Your New Favorite Holiday Cocktail

kir-royale-3

Holiday libations should be three things: Easy. Festive. Not too strong.

Especially if you’re hosting.

It should be a drink that can be easily mixed for guests. If I’m muddling, mixing, shaking, straining, etc. all night long, I’m annoyed. I want something with two ingredients. Tops. But, the drink still needs to feel slightly special. I never discount a good glass of wine at a party, but a drink that feels more thoughtful makes everyone more festive. And as everyone knows, holiday drinking often lasts all night – pick something that can be sipped on without making people sloppy.

My gift to you – the Kir Royale.

Born in Burgundy, the Kir Royale is traditionally an apéritif. “Royale” is a variation of the original Kir – made with Aligoté (a bone, dry, acidic white wine) and Crème de Cassis (a sweet, black currant liqueur).

For a Kir Royale, the white wine is replaced with Champagne and you have yourself a fancy, festive, celebratory beverage.

The Recipe

Add a splash (about 1 tbsp) of Crème de Cassis to a wine glass or a Champagne flute, fill the rest with Champagne (or a dry white wine – if you’re going with a traditional Kir). Add a couple raspberries, a lemon twist or a sugared rim if you’re feeling extra festive.

Traditionally, the drink is made with a small amount of Crème de Cassis, giving it a light blush color and keeping it crisp and refreshing. Adding too much will give it a deep color and make it syrupy sweet.

If you want to make a Kir – use a dry, acidic white wine. Aligoté is preferable, but an unoaked Chardonnay will do just the trick.

Cheers to your new fav holiday cocktail.

Wings & Wine

chicken wings and wine

Beer is most likely your answer to football games.

But, if you’re watching a game with me, I’m drinking wine. And I’m going to try to convince you it’s the best choice for game day.

One of my favorite game day foods is wings. You think ice cold beer is the best option to wash them down. That’s because you haven’t found just the right wine.

This is my go-to wing recipe. They’re baked. Which is much easier than frying, but just as delicious.

Serve the Ginger Soy Wings with a bottle of bubbles and the Buffalo Wings with a fruity zinfandel.

With the Ginger Soy Wings, we drank the Treveri Cellars Blanc de Blancs Brut, a méthode champenoise sparkling from Washington state’s Yakima Valley.

These wings are sticky and sweet. A brut sparkling wine is perfect for pairing with the sugar. Bubbles are crisp and refreshing and a drier sparkling offsets the sweetness. The pear and apple flavors were great with the ginger and Asian flavors of these wings. And the bubbles cut through the stickiness to wash them down easily.  

With the Buffalo Wings, drink zinfandel. You do not want a big, tannic red, like a Cabernet Sauvignon. Those will do nothing to cool spicy foods. Zinfandel is lower in alcohol and less tannic, so it works with the spiciness.

This combo was like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with barbecue chips, a staple in my household growing up. Trust me on this one. The fruity and tangy, spice work together. You’ll get sweet and fruity on the front end and, then, tangy BBQ shocks your senses and gives you some real grit. Just like this zinfandel/buffalo wing combo.  

We drank the 2014 Predator Old Vine Zinfandel. It’s fruity, youthful and juicy. Serve it slightly chilled to further cool the spiciness of the wings.

Watching Sunday football is supposed to be relaxing, low-key and a little indulgent. Choose approachable, inexpensive bottles to drink with easy, informal game day foods. Keep the wines casual, food-friendly, and slightly chilled and you’ll find yourself guzzling wine all through the game.

Predator Old Vine Zinfandel
Vintage: 2014
Region: Lodi, California

Treveri Cellars “Blanc de Blancs” Brut
Vintage: NV
Region: Columbia Valley, Washington

Bubbles at the Top

Wine-Hikes

Ask most people, and their hiking drink of choice is water.

Not me.

Of course, H2O is a necessity while making your way to the top (or maybe not), but reaching the summit deserves a little reward. Some might say “the summit is the reward,” “the view at the top is the reward” or “it’s about the journey” or “(something else I don’t fully believe)”.

Because, I’m a firm believer that no celebration is complete without bubbles.

So hiking Rattlesnake Ledge this past weekend meant 375 ml Mionetto Prosecco made the journey too. And were consumed on the “ledge.”

It’s dry and fruity – pear, citrus, peach. I often worry that cheaper Prosecco will be cloyingly sweet, but this was not. It was refreshing and chuggable. It’s smaller, gentle bubbles mean it’s easier to gulp from the bottle when you’re parched from a long hike. It did not disappoint, which it easily could have since I waited an entire hike to drink it.

Take one on your next outdoor adventure and drink straight from the bottle, with glassware or a straw. Or drink it at home. Or at a friend’s house. Or any place. Any way you always deserve bubbly.

Mionetto Prosecco
Vintage: NV
Region: Prosecco D.o.c Di Treviso