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Asti Spumante and Panettone

Asti Spumante and Panettone – A perfect pair!

Why does food and wine matching seem so difficult, so fraught with opportunity to miss the mark? It’s simple really: we insist on reinventing the wheel, overlooking time-tested pairings that are always spot-on in favor of hit-or-miss improvisations.

High on the list of time-tested culinary hook-ups is the sensational combination of the Italian sweet bread panettone with the subtly sugary, frothy sip known as Asti Spumante. Like many dining room dream teams the two grew up together, in this case in the north of Italy where panettone is the traditional Christmas and New Year treat and Asti Spumante its perennial accompaniment. Together they’re a holiday party waiting to happen–as easy and pleasing a dessert course as you’ve ever served.

Our Cambridge shop is piled high with Paticceria Perbellini‘s exceptional panettone right now, with several kinds choose from – but we’re offering only one Asti Spumante: the most delicious we know!

Torelli “Di Michela” Asti Spumante is available at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge, or for pick-up at Formaggio Kitchen South End with one day’s notice.

 

Stephen Meuse is a Wine Buyer at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.

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holiday_wine_picks_2014

Our wine buyers’ top picks for the holidays! La Cigarrera Amontillado VOR, 2012 Domaine Comte Abbatucci “Cuvee Faustine” Rouge, 2005 CUNE “Contino” Rioja Reserva, and 1979 Kopke Colheita Port

The holiday season is upon us, and once again this year we’ve asked our wine buyers at both shops to recommend the wines they’re most excited about gifting this year. These are not every day wines, but rather special bottles that you will want to gift or sip with loved ones. If any of these wines strike your fancy let us know so we can set a bottle (or more) aside for you, as some of them are rare and available in very limited quantities.

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Montburgeau Cremant du Jura and winter cheeses

Montbourgeau Cremant du Jura with (from left to right), Preférés de nos Montagnes, Harbison, Comté Fort Sainte Antoine and chestnuts, white truffles, and Bosc pears.

As the seasons change and the pastures are coated in frost, we look forward to some of our most decadently delicious cheeses of the year. Grass-fed milk is often prized for it’s buttery, vibrant yellow-orange color and mouth-watering flavor. These qualities are most present in cow’s milk alpine styles, like Comté or Gruyère, where beta carotenoids from grass (the same compound that give’s carrots their color) provide that deep yellow color and diacetyls, produced in fermentation, give us that characteristic “grass-fed” flavor. Summer’s milk is lean and grassy, making it a perfect raw material for harder, longer-aged cheeses with longevity and elasticity (try bending a piece of Comté). However, for the lavish, richly-textured, scoopable delights of the holiday season there is no substitute for winter’s milk. When the cow’s move off pasture and temperatures drop, their diet shifts to primarily hay and grain, and they produce less milk at each milking. As a result, the milk is much richer and sweeter and significantly higher in fat, protein, and lactose. This milk is ideally suited to making those soft-ripened cheeses that pair perfectly with a holiday meal, the globular palate-coating beauties that sink in to every nook and cranny of a crusty baguette.

These kind of winter-milk cheeses pair perfectly with the Montbourgeau Crémant du Jura, one of our favorite sparkling wines for tyrophiles (cheese-lovers).

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The Vallana Winery

The Vallana Winery

The rolling Alpine foothills of the Alto-Piemonte (or Upper Piemonte) are not as well known or as frequently visited by wine-lovers as the Barolo and Barbaresco wine regions just to the south, but fascinating and delicious Nebbiolo-based wines are made here, too!

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Domaine de Vaccelli Cuvée Roger 2009 with Meadowood Farm Lamb Chops and Red Fire Farm Brussels Sprouts.

Domaine de Vaccelli Cuvée Roger 2009
with Meadowood Farm Lamb Chops and Red Fire Farm Brussels Sprouts.

France’s Île de Beauté (Island of Beauty) lies one hundred miles south of France’s Côte-d’Azur and just over fifty miles west of Tuscany. This wildly majestic island enjoys some of the hottest, driest conditions in all of France (it holds the record for the most annual sunshine), and is where the Greeks first cultivated vines back in the 6th Century BCE. Despite this long history of production, it was not until the 1960s, when a horde of skilled wine-makers fled Algeria (the so-called French pieds noirs) for Corsica, that it became known for wines of quality of distinction.

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Clos Cibonne Cuvee Speciale Tibouren

Clos Cibonne Cuvee Speciale Tibouren

We’re so excited to share the Clos Cibonne Cotes de Provence red with you, as this is one of our favorite wines for late summer and early fall!

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Clos de l'Origins Soif de Plaisir 2011

Clot de l’Origins Soif de Plaisir 2011

Southwest of the Languedoc lies Roussillon, a region that has too often been reduced to mere suffix. Roussillon stretches from the river Aude in the north to the border of Catalonia in the South. In the West, the snow-capped Pyrenées rise above 2500m in places, with the jagged peaks of Pic du Canigou at 2,786m (9.140ft) above sea level. A sharp descent eastward brings you to back to the stifling heat of the Mediterranean coastline, where Vin Doux Naturels reign supreme. Roussillon is primarily known for these wines, which are made from partially-fermented grape juice that is fortified with alcohol before it fully becomes wine. Made from the most common regional varietal, Grenache (whether is be Noir, Gris, or Blanc) , these aperitif “wines” benefit from early ripening fruit in some of the hottest, driest vineyards in all of France. Overall Roussillon produces 90% of all French Vin Doux Naturel, the most famous of which is Banyuls, made in the southeasternmost corner of the region. In Banyuls-sur-Mer, Grenache grapes are grown on steeply-terraced schist slopes, allowed to shrivel on the vine, fermented, fortified, and aged in barrel for years at a time at which point they can achieve a depth comparable to vintage port.

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