The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is lit which mean it’s officially the beginning of holiday season! Parties every weekend and Champagne in hand is always what rings in the holiday season and New Year! And of course, nothing is worse than when you are at a holiday party and your glass of bubbly goes FLAT. So why not try this! Slip a raisin into your glass and watch the bubbles unfold!
There is something so comforting and elegant about Cupcake Vineyards to me that I just can’t get enough of. Is it the brand’s navy, white, and yellow colors that make it stand out so tastefully (no pun intended) on a dinner table and something I could totally see in Elle Decor? Or is it simply its great taste and quality of the wine that makes for a predictable purchase when choosing between brands. How about all of the above! A well received and well rounded brand visually and in taste makes it such a “go-to” wine. And just when I think it couldn’t get any better, this Sunday I discovered that Cupcake also makes a lovely Prosecco to add to its repertoire.
A peach and apricot filled Prosecco that is enhanced with creamy citrus hints and finishes with a bursting bite to make this Prosecco enjoyable for really any occasion. Enjoy as an apéritif with prosciutto and melon or even with homemade chocolate chip walnut pumpkin bread, which is what I am pairing with this as we speak (while enjoying football – hoping to cheers to a NE Patriots win)! The spice of the pumpkin bread compliments the bubbles and citrus nicely!
And the cost? $11 retail. Seriously!
Happy Sunday and Cheers to Cupcake Prosecco!
Homemade Chocolate Chip and Walnut Pumpkin Bread Recipe (makes 2 large loaves)
3 cups Sugar
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
2 tsp Baking Soda
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cloves
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 cup Olive Oil
2/3 cups water
3 1/2 cups Flour
1 can Pumpkin (2 cups)
1 cup Walnuts
1 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate chips
Add ingredients in order, bake for 1hr 25 mins @ 325 degrees let cool and enjoy!
Well looks like we are all safe and Mean Irene has passed! So, what do we do with all of the leftover stock in the fridge!? A Sunday Funday is in order! We thought it would be fun to get a few $12 and under bottles of sparkling wines to try in case we should be stuck inside all day without power. Of course, thankfully that isn’t the case so a reason to taste them – Sunday Funday!
Here are a few tasted, are loved, and under $12! Of course I had to add in a ‘Go To’ favorite just for comfort in case Irene got really out of hand… Enjoy and hope everyone is safe and well for those along the East Coast who haven’t been hit yet.
Giovello Italy Cuvee Rose Spumante
I loved the bottle and logo and was craving a sparkling rose and this jumped right out at me. Only $12 this wine totally blew me away with it’s refreshing taste, lively bubbles and its vibrantly dry yet ripened fruity taste! A beautiful color and great to serve as an apéritif with a bit of cheese and almonds.
Voveti Prosecco NV
This was another great $12 bottle for it’s taste! The Italian Prosecco was very fruity and had these tiny bubbles that lasted all the way through to the finish. A green apple taste with hints of ripe peach made us forget about any sort of hurricane coming! A incredible length for a Prosecco and price!
Mionetto Prosecco Brut NV
Another great Prosecco, one which could be considered my ‘go to’ and great for mimosas is the Mionetto. It also has tiny long lasting bubbles and has a lovely tart, green apple taste. Full of citrus and a bit dry this tastes very close to a champagne but you mustn’t let it sit in your glass for too long as the bubbles start to fade. A GREAT Prosecco for a brunch party especially if you are serving mimosas for lots of people because it’s only $10!
Celebration usually equals limitless amounts of bubbly, but why deprive ourselves of drinking the stuff that makes us feel so good and giddy inside to a few times a year (graduations, bdays, holidays, wedding etc…). Why not indulge and seize the moment when we have this craving for the ‘good stuff’ and treat ourselves to a glass or two!
Of course I love the pinots, roses, zins, but sometimes (well a lot of the times) when I go out especially with the girls, I want (we all want) a nice refreshing glass to get us in the mood through it’s tornado of bubbles and crisp taste. Many a nights we have champagne night where we just sip on champagne all night long vs. wine, beer or mixed drinks – something about those bubbles after a long work week just make everything so much better!! I have yet to see a champagne drinker with a frown on their face. It’s truely a “happy” drink!
So instead of creating an excuse to drink it, as Nike would say, just do it and cheers to life! Because that is what champagne is really about the celebration of YOU and that’s everyday!!
Champagne Reco’s From Across The Spectrum!
2007 Brut Rose from Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards (~$28) – This sparkling wine with a beautiful golden/rose color from Sonoma Valley has an elegant blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that makes it a special treat with an outdoor breakfast or goes well with a fabulous picnic in the park! Enjoy with strawberries, Italian bread and fine cheese! Enjoy!
Brut Rose NV from J Vineyards (~$30) – From the Russian River Valley, this sparkling rose is a delicious pink color that tastes as good as it looks! Lots of fresh fruits in this sparkling along with a balanced long lasting finish. Another great rose to take with you to the pool and soak in the bubbles!
Prosecco di Conegliano, Brut, Zardetto, NV. (~$11) – 95% Prosecco, 5% Chardonnay, this light crisp wine is full of bubbles and is sure to wake you up and get you in the mood for some fun! Hints of apple and a residual sweetness, great served before dinner with melon and prosciutto!
Paringa Sparkling Shiraz ’08 (~$21) – From Southern Australia this is an extremely refreshing sparkling drink with lots of dark cherry and plums! Many people don’t know about this rarity and it’s a great conversation starter. Share this great summertime drink at BBQ’s, and any sort of salty nuts and apps!
We finally took a glimpse into a remarkable wine region where one of my favorite wines is made (Montepulciano). It is one of the most popular wine regions, the most romantic, and most intriguing winemaking areas in the world… ITALY! Italy is an extremely powerful region due to its heavy wine influence not only in the industry but through its loyal people. A large part of it’s credentialing is due to its vast history in wine making, it’s picturesque towns and vineyards, and proud countrymen known for drinking A LOT of wine especially to complement every meal since Italian food is so irresistible and succulent. In fact, it’s a great thing that Italy is known for their bold and deep bodied red wines since most of their food is pretty heavy and need a sturdy wine to balance out the taste. If you want a nice and heavy chardonnay or Pinot Grigio – go to France however, Italy does make a great sparkling wine from Prosecco!
Like France, Italy also has a classificaiton system that standardizes and enhances the overall qualities of the wine. This will also help you choose a bottle when going into a store and most certainly will dictate the price…
Italy’s Classification System:
- Vino da Tavola – Table wine made from a local winery with little to no standards; The Italy wine you find in jugs
- I.G.T – Denotes wine from a specific region in Italy; higher quality than table wines
- D.O.C – More defined than table wine and IGT; grapes are more specifically defined
- D.O.C.G – Similar to D.O.C the main difference is the DOCG needs to pass a blind taste test!
Tastings (wine’s I liked BOLDED)
Piemonte, Campari – Retails $22 (1st used in 1860 as medicine/tonic/digestive drink)
- Notes: Smells citrusy; flavored alcoholic beverage with a distinct bitter flavor
- Pairings: Usually mixed with soda water, grapefruit juice etc. sipped before dinner to gain an appetite or after dinner with a nice hard cheese – I will definitely serve this before dinner at a dinner party!
Fiano di Avellino, Feudi di San Gregorio 2008 – Retails $22 (Campania, Italy – Fiano Grape)
- Notes: Smells very fruits almost like rich fruit juice; tastes stoney, with fruity long lasting finish, Bright and fruity with lemon
- Pairings: Since it’s a medium bodied dry and elegant wine you could drink it with any sort of Mediterranean dish!
Orvieto Classico, ‘Poggio Calvelli’, La Carraia 2009 – Retails $20 (Umbria, Italy – Grechetto, Trebbiano, Chardonnay Grapes)
- Notes: Smells of apple and bright citrus; tastes light with acid, green apple, bitter, stoney and a very refreshing white wine
- Pairings: Great with an assortment of medium tasting cheeses – not too intense
Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Le Rote 2009. – Retails $14 (Toscana, Italy – Vernaccia Grape)
- Notes: Old apple, floral and crisp smell; tastes sort of like a good Cali Savu. Blanc, very acidic with over ripe fruits and a woody taste
- Pairings: Delicious with grilled chicken, assortment of medium-heavy cheeses
Dolcetta d’Alba, ‘Madonna di Como’, Marchesi di Barolo 2009 - Retails $25 (Piemonte, Italy – Dolcetto grape: lightest Italian grape) **Alba = Truffle region!
- Notes: Smells of light cherry and berries; tastes have tannin, light berries, sour cherry, bright clean red wine similar to a light French red
- Pairings: This medium bodied wine that is very well balanced would go with a simple pork dish
Aglianico del Vulture, Pian del Moro, Musto Carmelitano 2007 – Retails $35 (Campania, Italy – Aglianico Grape)
- Notes: Smells smokey, earthy, dark cherry, plum; tastes a little chewy, tannins, rich dark wood and cedar, dried plums and smoking cherry stand out most
- Pairings: This wine would go amazing with chocolate and hard cheese, big meats
Chianti Classico, ‘Aziano’, Ruffino 2008 – Retails $17 (Toscana, Italy – Sangiovese Grape) – 13% Alcohol
- Notes: Smells of black cherries with a hint of chocolate; Taste is a light simple red wine with astringent tannin
- Pairings: Amazing wine with pizza, simple pasta with tomato sauce – great price for a everyday well balanced wine
Brunello di Montalcino, Cantine di Palazzo, Altesino 2004 – Retails $53 (Toscana, Italy – Sangiovese Grosso Grape)
- Notes: Smells very woody, rich with dark fruits; considered an “ambassador” of top quality Italian wines – tastes very rich in dark fruits, full of tannins with a balance of acidity
- Pairings: A great pairing with rich dishes such as beef stew and barbecues
Valpolicella Classico Superiore, ‘Campo Santa Lena’, Villa Monteleone 2007 – Retails $16 (Veneto Italy – Corvina Grape)
- Notes: Smells of dark fruits, dark cherry; Tastes very rich, dark fruit with a long lasting after taste, tannin that is strong and young in taste
- Pairings: Hard italian cheese for an after dinner bite
Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, I Saltari 2001 – Retails $60 (Veneto, Italy – Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, Molinara Grape)
- Notes: Rich smells of dried plums and dried out grapes; rich in taste, earthy, oaky, dried fruit
- Pairings: Great with an assortment of hard cheeses
- Notes: Brandy in smell, old dry gentle fruit; Tastes full of tannin, raisin, plumy
- Pairings: Pairs well with veal or a stew