All that sparkles is not always Champagne

For that important toast or prior to a reception, Champagne or sparkling wine is a tradition enjoyed by everyone.

But not all that a sparkle – or bubbles – is necessarily Champagne. For a bubbly wine to be called “Champagne,” it must hail form the Champagne region of France and meet that country’s requirements for labeling. Al other bubbles from around thchardgrapese world carry their own designation.

 

For that important toast or prior to a reception, Champagne or sparkling wine is a tradition enjoyed by everyone.

But not all that a sparkle – or bubbles – is necessarily Champagne. For a bubbly wine to be called “Champagne,” it must hail form the Champagne region of France and meet that country’s requirements for labeling. Al other bubbles from around the world carry their own designation.

In America, bubbly wines are called “sparkling wines.” Italy has its own highly effervescent wines in “Prosecco,” and from Spain comes delicious and fizzy “Cava.”

And if you venture away from the Motherland of bubbles – France – you’re likely to find great tasting sparklers and much better values.

Our friend Tim Rutherford of Savannafoodie.com, has written about wine for more than decade and has a great bottom line thought on bubbles:

“I would much rather have an amazing bottle of Prosecco or Cava – or a superb American sparkling wine – than a bargain basement French Champagne.”

With that in mind, let’s take a look at each style – but first, let’s go in armed with some basic knowledge.

On Champagne in particular and other bubblies generally, there will be some indication on the label as to level of sweetness. You’re like to see these phrases – and here’s what it means:

Brut less than 15 gram of sugar per liter (dry, this is the typical style of Champagne with no sweetness) Extra-Dry 12-20 gram of sugar per liter (still dry with a hint of sweetness or slightly sweet)
Sec 17-35 gram of sugar per liter (medium sweet)
Demi-Sec 33-55 gram of sugar per liter (sweet)

The level you choose is up to you and your specific tastes. Brut is the most common Champagne chosen for a toast – but it is necessarily required that a toast Champagne be dry. Remember, it’s your special day – drink what you enjoy.

Sparkling wines are typically made from one of three grape varieties – or a blend of these varieties. Each grape has its role:

Pinot Noir adds body, structure, aroma, and a complexity of flavors.

Pinot Meunier contributes fruitiness, floral aromas, and character.

Chardonnay gives freshness, delicacy, elegance, and finesse. For this reason, many producers make a blanc de blancs (Chardonnay) Champagne.

American Sparkling Wines

Most grape growing regions of the US have winemakers who produce a sparkling wine. For those that are closest to French style look for producers who utilize “method champenoise.” This means the process used for fermenting, aging and bottling follows traditional French practices.

Some of our favorites include:

Iron Horse: Based in Sonoma County, California, Iron Horse is known for a long history of producing some of America’s most celebrated sparkling wines – including the sparkling wine that was used to toast the historic Reagan-Gorbachev Summit Meetings ending the Cold War. However, its “Wedding Cuvee” marks those special days – and anniversaries – more than any of its labels. This is Iron Horse’s Blanc de Noirs, made from predominantly Pinot Noir.

Gruet: The Gruet family has made Champagne in France for decades – but with this property near Truth or Consequence, New Mexico, produces still wines and sparkling wines from the highest elevation vineyard in North America. A large variety of vintage and non-vintage sparklers are produced, including some made with other grapes. Our favorite is Gruet NV Demi Sec – subtle fruity aromas and the freshness of the Demi-Sec drives the character of this light bodied, semi-dry sparkling wine. The palate carries through with a creamy sensation and vivid flavor of green apples, ripe pears, pineapple and a hint of mineral.

wolfmt3Destination only bubbles: If a destination wedding is in your plans, explore having your wedding on-site at an area winery – most use this alternate revenue stream as a way to bolster their wine business. For example, in North Georgia, Wolf Mountain Vineyard has a stunning, mountainside wedding pavilion and makes a variety of sparkling wines sold on-site only. The family uses method champenoise for all of its bubbles.

Prosecco

Italian sparkling wines are the domain of a handful of producers from the country’s famed Veneto region. Prosecco is a white wine that is generally dry or extra dry wine. It is normally made from the Glera grape – although some producers refer to the grape as “Prosecco.”

Labels to look for include:

bisolproperty

Bisol: This prominent family has been making wine around Valdobbiadene for more than five centuries. They produce a wide range – and wide price range – of Prosecco. All are delicious and representative of the region.

Carpene: Carpenè Malvolti Prosecco di Conegliano Extra Dry won a Gold Medal at the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2012. This wine is the epitome of how fine Prosecco Spumante should be: Fresh, dry, lively and deliciously grape-scented.

Cava

Spain is recognized for the great wine values it is currently producing – and its Cava is no exception.

Most Cava is produced in Catalonia – it may be white (blanco) or rosé(rosado). Only wines produced method champenoise may be labelled cava, those produced by other processes may only be called “sparkling wines” (vinos espumosos).

Labels we’ve sampled include:

Vega Barcelona: This producer’s Cava Brut Reserve is made from three Spanish grape varieties; this stunning sparkler serves up aromas and flavors of red delicious apple, pear, citrus and crème brulee.

Vinos Libre: Ya Cuvee 23 Reserva Cava is a fresh, clean Cava with a great nose, solid minerality, elegant mouth feel and a soft fresh lemon finish with very persistent bubbles.

Cheers!

Regardless of your choice – Champagne, American Sparkling Wine, Prosecco or Cava – all should be served well-chilled in flutes to show off the beautiful bubbles that dance to the surface.

When ‘Eating In” Makes Perfect Sense

As a business owner, you’ve invested a significant part of your capital in bricks and mortar. Whether you own your space or lease, you’ve no doubt created a meeting space that’s impressive to customers, comfortable to use and welcoming on an everyday basis.

officelunchSo when you have special office occasions – holiday parties, retirements, the celebration of an outstanding sales quarter – why go out to an impersonal restaurant when the restaurant can come to the place you’re the most at home – in your office meeting space.
Sure, you can do it yourself. That strategy seems to be the most relaxed and economical, but think about past office shindigs – does this sound familiar?
Hey, did somebody sign up to bring ice?
This cake looks great! Do you think we can cut it with a letter opener?
All of the crockpots tripped the breaker – all of the food is cold!
Keep your paper plates for dessert – we just have enough for everyone to have ONE!
A full-on office soiree or casual lunch is far more than just food. The event calls for paper goods, plates, utensils, condiments. Food has to be kept hot – or cold. In the end, it all has to clean up quickly and efficiently – time is money!
Here at Cape Creations Catering, delivering the office lunch is one of our specialties. From simple to more elaborate – we can meet your office meal needs in a variety of ways:

Box lunches: This style of office lunch allows us to be a little more flexible in the creation of a L”lunch box.” From deli sandwiches to pitas, roll-ups to kabobs – part of the fun in lunch boxes is popping open the top to find a surprisingly delicious lunch inside. Add a cup of soup, a pasta salad or cup of fruit for variety. Of course, every box needs a sweet treat – cookies, cake or mini pudding? Lunch boxes can be all-inclusive – food, utensils, condiments and a box that serves as a “plate.” Add beverage service and the work is done. Clean up is easy.

Self-serve trays: Disposable platters are easy to clean up and provide office diners the chance to assemble a plate of their choosing. Platters can be all cold, deli-style offerings or a combination of hot meats and cold sides. Again don’t forget the tray of cookies! We provide paper goods and disposable serving utensils.

Hot Line: Lunch is by far the most popular catered affair – but we do breakfast as well. Here’s where a hot line really brings a rib-sticking treat to your co-workers. Disposable service pans stay sealed and piping hot until you’re ready to eat and then open to reveal, eggs, breakfast meats, grits, roasted potatoes – you dream it, we can do it.. An inclusive breakfast casserole, biscuits and fresh fruit makes a popular breakfast self-serve line. Hot lunches can be as close as the conference room and may encompass a variety of menus – from simple soup and sandwich to more elaborate meat and three combinations.

And remember, catered lunches aren’t just a treat for your staff. Your best customers will feel like royalty when you treat their office staff to catered lunch. Show your appreciation for their business with a stress-free office breakfast or lunch.

 

Guests Won’t Squawk When Served a Moist, Tender Recipe With Bone-in Chicken

Fish can be fragile. Beef can be expensive – and more and more people are eating less red meat. Pork runs afoul of personal lifestyles.

But chicken…chicken can rule the roost for your special event.

The obvious go-to for chicken is the boneless chicken breast. As popular as the choice may be, it’s not without its own problems when being prepared for a crowd.

First, some history.chickendish

The boneless breast came about, in part, because it was quick to prepare. Busy restaurant chefs could give the chicken pieces a quick sear on each side then finish in a hot oven in just a few minutes. When prepared properly, this is the ideal application.

But your party of 50 – or more – cannot be served made-to-order chicken breasts. For large parties, we must think about keeping food hot, keeping meat moist and tender and delivering lots of flavor plate after plate.

The boneless chicken breast is not at its best when prepared in quantity. It tends to dry out – even when held in sauce. Plus, bone-in chicken has much more flavor than boneless breast filets.

Choosing chicken to save money is the right idea. According to price statistics from the National Chicken Council, the retail price of chicken can be just one-third the price of a comparable cut of pork and a whopping 75 percent less than beef.

So what are your options to serve chicken, save money and get the best dish possible?

Work with your professional caterer on braised chicken dishes, chicken in sauces or stews and always choose bone-in pieces. Use dark meat – thighs and legs – when possible because these higher fat pieces bring even more flavor to the table. These cooking methods will keep the chicken at its best – and allow you to introduce some international flavors to your event.

Recipe ideas

Chicken Tagine: This savory dish can use all pieces of the chicken – dark and white meat. The traditional Middle Eastern preparation incorporates rich flavors of the Med – lemon, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, parsley and cilantro. It’s a dish that is loaded with flavor and colorful variety.

Chicken Cacciatore: This rustic, Italian-inspired chicken dish can use all parts of the chicken and brings together flavors of Tuscany: Tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, oregano and basil. This dish offers an easy and affordable wine paring option – Sangiovese or Chianti work just fine and are great values right now.

Coq au Vin: This classic French dish is a crowd pleaser for both its simplicity and its flavors. Literally “chicken in wine,” the dish marries earthy ingredients like thyme, mushrooms and pearl onions with a rich wine sauce to produce chicken pieces that are moist, tender and delicious.

Braised Chicken with Wine and Oranges: The tangy oranges in this dish blend with the sweet Muscatel wine to create a Spanish sweet-and-sour chicken. Spain is also the source of some great wine values – and this dish pairs perfectly with the popular Spanish red wine grape Tempranillo.

Beer-Braised Chicken Stew with Fava Beans and Peas: This is a perfect foundation dish for parties where there are plenty of craft beer fans. Onions, mushrooms, herbs and spices ramp up the flavor in this hearty chicken stew – that can be make only with chicken thighs. Compliment the dish with beer like a Belgian-style ale.

 

A DIY Bar Can Be Fun

Handling kitchen duties can be overwhelming for the host of a special event. That’s where caterers come in – we work on-site or prepare off-site and deliver to your home or special event venue.

Tackling bartender duties isn’t so stressful and may be a way for you express yourself and save a few bucks at your next special event. Here are some ideas for your bar needs:

a diy barExplore discounts: Most wine shops and package stores offer case discounts on every 12 bottles – and some offer a discount on just six bottles. If it’s wine crowd and the party is going for three hours, plan on nearly one bottle per guest – that’s one drink an hour. Also, work in advance with your package or wine store operator and ask them to seek out any special deals for you. Lots of wine comes to market that never sees shelf time – and many of those are bargain bottles that are just right for a large crowd.

Ask guests to pitch in: Some wine and package shops have gift registries. Instead of getting overloaded with another toaster, create a wine and liquor gift registry and let your guests pick up the tab for your favorite beverages.

Mix in bulktequila: You don’t want to be tied to bar-tending duties any more than you want to slave over a hot stove. Some cocktails mix well in bulk and guests can self-serve from a container with a spigot. You don’t have to be an expert mixologist to put together these recipes. And, mixing in bulk allows you to use less expensive brands of liquor and mixers bought in bulk at warehouse or discount stores.

Some ideas include:

 

Manhattan (Serve over ice in small rocks glass, makes 38 oz)
750 ml rye whiskey
10 oz sweet vermouth
3 oz dry vermouth
Garnish with Luxardo cherries

Whiskey or Vodka Mule (Serve over ice in small rocks glass, make 85 oz)
1 liter Vodka OR bourbon
11 oz lime juice
40 dashes of Angostura bitters
40 oz ginger beer
Garnish with lime wheels

ironhorseDon’t get hung up on labels: If you are serving champagne cocktails, don’t get all hung up on the label – after all, your bubbly is about to get diluted with juice or some other mixer. Set aside that special bottle to be shared by the bride and groom – or bridal party – and use the less expensive bubbles for mixers and guests. Consider the options of sparkling wines from the US, Cava from Spain or Prosecco from Italy – you may just get more bang for your buck with bubbles from outside of France!

Beer bliss: If you are among the growing number of craft beer enthusiasts you probably know a home brewer or two. Ask your favorite homebrewer to craft a special “wedding ale” for your event. It’s a way for the brewer to show off his skills and for you to have a remarkable and one-of-a-kind beer for your event.

Measure, monitor: While no one wants to get serious at a party – you are serving alcohol and by doing so assume the risk as host. To keep consumption – and expense – in check, use small glasses or cups, make plenty of ice available for cocktails and consider cutting off alcohol service an hour or so before the party ends. Offer coffee soft drinks and water. Lastly, don’t let guests who have had too much to drink get behind the wheel. Call a cab – or arrange to have drivers available to take home guests who have had too much to drink.