Sparkling wine brings to mind festive occasions and celebrations. While it has traditionally been used in those circumstances, it is a very versatile and varied wine which can be enjoyed in many different situations. This month’s egg, ham and cheese recipe provides a great way to consider the range and versatility of our beloved bubbles.
The term sparkling wine refers to a broad category of wines with carbonation which includes Champagne from the Champagne region in France, Cava from Spain, Prosecco from Italy, Cremant from France, Sekt from Germany, and Sparkling Wine from California, New Mexico, Texas and England. Yes, even New Mexico, Texas and England. New Mexico and Texas have been producing small quantities of reasonably well-reviewed Sparkling Wines from grapes grown in some of their cooler, high-elevation locations. The southeast part of England shares very similar soil and weather conditions with Champagne and English vintners have recently been producing sparkling wines which have drawn considerable attention in the wine world.
Sparkling Wine can be produced across a very wide spectrum of sweetness which allows it to pair with everything from briny raw oysters to decadently rich desserts. The color and body are also quite variable depending on the grapes and production methods used. Your local wine merchant will be able to guide you to the right Sparkling Wine for your particular menu choices.
For the quiche cups in this month’s recipe I would pair a nice, dry local sparkler - there are some truly topnotch Sparkling Wines being produced in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties. The nice acid and fine bubbles from one of these wines will cut through the fattiness and richness in the eggs and cheese while the delicate fruit flavors in the wine will go well with the slight smokiness and salt in the ham. Another intriguing layer of complexity will emerge as the yeastiness of the wine dances with the depth of the green onion, thyme and black pepper. You could have some fun with these quiche cups by substituting the herb and spice components with a little red pepper flake, or rosemary, dill, or paprika, or truffle or…?
Make a few different versions of the quiche cups and chill a couple of different styles of sparkling wine, then enjoy comparing the different nuances expressed by their combinations. While you’re at it, raise a toast to finding more things to celebrate on a regular basis, and by extension, to enjoying more Sparkling Wine. Cheers!
Jeff James is the founder and co-owner, with his wife Judy, of Stony Point Vineyard and James Family Cellars. Their Cotati vineyard and winery have consistently produced award-winning wines. Jeff can be reached at info@JamesFamilyCellars.com or 707-548-2294. Visit their website at www.JamesFamilyCellars.com