finding perfect bubbly for the holidays – review and a bonus gift

I am so excited to bring you Sips in the City’s first custom cocktail!

And, since that is such a special occasion, we have crafted it out of a beautiful sparkling wine with a sommelier, no less.

And, and…. if you are the ‘try it before you buy it’ type, you’ll be excited to know that it’s available for purchase this holiday season at one of our local restaurants!

See? So excited! Let’s get to it.

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Haywire’s The Bub and Evolve’s Pink Effervesence

I really wanted to come up with a way that you can purchase sparkling wine for your holiday parties and celebrations and get the most out of your purchase. If you are like me, you want to use up the whole bottle and you want your guests to have a great time helping you drink it.

Sparkling wine is such a treat. I love toasting and marking special occasions.  I also love being creative and surprising people. So, we asked for a little help to come up with a way to get two drinks for the price of one when you buy your bubbles this year.

Meet Brain Henderson. He’s the bartender at Storms on the River in Kamloops. Hi, Brian!

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Brian is a member of Liquid Chef, the U.S. Sommelier Association and Confriere du Sabre d’Or. Yes, he’s holding a sword. More on that later. We asked Brian to help us taste two sparkling wines, at two different price points, this week and then help us come up with a cocktail that you can make with your remaining wine after you toast. Boy, did we pick the right guy for the job.

On to the bubbles!

The first wine we tried was from  Evolve Cellars. We sampled their lovely Pink Effervesence. This sparkler is made of predominantly Pinot Blanc with a splash of Merlot. This wine had nice body. It had great weight in your mouth and followed through with lots of fruity finish. It’s very peachy and isn’t too dry. It’s a gorgeous wine. Beautiful colour and flavour and very worth the price. This is the perfect sparkling wine for your Christmas party with friends. It would also be great at an office afternoon potluck on your last day before Christmas. Or, is your book club, school PAC or Mom’s group having a Christmas get-together to celebrate how awesome you are? This twinkly treat would be perfect for those occasions, too. And at under $20 a bottle, you can afford to amaze your friends with your good taste this season! Of the two we tried, this was my favourite and Brian’s too.

Note the bubbles in the next picture and you tell me if the glass you choose is important to your wine experience? You need to buy yourself some champagne flutes, buddy. Class it up.

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The next wine we tried was from Haywire Wines. Their 2014 The Bub is a step up, coming in at $29.90 a bottle. Now we are dealing with a champagne style wine, crafted in the traditional method. This type of wine goes through a second fermentation in the bottle which creates more pressure and tinier bubbles. The process is more intense and the price reflects the craftsmanship. This is a considerably different wine than the first.

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This is a wine-drinker’s champagne. It is drier, more complex and had beautiful balance. It was earthy and clean. It has a minerality that is very distinct and would pair wonderfully with the types of warm appetizers that you see commonly at holiday par-tays. Crafted from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes grown in the Okanagan, it’s a true reflection of the quality of clean, crisp, world-class wine that we can produce in BC. This was Kevin’s favourite of the two. He leans towards the drier, heavier wines normally so I am not surprised. This is the perfect Christmas Eve wine. It’s perfect for in front of the fire, with the Christmas tree twinkling beside you. Having your relatives over? Making a big announcement (boys, buy her a ring already)? Do you know you have a wine snob on your guest list? This is your wine.

Now, let’s have some fun! You can do a lot with a bottle of sparkling wine, my friends! In an hour, Brian came up with five, FIVE, amazing cocktails with these two wines. Here we go….

First, some wine porn…

We had a lot of fun! I asked Brian to meet a couple of requirements when I asked him to start thinking of what we could create;

  • The drink needed to be more martini and less sangria
  • It needed to stay true to the flavour and the feel of the wine. Don’t weigh down the bubbles!
  • It could not be too sweet
  • It should feel like holiday treat!

And with that info, we got to work! Brian had made a raspberry puree with a hint of simple syrup. He had some oranges and lemons on hand, and he had made some infused ice cubes as well. Plus, he had another little surprise cooked up.

Our first martini consisted of a small amount of sweetened raspberry puree with our pink bubbly. He then rimmed the glass with orange juice and garnished the drink with an orange thumbnail. The result? A light, only mildly sweet, sparkling drink that started off tart from the orange and finished with the beautiful wine flavour we were hoping for. Easy, classic and perfect!

Our second drink was a bit fancier. We pulled out the big guns… the whip cream dispenser!

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But, that’s no simple whip cream you are seeing. That is whipped egg whites infused with simple syrup and elder flower liqueur. Oh Em Gee. So we started with the same base and added this beautiful top. I would lightly rim the glass with orange sugar as well. Since it’s not sweet underneath, you won’t lose the flavours in the drink. It is a beautiful cocktail.

Number three was also made with our pink potion. This once was simple and classy but had some serious flare. Like, fire flare!

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This one was really just our pretty sparkling wine with an orange thumbnail added. But he lit the orange on fire first! The result was that our drink smelled like warm, cinnamon oranges but tasted like our peachy wine. This was a delight!

And the fourth was just as fun! Using a white bubbly this time, Brian added some infused ice cubes that he had prepared in advance. We tried a basil and lemon sparkling martini and a cucumber and pineapple one, too!

These are lovely Christmas day drinks. Light and crisp and perfect for sipping after your breakfast and before your big dinner. They would also be great for your holiday parties. You can make them with a sweeter wine as well for a different experience all together.

So, which one came out on top to become the Sips in the City Cocktail at Storms this holiday?

Number two! The Elder Flower Infusion!! You will be able to purchase this drink at the restaurant and try it out before making it on your own! And you really need to go chat with Brian. He knows so much!! And he has great ideas. He’s been a sommelier for over 25 years. You can’t go wrong if you tell him what you really want. Plus, he’s super nice.

If you are really sweet maybe he will use a sword to open your wine…. I wish I could get the video to upload on here… it was awesome!

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Lynn
    Nov 17, 2016 @ 22:54:33

    I think it’s time to meet Brian!
    And I will have those two bottles on hand for all Christmas celebrations.
    Thanks, Bonnie!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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