Sparkling Wine Pairings for New Year’s Eve

We’re just a few days away from the start of 2015. It seems like holding a glass of something sparkling is a New Year’s Eve (NYE) essential. Midnight toasts are almost as traditional as exchanging a kiss with a loved one to bring in the new year.

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NYE is actually one of my favorite of the winter holidays. I always get a little emotional reviewing the prior year, and thinking about goals for the upcoming year. Some people might say that NYE is just another day, but for me, it’s so much more special than that. Which is why I always love putting together a nice meal for my family and friends, complete with delicious sparkling wine pairings.

Classic Champagne

Technically, to be called a champagne the grapes used in a wine must be from the Champagne region of France. We currently have a deal on Champagnes for 2015 on our site, which includes premium upgrades like bottles of Nicolas Feuillate Brut Champagne Cuvée Palmes d’Or.

The specific food you’ll want to pair with your champagne will depend on the specific bottle you serve. However, in general champagnes pair well with sea food.

Sparkling Rose

I actually prefer a nice sparkling rose to traditional champagne. Typically rose wines will have a more fruity and even berry like essence that lends to pairing with salty/savory dishes.

I really love serving sparkling rose with a cheesy dish, like a made-from-scratch baked macaroni and cheese, or cheesy potato mash (pictured below).

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Making a cheese potato mash is dead simple. Peel and boil potatoes, then mash with butter, milk, and hefty pinches of kosher salt and pepper. Just before serving stir in freshly grated, aged white cheddar.

Sparkling Brut

A classic sparkling brut is a blend of chardonnay and pinot noir wines. The more subtle flavor pairs well with acidic appetizers, like cooked tomatoes. I recently had a dinner where I served sparkling brut alongside mini biscuits baked inside tomatoes, and it was a resounding hit!

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Start with your favorite biscuit recipe, and while the dough is resting in your refrigerator cut the tops and bottoms of half a dozen roma tomatoes. Then cut each tomato in half, and scoop out the insides. Cut out small circles from your biscuit dough, and press them into the tomato cups. Sprinkle with dried basil and sea salt, then bake at 425 degrees fahrenheit for about 10 minutes.

Desserts with Bubbles

To finish a NYE meal, I like to serve a sweeter sparkling riesling. It will usually have notes of citrus and honey, which I think always pairs well with lemon desserts like a lemon meringue pie or lemon bars.

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What are you planning to serve this NYE? Leave a comment below, or send us an @ reply on Twitter, and have a happy New Year!

Announcing the Winner of our SatnaCon Photo Contest

Photo credit: Susan Mallon via Facebook

Last weekend we announced our SantaCon photo contest, and over the weekend we received plenty of awesome entries.

We’re excited to announce that our team has selected the picture above from Susan Mallon as our winner! Susan will be given a $250 virtual Underground Cellar gift card, which she can use to buy wine for her friends who helped make her awesome shot.

Happy Holidays from the Underground Cellar team!

Hanukkah Wine Pairing Tips

This evening marks the official start of Hanukkah 2014. Although everyone has their own unique traditions, my family and friends will usually do a big Hanukkah dinner on whatever night happens to fall on a convenient weekend day. So in preparation for our Hanukkah potluck this Sunday evening, I’ve been working on planning out my wine pairings.

Like most other holiday meals, Hanukkah dinners usually feature a wide variety of flavors which can make wine pairing less stressful in my opinion. Why? Because with so many different dishes it’s impossible to find a single wine that goes with all items on the menu. So instead, get a couple of good wines that pair really well with a few items, and enjoy your holiday meal!

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Wine and Challah

I love making challah, even if just for a Friday night dinner, so I never miss an opportunity to bust out a challah for Hanukkah. Check out my traditional challah recipe here, or if you want something a little different try these challah dinner roles.

Challah is a sweet, eggy bread, and it goes with most wines. I’d recommend selecting a wine based on what you’re serving with the challah. For instance, I usually put out apricot jam and a nice merlot.

Cheese Plate Pairings

Eating cheese is a Hanukkah tradition in celebration of Judith. When it comes to wine pairings, you have unlimited options.

This year I’ll be putting out a cheese plate with a few semi-hard, medium-aged cheeses (like havarti, or jarlsberg). They pair perfectly with pinot noirs.

We currently have a great deal on primo pinot noir wines from King Estate, Anderson Valley, Wedell Cellars, and Littorai Roman vineyards. Though wines ordered today probably won’t arrive before the end of Hanukkah, you can get a couple of bottles now so they’re ready next time you want to serve a semi-hard cheese plate.

Lots of Latkes

Latkes are another traditional Hanukkah dinner staple. The most important part is frying the latkes in oil, so you can feel free to get creative with your recipe. I prefer low-carb latkes made from daikon, celery root, and jicama, but go with whatever recipe you prefer!

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I recommend pairing a nice sparkling wine with your latkes. The bubbles and acid cut through the fat from the frying, which means it will pair well with any fried donuts you might be serving later in the meal.

Roasted Root Veggies

Though not a traditional Hanukkah dish, I really love serving roasted root veggies. Parsnips are my favorite, and they’re crazy easy to make.

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I really like pairing a nice Italian barbera wine with roasted fall vegetables, but if you’re going with a really sweet veggie blend (like carrots or radishes) then you might want to serve a riesling.

Hanukkah Cookies

This year, I’m also planning to bring cookies to the Hanukkah potluck.

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You can make your favorite sugar or shortbread cookie dough, the key is finding good Hanukkah themed cookie cutters and dedicating a few hours to decorating. Check out tips here.

I like to close out a Hanukkah party with a little more sparkling wine, especially if you’re also serving sugary cookies.

What’s your favorite wine to serve during a Hanukkah dinner? Leave a reply to let us know, or connect with us on Twitter.