was made via the traditional method, the same process used in Champagne, and was demi-sec (slightly sweet) in style. It would be the perfect pairing for my rum cake!

But, before dessert, my wonderful husband treated me to a special dinner in Central Park – at the same restaurant where we had our wedding celebration lunch.

Dinner at the Central Park Boathouse

I love this place! It’s right in the middle of the park and sits at the edge of a small lake where the romantically inclined can rent a rowboat and glide aimlessly around. Tourists love the restaurant, but so do locals: the food is top-notch and you can’t beat the view. It’s always packed but reservations are available via Open Table, provided you book in advance.

Gabe and I have a soft spot for the Boathouse because it’s where we and our small wedding party celebrated after the ceremony. Whenever we can, we try to slip in for lunch, usually around our anniversary in late December. It’s always a treat.

But, until last month, I hadn’t realized that I’d never experienced the Boathouse during the summer or fall, when all the windows are wide open offering splendid glimpses of the lake, the night sky, and the skyscrapers lining Central Park South. It’s magical!

See for yourself!

Central Park South Skyline at Night
A quick peek at Central Park South as seen from the reservoir.
Looking Out from Boathouse
View from our table, looking over the lake and, just beyond, the skyscrapers.
Golden Beet Salad
Mixed beet salad – so many flavors!
Lamb Loin and Couscous
Loin of lamb over couscous, beets, and kale.
Selfie Duet
Dorky selfie at the table.
Sunset to the West
Sunset across the reservoir.

Finally Time for Dessert

After a leisurely walk home, we got into our comfy clothes and I sliced up some cake and poured us each a glass of Brazilian bubbles. The slight sweetness of the wine was right at home with the cake: it brought out the caramel notes in the dark rum glaze and made the pecans taste even nuttier and richer.

Cake and Bubbles
Dessert is served!

As Gabe and I toasted to my special day, I remembered birthdays past, when my mom always had the cake sitting on the dining room table when I got home from school. I think she’d approve of the addition of Brazilian sparkling wine to the display; I know she’d have appreciated a sip to go along with her slice of cake!

About NV Miolo Cuvée Tradition Espumante Demi-Sec

CLose Up Cake and Bubbles
Miolo Demi-Sec traditional method sparkling wine.

The Miolo family, originally from Italy’s Veneto region, has been making wine in Brazil since 1897 and is now the country’s leading exporter of wine. It is also a founding member in the Wines of Brasil Project, which supports growers, producers, and exporters in their efforts to improve viticultural methods and winemaking process. On the world stage, the Project seeks to promote Brazilian wines and increase opportunities for market expansion.

The company’s wine business includes four distinct units located in different regions of the country:

  • Miolo Winery in Vale dos Vinhedos in Rio Grande do Sul
  • Seival Estate in Campanha Meridional
  • Almadén Winery in Campanha Central
  • Terranova Winery in Vale do Sao Francisco

This particular wine is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (no data on the exact percentages) and was made according to the traditional method, the same process used by winemakers in Champagne, in which the second fermentation occurs in the same bottle that will be sold to the consumer. It was aged on its lees for 12 months, imparting a subtle autolytic character (bread and biscuit aromas) to the wine.

Retail price is in the $15 range, making it an affordable luxury for everyday occasions. I certainly enjoyed it with my homemade birthday cake and imagine it would make a wonderful apéritif alongside a cheese platter and a bowl of mixed nuts.

If you’re curious about Brazilian wine and would like to read more, check out Susannah’s invitation and preview posts for September’s Wine Pairing Weekend (#winepw) event.

And here are links to three posts I did prior to the 2016 Olympics in Rio, featuring the history of winemaking in Brazil, the different grape growing regions, and the future of Brazilian wine.

Last but definitely not least, here are links to the articles posted by the rest of the #WinePW gang, with their delicious pairings with Brazilian wine:

Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “A Brazilian Sparkler +Frango à Passarinho and Pao de Queijo

Linda of My Full Wine Glass will be posting “Head to Southern Brazil for High-Quality Wine

Cindy of Grape Experiences   writes “Wine and Dine Brazilian Style with Alma Brut White Sparkling Wine from Salton Winery and Fried Calamari

Gwen at Wine Predator shares “A Poet Pairs Poetica Sparkling Rosé from Brazil

David of Cooking Chat  will be pairing “Brazilian Beans, Greens and Bacon with Sparkling Wine

Pinny of Chinese Food and Wine Pairing will be serving “Miolo Alisios Pinot Grigio/Riesling and Raw Ahi Tuna 3 Ways

Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm will be adding “Enjoying Indian Summer with Alma Sparkling Brut from Brazil

Cynthia and Pierre of Traveling Wine Profs will be sharing “Friends, Seafood, Bubbly and Chardonnay:Our Brazilian Wine Pairing Dinner

Debbie of The Hudson Valley Wine Goddess writes “Celebrating Garden Harvest with Brazilian Wine

Sarah of The Curious Cuisiniere showcases “Pastel de Queijo and Brazilian Sparkling Wine Pairing

Jill of L’Occasion posts “Bubbles from Brazil: a Treat for Wine Lovers

Jennifer of Vino Travels muses about “Brazilian Sparkling Wines with Salton Brut

Liz of What’s in the Bottle? joins with “Brazilian Sparkling Wines with Salton Brut

Susannah at Avvinare posts about “Miolo Merlot Paired with Brazilian Skirt Steak with Golden Garlic Butter.”


  1. Happy Belated Birthday! Glad you were able to fly away north before Dorian landed. The cake looks marvelous. What a beautiful legacy from your mom. Hope it was a comfort to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such an enjoyable post! Great to hear you made the most out of your time when you had to leave Miami. I have only seen the Boathouse during the day and was surprised to see the great scene from there after dark. It was good to read about a type of bubbly I have yet to try. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Kevin. I appreciate your taking the time to read and comment! Definitely check out the Boathouse, whether for lunch or dinner, next time you’re in the city. And I highly recommend sampling some Brazilian bubbles if you have the chance. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

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