Are you looking for a food and wine column that’s fun to read with wine suggestions that you can easily afford?
Then check back each Friday for our next edition of “Wine Down for the Weekend.” Read on for an easy-to-prepare-at-home no-need-for-a-recipe fabulous dinner paired with an affordable bottle of wine and a viewing suggestion. We’re here to help you sit back, wine down and chill.
Spring has arrived
It’s Spring! Hooray!
I saw a hint of yellow at the top of my daffodil greens earlier today. Finally, the flowers and warm weather are on their way.
Today, we’re going to that happy place as we transition from the cold, bleak winter into a season of hope. On the menu? Happiness.
First, since bubbles make everyone cheer, we’ll begin here. Second, we’ll match those bubbles up with some ooey-gooey mac’n’cheese, but we’ll do it grown-up style. Third, we’ll watch something that is in keeping with our happy theme. The Breakfast Club will definitely give you all the feels.
Here we go, cheers to happiness! Let’s wine down and chill.
What to drink
I love bubbles. And all things bubbly. Because bubbles make me happy, I love champagne, cava, and prosecco wines. Not to mention bubble baths, bubble gum, and bubly sparkling water. I choose bubbles whenever I can’t have glitter!
Cava is today’s featured wine. This is the Spanish version of champagne, which hails only from France. Wine Enthusiast rates this 2015 Segura Viudas NV Brut Sparkling bargain find at 87 points. This particular brut is a cuvée, which means that is a blend of different wines. Specifically, this brut is composed of three different green-skinned grapes in varying proportions: 50% Macabeo, 35% Parellada, and 15% Xarello.
You may have better luck finding the 2018 vintage. Wine & Spirits scored it 89 points. Moreover, Wine Enthusiast recommended it as one of the Top 100 wines to buy in 2018. The 2015 and 2018 vintages are priced around $14/bottle whereas the other years are priced from $10-12/bottle. At these price points, Segura Viudas makes it easy to wine down and chill with some world-class cava.
Consider the upgrade
Upgrade your wine selection by choosing the Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad Cava Brut. Grapes harvested over various years are combined, which makes this wine a “non-vintage.” As a result, it tastes even better: Wine & Spectator rates it at 92 points. This Reserva is aged for more than 30 months which is also different from the entry-level brut cava. Priced at $30/bottle, it’s a fabulous find.
Chill your cava: not to the ice-cube levels that I ‘fessed up to in last week’s column, but they do need to be cold. This wine is still highly aromatic despite the chilly temperature. Pour yourself a little. Or a lot.
Now, close your eyes before you take a sniff. Are you transported to a spring day in the park? This cava has notes of grass and lemon: two scents that I immediately associate with Spring.
Next, take a little sip. Don’t the bubbles feel divine swirling around your tongue? You may be able to detect faint, fruity notes of pear. It’s light, fresh and very well balanced for such an inexpensive wine. The finish is cool and crisp, just like the new season upon us now.
A little background on cava wines
The grapes are grown along the coast of Spain which is renowned for its production of sparkling wines. The Penedès region boasts luscious hills just southwest of Barcelona. The Seguras Viudas estate itself dates back to the 11th century.
These Spanish vintners create their sparkling wines using the Champenoise (French) method. Simply stated, it is a double fermentation process. Wine is decanted into individual bottles once the initial vat fermentation is complete. Next, a little sugar and yeast are added. Then each bottle is sealed with a beer- or bottle-cap style topper.
Bottles are racked with the necks pointing down during this secondary fermentation step. Each bottle is then rotated by hand a few degrees every couple of weeks: this is called riddling. Fun Fact: a good remueur (French for “bottle-turner”) can rotate about 40,000 bottles per day! Of course, robots are also in use now and can riddle bottles about 5x faster.
Champenoise-style wines are aged in the bottle for 18-30 months. Otherwise, aging in oak casks would eliminate the bubbles. Although less common, some cavas are aged up to 6 years. Sediment, which is dead yeast, is easily removed as it collects in the neck of the bottle.
Crystal clear, bubbly liquid remains behind once the sediment has been removed. Bottle-cap toppers are replaced with wire-cage toppers, which are required to keep all those bubbles in. That is until you’re ready to set them free!
Just a few more steps to go before we can wine down and chill.
What to eat
With today’s theme being all things happy, Lobster Mac’n’Cheese is the dish de jour. Mmmm. Cheese. Butter. Noodles. What’s not to like?
Five ingredients and five steps
One, boil a box of pasta. Select cavatappi pasta, aka “Scoobi Doo.” Pop your protein in and boil together for the last minute of cooking. Strain.
Two, choose your protein. Yes, shelled edamame work but consider using a can of lobster. For those of us that are deathly allergic to shellfish, opposed to it, or don’t want to pay for it, the option is a bag of faux lobster (which is pollock fish).
Three, select your cheese. Melt a glass jar of Cheez Whiz in the microwave for a minute if you like the tried-and-true. Or, bake a chunk of brie in the oven for about 15 min at 350°F if you want to get fancy-schmancy.
Four, scoop out the melted cheese and smother the cooked pasta. To make it even creamier, add a little unflavored milk or butter. Mix everything together in a baking dish.
Five, combine a few tablespoons each of parmesan and panko-style breadcrumbs in a little bowl. Sprinkle over the top of the lobster pasta. Bake on the top rack of the oven for about 5 min at 400°F to make a crunchy top layer.
Pour yourself another glass of this delectable cava. Portion out the mac’n’cheese casserole into a few bowls or into martini glasses for a grown-up touch. Or, just eat it right out of the baking dish. No judgment! We don’t blame you if you want to eat it all because it’s that good.
We’re getting ready to wine down and chill.
What to watch
To date, I have suggested contemporary shows. It’s time to switch it up! This week, we’re going way back. In less than two weeks, The Breakfast Club will disappear from Netflix. The movie is classic John Hughes, circa 1984.
Five high school students that wouldn’t be caught dead saying “hi” to each other in the halls are united by shared detention. All the stereotypes are represented: the rich bitch, jock, nerd, freak, and trouble-maker. Over the course of the detention, they share their respective stories and realize that they are not so different from each other. There is a scene with the brilliant comedic addition of the freak’s dandruff to her doodle art. And a more poignant and unexpected reveal of domestic abuse.
The moral of the story? If we took the time to listen and learn from each other, we’d realize that we all have issues to overcome. We just need to work our way through the laughter and the tears together.
The head-banger option
Of course, if you’re looking for something that is fresh, but still throws back to the 80s, The Dirt premieres tonight on Netflix. It seems that biopics are trending. Given how well Bohemian Rhapsody did on this past season’s awards circuit, we’re probably going to see many more.
The trailer teases sex, violence, drugs, and rock’n’roll. What else would you expect from a rockumentary on one of the baddest-ass bands in history? The band was infamous for its shenanigans but it did have legions of followers. Hard-hitting songs like Dr. Feelgood, Kickstart my Heart plus the remake of Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room were as vital to the decade as the big hair favored by the band at the time. If you watch it, let us know what you liked or loathed about it!
Now, once you’ve made the tough choice of what to stream, settle in as it’s finally time to wine down and chill.