Who doesn’t love wine parties? They are a fantastic way to learn about wine, and wine for food. With that in mind, we bring you Wine Party of the Month, monthly articles detailing wine and food menus for your next get together. We recommend wines by category since you are likely to find similar options at your local wine shop in a range of prices. Recipes are included, and many courses can also be purchased. Grab your friends, take our recommendations, and throw your own Wine Party of the Month!
It’s Mardi Gras! That means parades and carnivals from the Epiphany (Three Kings Day) on January 6, to Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, which this year falls on February 28. “Mardi Gras,” the French term for Fat Tuesday, is named for the fattening food traditionally eaten on on this last day of Mardi Gras, the day before Lent begins.
Since Mardi Gras is most famously celebrated in New Orleans, this month’s wine party features the cuisine of the Bayou paired with festive bubbles. And since Fat Tuesday often encourages overindulgence, we’ve kept the wine prices low. So go ahead, drink lots of bubbles.
Crémant d’Alsace is one of wine’s best-kept secrets. This very special wine is like buying Champagne for Prosecco prices. In fact, Crémant d’Alsace is a sparkling wine, made in the traditional Champagne method, in the French region of Alsace (east of Champagne, on the northern border with Germany). Its bubbles are deliciously tight, but less effervescent than in Champagne, and born in the bottle. Flavors range with age from tart apple to yeasty. It’s high in acid, sans tannin, and often bone dry. All of this is very similar to Champagne, except that a bottle of Crémant d’Alsace retails for $20. Now that is something to celebrate.
What You Need to know About Crémant d’Alsace
• The word “Crémant” originated in Champagne, and refers to wines slightly less sparkling than traditional Champagne, made in the méthode traditionnelle, outside of the Champagne region.
• Crémant d’Alsace is usually made with Pinot Blanc grapes, but can also be made with Pinot Gris, Riesling, Auxerrois or Chardonnay.
• Rosé Crémant d’Alsace is always 100% Pinot Noir.
• Fresh, bright, tart, high acid, no tannin, usually bone dry
• French wine regions with Crémants include Alsace, Bordeaux, Bourgogne/Burgundy, Clairette de Die in the Rhône Valley, Jura, Limoux in Languedoc, the Loire Valley, and Savoie/Savoy.
• Festive, elegant, a bargain, and great for parties
Wine Party of the Month Menu
For this party, all the wines go with all the foods. Mix, match, and have fun. It is Mardi Gras after all.
WINE: Blanc de Blancs
Blanc de Blancs just means white wine made from white grapes. For those new to wine, this may seem obvious, but white wine can also be made from red grapes. The Blanc de Blancs we have chosen pair particularly well with food. Each is bone dry and has a good bit of acid. This, plus the effervescent bubbles, makes these wines a perfect palate cleanser. And hold onto your party hat because you’ll find that the tartness of these wines kicks up the spiciness of our recommended dishes. You’ll want to keep the cornbread close.
Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Brut Blanc de Blancs (Pasternak Wine Imports, $20)
Taste this wine for its green apple and pineapple tartness with tight bubbles. It brightens those traditional New Orleans flavors.
Dopff & Irion Crémant d’Alsace Brut (Dreyfus, Ashby & Co., $20)
The standout of this wine is its citrus in the heart of its bubbles. Discover flavors like lemon in the background of the traditional Crémant d’Alsace tart green apple. These flavors act as an enlivening seasoning to the collard greens and gumbo.
Everyone likes pink bubbles. In the case of Crémant d’Alsace, rosé sparkling has to be 100% Pinot Noir by law. Those Pinot Noir flavors of earth and spice lend themselves beautifully to this menu, especially the jambalaya and red beans.
Dopff & Irion Crémant d’Alsace Rosé (Dreyfus, Ashby & Co., $20)
With an aroma of rose petals and a pretty pink color, this wine speaks party. It tastes of tart, fresh berries and a hint of onion skin for a balanced exploration of Crémant d’Alsace rosé.
Cave de Ribeauville Giersberger Crémant d’Alsace Pinot Noir Rosé Brut (Golden Ram Imports, $15)
The beauty of this wine is its complexity within the framework of Crémant d’Alsace. Its dynamic perfumy nose backs up red apple flavors and lingering yeast in your mouth. It’s the closest in flavor to Champagne of those we tried.
If you aren’t in the mood to cook, a version of these dishes can usually be carried out.
Watch below to see our favorite easy jambalaya recipe paired with our most complex pink bubbles. Did you have a favorite Crémant d’Alsace pairing? Let us know on @Wine_4_Food on Instagram and Twitter!