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Tag Archives: Bubbles

Holiday Bubbles for January Birthdays

Oh, those pesky January birthdays. They are always overshadowed by the holiday season that precedes them. Family and friends are partied out from New Year’s Eve, Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, and other holidays that span from November through the first of January. The earlier in the month, the worse it is.

Robyn and I are both January babies. My birthday falls mid-month, while Robyn’s is at the beginning, just days after New Year’s Day. When I was a kid, my birthday was always disappointing. Sure, my parents tried to make it special. I had parties, outings to pizza parlors, and all the usual kid-birthday adventures. Nevertheless, the general rule was, toys and cool stuff on Christmas; socks, pants, and shirts on my birthday. What self-respecting 8 year old kid looks forward to a new pair of jeans?

As Robyn recounts, family birthday dinners were the norm, but parties not so much. With an early January birthday, school was still out for the winter holiday, so she missed out on the schoolroom buzz and excitement. So often her friends were out of town or otherwise spending the post-holiday season with their families.

So, what do you do when you have a January birthday? How do you compensate for living in the shadow of such major, resource-depleting holidays? You celebrate your birthday for six to eight weeks, starting with Thanksgiving! When fortune shone on us, and we were offered samples of four sparkling wines this past fall, we knew exactly what to do. As we popped the corks throughout the season, we toasted and celebrated our upcoming birthdays.

As you can see from the photos, we didn’t just limit ourselves to birthday celebrations on the high holidays. Some of the nights, we were more spontaneous and busted out the birthday bubbles with a mid-week meal.

We hope you enjoy sharing our birthday celebrations in the images below. The wines were samples. We received no other compensation. All opinions and review notes are our own.

For our first birthday celebration, we opened a Paul Cheneau Cava Reserva Blanc de Blancs Brut, and paired it with sautéed cilantro-lime shrimp and a spinach salad for a mid-week meal.

 

 

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Paul Cheneau Cava Reserva Blanc de Blancs Brut

Golden color in the flute. Vigorous tiny bubbles tickle the nose. Aromas of apricot, yeast, and nutty notes. Flavors of pear, yellow apple, almond, and hints of tangerine and pineapple with soft vanilla notes on the finish. Super dry and crisp; a very refreshing Cava that paired very well with sautéed cilantro-lime shrimp and a spinach salad with bacon-vinegar dressing.

When we opened the second bottle, a Valdo Prosecco Brut, Christmas season was in full swing. The halls were decked, the Christmas music playing, and it was finally cold enough in NorCal to light a fire in the fireplace. Time for wrapping gifts, and popping some bubbles!

 

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Valdo Prosecco Brut

Bright golden color. A steady stream on tiny bubbles rises to the rim. Aromas of ripe apricot and tangerine. On the palate there are flavors of apricot, pear, apple, and hints of citrus, along with notes of yeast and almond. Lively acidity makes this quite refreshing and light. A perfect pairing with gift wrapping, whether Christmas or January birthday gifts.

On Christmas day, it was time for something French. My parents were visiting, and loved the idea of combining Christmas and birthday, and celebrating with a lovely Rosé sparkler. (Wait, maybe they just thought it would get them out of buying me a birthday present.) To honor the day, and to get the celebration started, we popped the cork on a Côte Mas Cremant De Limoux Brut Rosé St. Hilaire.

 

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Côte Mas Cremant De Limoux Brut Rosé St. Hilaire

Salmon color in the glass. An abundance of tiny bubbles flow from the bottle and carry on in the glass. Aromas of strawberry and rose petals. On the palate there are flavors of raspberry, strawberry, red currant, and cotton candy. Creamy mouthfeel and bright acidity lead to a crisp, bright, red-fruit finish. Perfect with Christmas toasts, or birthday celebrations.

With Christmas behind us, our sights now turned to New Year’s Eve. International Champagne Day. Naturally, we’d want to ring in 2018 with genuine champagne, right? Wrong! Robyn’s birthday was just days away, and we decided to save the bubbles from the most famous sparkling region in the world for her special day. Instead, we headed over to our local wine shop and picked up a domestic brut to toast the New Year.

Finally, the time came to celebrate a January birthday on its actual day. Dinner reservations at a local, romantic restaurant made, we chilled a bottle of Barons de Rothschild Champagne Brut to bring with us and toast to another year of life. The hostess was kind enough hold our champagne we stopped in the bar for a pre-birthday-dinner cocktail.

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When we took our seats at our dining table, our bottle was waiting for us in an ice bucket. Our server expertly released the cork, and also did double-duty as birthday photographer!

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Barons de Rothschild Champagne Brut

Golden straw color. Soft fruit aromas of floral, apricot and pear. On the palate there are flavors of yellow apple, Bartlett pear, apricot, and cream. Bright acidity and vigorous bubbles liven the tongue. The finish is stone fruit with hints of elderflower, almond, and cream. The perfect sparkler to celebrate a January birthday!

The champagne was the perfect accompaniment to our evening, and it was excellent with my seared-scallop risotto. To end the evening, the pastry chef even wrote “Happy Birthday” in chocolate on the plate with our crème brulee.

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Do you have a January birthday? Let us know in the comments how you like to celebrate to ensure your day isn’t lost in the holiday fervor.

Cheers!

  • By Kent Reynolds & Robyn Raphael

 

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Life in a Bubble – #MWWC27

bubble-724x499It’s that time again! The Monthly Wine Writing Challenge!

Monthly Wine Writing Challenge

The theme for #MWWC27 is “Bubbles.” Like probably every other person out there in the blogosphere, my mind immediately went to Champagne, or any other sparkling wine. There are many to choose from; Cava, Prosecco, Cremant, California Sparkling, and so on. Then, like probably every other wine writer out there, I thought: “too obvious; everybody will be writing about that.” Ah, but then again, like Vizzini, from The Princess Bride (only the best movie ever made), perhaps I can outwit my opponents by doing exactly what they expect me to do!

But lest I get involved in a land war in Asia (watch the clip, it’ll make sense), I decided to write from what I know and let the words flow as they may. This is a decision made largely due to the fact that I have not a lot of experience with wines that tickle the nose. You see, many members of my family get headaches after drinking sparkling wine, so I don’t often buy it. We can debate whether the bubbles cause the headaches, or that they result from some other cause. The fact remains that sparkling wine rarely makes an appearance in my home. I do try to keep a bottle of Prosecco or Cava on hand for those unexpected special occasions, or a spontaneous brunch in need of a Mimosa, but that’s about it.

So what is there to say about bubbles, then? Life.

We humans are a predictable lot. We like routine, and take comfort in the familiar. We take the same route to work every day. We shop at the same stores, and eat at the same restaurants, because we know what to expect. I even know people who will order the same thing off a menu every time they go to a particular restaurant. They don’t like change, or trying new things. We like to live our lives in big, comfortable, predictable bubbles. Boring! Yet many people approach wine in the same way.

While there are at least 10,000 grape varieties in the world, realistically about 1,300 are used in commercial wine production. So why, then, do so many people “only drink Chardonnay”? Or Cabernet Sauvignon? Or Pinot Noir? Because that is the comfort bubble in which they live. They know what to expect. They are predictable. These people are really missing out! There is so much variety out there; so many flavors to experience and enjoy, why limit yourself?

I love variety. When I go to a favorite restaurant, I like to try different things each time. It’s the same with wine. Sure, I have my favorite, go-to varietals, but why limit oneself? century_club_sealI love variety! Sure, a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon will pair with my steak, but what about a Chilean Carménère? Shall I open a familiar Sauvignon Blanc this warm summer evening, or a different and exciting Grüner Veltliner? I recently submitted my application to the Wine Century Club. Yes, it’s a real thing! All you have to do for membership is try at least 100 different varietals. And you know what? Blends count! It’s really not that daunting a challenge, if you are willing to get out of your bubble and try new things.

Life bubbles are limiting; restricting. They only allow you to experience what is within reach and safe. I encourage you to step out of your bubble and try something new. The next time you are in your local wine shop, or better yet, the unfamiliar wine shop in the next town over, instead of reaching for that familiar bottle of Chateau Drink Often, try something adventurous and new. This is my challenge: Explore. Experience. Enjoy life outside your bubble.