As featured on CBS's The Early Show, July 24, 2003
MASTER SOMMELIER, Andrea Immer, has released her latest project, "Entertaining Made Simple" a four CD set that provides complete dinner party plans -- menus, wine pairings and great classical music. Andrea's CD's are available from her website, or at many specialty booksellers and wine retailers, nationwide. The following are tips from "Entertaining made Simple" that she featured in a recent appearance on CBS's The Early Show.
Chardonnay, Shellfish & Schubert
Did you know that chardonnay is America's favorite white-wine grape? It can yield wines of legendary quality - ranging from crisp and subtle, to soft and juicy, to lush and exotic. It all depends on whether it is grown in a cool, moderate, or warm region. Chardonnay's home base is the Burgundy region of France. But you can find great chardonnays from California, Australia, and Washington State.
Steal: Gallo of Sonoma Chardonnay
Splurge: Chalk Hill Chardonnay
Schubert is seductive, gentle, and subtle, which goes perfectly with the delicate nature of fish and the glow of Chardonnay.
Food: Lobster with Smoked Mozzarella Sauce and Confetti Vegetables for the main course. And Tropical Fruits "on the half shell" with Banana Crunch Topping for dessert.
Merlot, Filet Mignon & Mozart
You can find this popular wine grape in a wide range of prices and complexity. It is modeled on the wine from its home region in Bordeux, France. However Washington State, Chile, California, and Australia are making some great Merlots as well.
Merlots have a nice medium body with a soft texture, which is why it's so popular with beginning wine drinkers. It has a nice plum fruit flavor. The more ambitious and expensive versions are usually aged from 7 to 18 months in wine barrels. This process gives them a fuller body and a rich "oaky' scent that may resemble spices such as vanilla.
Merlot does not have to be expensive to taste good.
Steal: Fetzer Eagle Peak Merlot
Splurge: Franciscan Merlot
It is lively party music without being overwhelming. The CD features a number of pieces you will recognize from “The Marriage of Figaro” to “Don Giovanni.”
Instead of having a meat dish with merlot, why not choose a dessert?
Food: Merlot Poached Pears with Roquefort
You want a powerful Merlot from California.
Pinot, Pasta & Puccini
The family of Pinot grapes includes two whites: Pinot Bianco/Blanc and Pinot Grigio/Gris. The Italian versions are very dry, delicate, crisp, and refreshing. California, Oregon, and France's Alsace region make different versions - succulent, ripe fruit flavors, and a nice fragrance.
Pinot is a favorite of sommeliers because it goes perfectly with nearly any food you can think of. Pinot Noir's home base is the Burgundy region of France, but they can be expensive and rare. So try Californian, Italian, and Oregon pinots. Again, expensive doesn't mean better.
Steal: Cavit Pinot Noir
Splurge: Robert Mondavi Carneros Pinot Noir
Perfect for an Italian course. Puccini's music wears its heart on its sleeve. Spicy Italian sausages seduce our taste buds while his music seduces our ears. His most popular opera "La Boheme," is perfect for a night with pinot and pasta.
Food: Fettucine with prosciutto, wild mushrooms, and sage.
Champagne, Chocolate & Chopin
Although all the world's bubblies are modeled on Champagne, only the one from the Champagne region of France is properly and legally allowed to be called Champagne. Sparkling wine is the proper term for the other bubblies some of which can be as good as the real thing. Cava from Spain, Proscecco from Italy are great and affordable.
Brut on the label indicates that the wine is utterly dry with no perceptible sweetness. Although they are pale golden-colored like a white wine - most brut sparkling wines are made from red grape blends. Blanc de Blancs mean "white from whites" referring to the use of Chardonnay or other white grapes exclusively. Blanc de Blancs are the most delicate. Rose sparklers get their pink tinge from a touch of red wine blended into the bubbly.
Steal: Freixenet Brut de Noirs
Splurge: Veuve Clicquot
Tip: You never actually want to "pop" the cork. Popping is dangerous and it also causes the bubbles to dissipate quickly.
Chopin's music is delicate, very much like champagne. It is complex while sounding very simple.
Food: Shrimp, Chicken, and Beef Skewers with Chile-Chocolate Mole sauce.
Champagne and sparkling wines really go well with a wide variety of foods, not just for dessert.
Champagne does not simply kick off or end a party; you can enjoy it midway with food.