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Carpe Vinum Holiday Traditions

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The theme for this month’s Carpe Vinum was Holiday Traditions. And by traditions I mean food. Old or new, culinary traditions are part of what makes the holiday season special. What we eat during the holidays is gift-wrapped comfort . . .

Alright.  So let’s get to the eating and drinking!

An appetizer plate of Candied BaconDeviled Eggs & Olive Cheese Balls paired with Tattinger Domaine Carneros Brut 2007
Appetizers are the life of the party.  Every party needs appetizers . . . you know, so you get full before dinner is served.

Candied Bacon you ask?  OMG, yes!  This stuff is crack.  You might not think you can eat an entire pound of bacon by yourself . . . but you can.  Trust me.

Deviled Eggs are one of my all-time favorites.  But I’m a purist — I like plain, basic Deviled Eggs.  Polluting a Deviled Egg with stuff like salmon, trout, wasabi or dill is a travesty.  These Deviled Eggs were perfectly plain.

Olive Cheese Balls are little balls of awesome!!  Green olives with pimentos wrapped in a cheesy dough pocket.  I could eat an entire jar of green olives by myself — wrapping them in cheese dough only makes them better.  Salty perfection!

The Wine . . .
May your days be merry and bright . . . and this sparkler is both!  Dry and clean . . . pears and apples.  Interesting note:  the back of the bottle specifically says this wine is Vegan. Can wine even be non-vegan?  12.9% ABV.  $22.

The Pairing . . . 
Absolute pairing perfection with the Deviled Eggs and the Olive Cheese Balls.  Salt + Bubbles = Bliss!  Maybe not quite perfection with the Candied Bacon (hello, sugar), but I’m eating crack and drinking Bubbles . . . what’s not to love??holly

Cheese Fondue paired with Bérêche & Fils Champagne Brut Reserve
Cheese Fondue is my very favorite food on the planet.  And Cheese Fondue isn’t just for Christmas.  It’s for President’s Day, Mother’s Day, Tax Day or Tuesday, too!  I’ve used the same Cheese Fondue recipe for the last 25 years (the link will take you to my recipe).

The Wine . . .
Oh, wow, is this Champagne dry.  Sippin’ cotton balls dry.  Delicious.  I can’t believe there’s an Extra Brut version of this Champagne, but there is.  Loaded with pear flavors.  Tart and yeasty.  Beautiful finish.  12% ABV.  $40.

The Pairing . . .
My go-to pairing for Cheese Fondue is Bubbles.  All kinds of Bubbles.  It’s practically foolproof.  And while this pairing is good, I think perhaps the über-dryness of this particular Champagne takes away a smidge from the fondue.  But not enough to keep me from eating it . . . or drinking the Champagne.


Arugula & Beet Salad with Grapefruit and Pistachios paired with Weingut Steininger Grüner Veltliner Loisium Reserve 2011
This salad is so pretty, I kinda don’t want to eat it.  So I’ll take a picture of it, and then I’ll eat it!  I love the contrast between the velvety beets, the tart grapefruit and the peppery arugula.  Delicioso!

The Wine . . .
Named after the architect who built the Loisium Museum in Langenlois, Austria.  Apple and yeast flavors dominate — kind of reminds me of a bubble-less Champagne.  Some white pepper on the finish adds texture.  Gorgeous.  14.9% ABV.  $24

The Pairing . . .
The salad definitely increases the perception of adidity in the wine, but a good match, nonetheless.  I’d love to try this salad with a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc — one with a zippy grapefruit profile.


Steak Chili paired with Four Vines Biker Zinfandel Paso Robles 2010
My girlfriend, Courtnie, is a heck of a cook, and her family’s tradition is Steak Chili on Christmas Eve.  But like so many of us at this time of year, Courtnie was having one of those days last week at Carpe Vinum.  We’ve all been there.  We’ve all done that.  Tis the season for chaos!  And so with no time to cook, Courtnie shared one of the best kept secrets in easy-peasy meals:  Safeway.  Yes, we’re eating Safeway Steak Chili.  And let me tell you something . . . this stuff is really good!!

The Wine . . .
Technically a blend — 8% Grenache, 6% Tannat, 5% Mourvedre, 3% Syrah, and 2% Petite Sirah.  So what’s that leave?  76% Zinfandel?  Giant jar of jam!!  Huge blackberry flavors, followed by black pepper and a little black olive.  14.8% ABV.  $20.  

The Pairing . . .
Zinfandel and Chili is always a reliable pairing.  The massive fruit in a Zin balances the spice of the chili.  And this Zin is “only” 14.8% ABV, so the chili doesn’t blow the lid off the heat in the wine.  I’m still a beer girl when it comes to chili . . . but Zin is the next best thing!


German Rouladen & Spatzle paired with Frei Brothers Reserve Pinot Noir RRV 2011
Rouladen is a German dish known for it’s simple, but rich flavors.  It’s a thin slice of beef, rolled up with onions, bacon and pickles, and braised in a beef gravy.  It’s wunderbar!  The link is very close to my girlfriend’s recipe.  The only real change would be to add chopped sweet gherkin pickles to the onion and bacon before you roll them up!  Oh, and sprinkle with toasted panko breadcrumbs.  The panko gives the dish a VERY interesting texture!!

The Wine . . .
A fruity Pinot Noir . . . more to the pomegranate and cherry than any funk.  And I’m a funk girl.  A pleasant, easy to drink wine, but nothing that inspires deep-thinking.  14% ABV.  $23.

The Pairing . . .
The Pinot is maybe a little delicate for the Rouladen.  It’s kind of like Oscar de la Hoya stepping into the ring with Mike Tyson.  An interesting, but ultimately uneven match.  I do wonder, though, how a German Spätburgunder would fare with the Rouladen.

White & Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding with Bailey’s Irish Cream Sauce paired with Jorge Moreira – Sophie Bergqvist Passagem Porto Tawny 2013
This dessert is an Ode to Joy!  It’s bread pudding with gooey, melty white and dark chocolate bits, drizzled with a Bailey’s Irish Cream sauce.  I was BEYOND full, but I ate this anyway. My girlfriend, Kari, puts that phenomenon best — “I’m full, but my dessert compartment is empty.”

The Wine . . .
I adore Port.  This one is chocolate covered cherries, honey and almonds, with a hint of tobacco leaves.  Mmmm.  Bonus:  you can do something crafty with that pretty, empty bottle!  $25.

The Pairing . . .
I’m not sure you could have a bad pairing for this dish.  Well, Sauvignon Blanc would probably curl your eyelashes . . . but the Port is perfect.  I love it with the white and dark chocolate duo.

I hope you enjoyed our Carpe Vinum Holiday Traditions.  Happiest of Holidays from my house to yours!

Next month’s Carpe Vinum:  Under the Radar Wine Regions.


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