Keeping the season merry and bright with perfect pairings
Bubbles are an excellent choice of wine any time of year, especially so during the festive season. Quality seafood, historically, has been light on availability in Alberta stores, but over the past few years has become increasingly available, with both fresh and frozen products stocked at places like Effing Seafoods, Ocean Odyssey, and Fin’s at Home. If you’re tasked with planning a festive party or dinner menu, read on for some no-fail seafood and sparkling wine pairings.
This popular bubbly is widely known as an aperitivo and is used to make classic drinks like the spritz, mimosa, and bellini. Its crisp, refreshing flavours and delicate bubbles pair well with everything from sweet treats and salty snacks to a variety of appetizers, mains, and even desserts. Prosecco comes in different sweetness levels, indicated on the label as extra brut, brut, extra dry, or dry. For Prosecco, brut has the least amount of residual sugar, whereas dry has the highest. This doesn’t translate to sweetness, but rather to creaminess in your mouth. Choose brut for seafood and salty dishes, and dry for desserts. Don’t pick up just any Prosecco though, look for a top-tier Valdobbiadene Superiore, like Jeio Brut Prosecco. Salmon is an excellent pairing with Prosecco—think mini bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon, garnished with capers and red onion slivers. Jeio Brut Prosecco can be found in many fine boutique wine stores for about $24 per bottle.
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Cava is a sparkling wine made in the Penedes region around Barcelona, Spain. Being so close to the sea, pairing Cava with seafood is a given. Cava is made with indigenous Spanish grapes of macabeu, xarel-lo, and parellada, but made (like Champagne) with a second fermentation in the bottle. The flavours of brioche, biscuit, and meringue, coupled with bright acidity and marked salinity, make it an excellent choice to pair with fried calamari or fried anchovies. Cava is an excellent choice for those who want the same flavour profile as Champagne, but at a fraction of the price. The Augusti Torello Mata is a high-quality cava, with ageing of 24 months on the lees and available for around $28 per bottle.
Not every sparkling wine can be termed as Champagne. Only if it is made in the Champagne region of northern France can it be called this, and for many it is the crème de la crème of the sparkling wine world. It is often expensive and certainly a luxury item, but ‘tis the season to celebrate and maybe even splurge a little. For a truly decadent pairing, pick up a bottle of Krug Grand Cuvée and pair it with beluga caviar on blini, topped with a dollop of crème fraiche. Caviar can be ordered from your favourite fish merchant, and surprisingly, even from Amazon. Krug Grand Cuvée might set you back around $400 per bottle, but the caviar and Champagne combination is most assuredly a match made in heaven.
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