Champagne: A Delectable Weapon

When I moved into my first apartment in college my Mom offered me various pieces of mis-matched furniture and sage advice: “Always have a bottle of champagne in your refrigerator.” 

To a college kid surviving off $2 burritos, Woodstock’s pizza, Popov and Keystone Light, this seemed a tad indulgent.

“If someone breaks in, you throw the champagne hard at their feet and the explosion will enable you to make a get away.”

Brilliant. Better than pepper spray and you can drink it too – a double-duty weapon. 

To this day there is always a bottle of bubbly in my fridge and a bottle or five in reserve in the basement. Perfect for self-defense and celebration.

If you choose to build your own arsenal, here are a few of my favorites:

  • Toad Hollow Risque (sub-$20 usually): This is the perfect sparkling wine for a girls’ night in. Sweet and naughty it pairs well with Chambord for a decadent Kir Royal.
  • Roederer Estate Brut: (Often can be found for $20 or less): Roederer produces a consistently dry, vibrant sparkling wine. Jim and I picked the Roederer Estate Brut as the sparkling wine for our wedding and no one was disappointed. My sister and I enjoy sipping it while dining al fresco on clams or mussels.
  • Domaine Carneros Vintage Brut: ($26): If you ever find yourself in Sonoma or Napa, head on over to Domaine Carneros for a glass of bubbly and a cheese plate on the deck of the Chateau overlooking the Carneros Valley. On a sunny day, there is no better place to be and the bubbly is on par with the champagne of its partner Taittinger.  The Famous Gate pinot noir is also excellent.
  • Perrier-Jouet, “The Flower Bottle”: ($145): I would probably throw a vase before letting one of Perrier-Jouet’s flower bottles bounce to the floor, it’s that good.  This champagne is one of my Mom’s favorites and she has excellent taste so just trust me on this one. Keep your eye out for Christmas specials where you can find the champagne with matching flutes at a slightly lower price (sometimes even at Costco – shocking).

Now, get out there and arm yourself!

Thanksgiving Menu and Beverage Planning

This year Jim and I are hosting Thanksgiving. Menu planning is contentious as Jim and his children are uber-traditionalists and persnickety eaters. When I suggested au gratin potatoes instead of mashed, I was met with the horror reserved for news that I had run over the family cat (if we had one that is) – “You have to have mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving! Pause. Pause. Pause. Sigh. We could have 2 kinds of potatoes I guess.”

Yeah, no. I played that game last Christmas and ended up in the kitchen for 7 hours to be met with a number of dishes that persons who shall not be named didn’t even try. Although I tried to rise above it as any good hostess would, I’m seriously contemplating getting those in question Emily Post’s Etiquette for Christmas this year.

My brother-in-law Dave will be co-cooking with me, Jim will be making the sacred mashed potatoes and the remaining side dishes are all secret so Thanksgiving Day cooking won’t be the drudgery that is cooking dishes you don’t want to make. Here’s how things are shaping up:

Cheese plate of Cougar Gold cheddar, blue cheese, triple cream brie and herbed goat cheese served with pita crackers and baguette.

The Main Event
Sacred Mashed Potatoes
Herbed Stuffing
Sausage Stuffing
Dave’s homemade dinner rolls
Apple-cinnamon cranberry sauce
Secret side dish no. 1
Secret side dish no. 2
Secret side dish no. 3

Pumpkin Pie
Chocolate Pecan Pie
Apple Gallette

Which leaves me to ponder drinks. For the cheese plate, I’m pairing my Dad’s Renegade Sauvignon Blanc. If I didn’t have that though, Roederer Sparkling Wine, Murphy-Goode’s Fume or Conundrum would all work as would a white bordeaux.

As most of the family favors red wine, with dinner I’m debating between Hard Row to Hoe’s Double Dip, Murphy-Goode’s Terra Lago Cabernet Sauvignon or my Dad’s pinot noir (which is on the bold side unlike normal California pinots). For Thanksgiving dinner a pinot noir, a barbaresco, or a lighter bordeaux pairs well. Above all, I’m following my winemaker bro-in-law’s rule – “with great food, drink great wine.”

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