I know I’ve been trying to do my tidbits on Tuesdays, but I wanted to be sure to get this out before New Year’s Eve.
To get us ready, and help us with selecting what wine to bring, I wanted to do a Tidbit focusing on Sparkling Wine
First, let’s clarify the Champagne issue – like a square and a rectangle, Champagne is always a sparkling wine, but a sparkling wine is not always Champagne. Just like a Bordeaux wine must be from Bordeaux, Champagne is regional as well.
The primary grapes used in Champagne are Pinot Noir (yes, a red grape), Pinot Meunier (related to the Pinot Noir), and Chardonnay.
Some other popular sparkling wines and terms
Cava: Sparkling wine of Cava, Spain. A warmer climate leads to a wine with more body, less acidity and ripe fruits and citrus flavors.
Spumante:Sparkling wine of Italy, said to outdate Champagne.
Prosecco:Unlike Champagne that is often saved for special occasions, Prosecco is meant to be an everyday sparkling, ready if a guest drops by unannounced – light, fresh and simple. They tend to be lower in alcohol, with crisp fruit flavors.
Brut: means that the wine is dry
Extra Dry: The wine is a bit sweeter than the Brut… makes sense, doesn’t it?
Sec, demi-sec, and doux: These wines are sweeter than extra dry, with doux the sweetest. Generally, we don’t see many of these wines in the U.S
Life is For Getting Bubbly!
With the new(ish) small plate trend, diners are really getting excited about heading out to a restaurant and making a meal out of tasting lots of different things. One of my favorite ways to do this, that has actually been around for centuries, is dim sum.
Dim sum is a Chinese tradition that is comprised of dumplings and other bite-size snacks. Many are steamed - actually served still in their steamer baskets - while some are fried, pan-fried or baked.
If you’ve never tried Dim Sum, don’t be afraid! While there are dishes for adventurous eaters - like tripe and chicken feet - most of the dishes are far less wild. Items like pork or shrimp dumplings, spring rolls, and noodle cakes are wonderful for any eater.
For years here in Richmond, the go-to spot for dim sum has been Full Kee. Full Kee, located just of Horsepen and Broad, is an excellent Chinese restaurant that offers many authentic dishes that you can’t find at most other RVA Asian restaurants. We’ve had the dim sum here many times, and though some would argue they’re a bit pricey (averaging about $3 for 3 pieces), they are definitely the top.
However, while most argue that Full Kee is the dim sum king of Richmond, there is now an aptly named “Queen’s Dim Sum”.
Getting to try Queen’s for the first time, I ordered a lot of the same dishes that I usually enjoy at Full Kee to see how they stacked up. I was also intrigued by some of the more unique offerings that we hadn’t seem before.
A few that I was most excited to try were the Beef Spare Ribs (small bites of meat on the bone in a tasty broth), Steamed Pork Buns, and Shrimp and Chive Dumplings. Let me tell you, they did not disappoint.
While Full Kee’s strength is great flavor and variety, Queen’s offered tasty dishes as well but usually in a slightly larger quantity. The Shrimp and Chive dumplings were not only delicious, but they were also some of the largest I have seen. Also, with the Pork Buns, each order comes with three (just two at Full Kee) so you can have two when they come to the table and save one sweet and savory dumpling for dessert.
However, when all is said and done, I would have to say that, while Queen’s is delicious and I will DEFINITELY be back, Full Kee is still the king in town.
Both of these restaurants serve dim sum seven days a week (though Full Kee is only until 3:00) - but the best time to go is on Saturday and Sunday, when the staff pushes around a cart with a wide variety of dishes to choose from. This is a great time to try dishes that aren’t usually on the menu, and you can also see your food before you order and you may find yourself inspired by something new.
Life is For Tasting - Dim Sum.
**Note: The pictures in this post are to give a visual of dishes to expect when ordering dim sum. They are not a representation from either Full Kee or Queen’s Dim Sum.
At a recent tasting of luxury boutique wines on the Hawaiian island of Maui, John Conover, general manager of the PlumpJack Vineyard of Oakville, Calif., stood accused.
"A lady in the audience stood up and said, ‘You’re the one. … You’re the one that bottles with screw caps,’" he recalls, noting his winery is proud to be experimenting with the closures.
"She said, ‘You’re taking the mystique out of wine.’"
I’m sure you have noticed the recent trend in closing wine bottles with a screw cap rather than a cork, even here at James River. Along with the new trend come reasons and rumors as to why the shift has been made. I want to take this Tidbit to try and shed a little light on the situation.
There are basically three options when it comes to sealing a bottle of wine: natural cork, synthetic corks, and screw caps. All three of these options have their benefits as well as drawbacks.
For the purists, they love the romance that comes with opening a bottle sealed with a natural cork. And, there’s always something to be said for tradition. Also, the natural cork industry is largely “green” and sustainable. That said, natural corks run the risk of causing what is called “cork taint” – which occurs when mold in the cork comes into contact with the wine.
The pluses of using a synthetic cork are that they are generally easier to remove from the bottle and won’t crumble into the wine, like natural cork might. While it’s easier to remove, however, it can be more difficult to put back in the bottle. (Though, who among us doesn’t finish a bottle in one sitting?) Also, being made of plastics and synthetic materials, this product is not as environmentally friendly.
And then there’s the ominous screw cap. With 70-90% of wines in America being consumed with 24 hours of purchase, we’re not doing much aging anymore. With that in mind, it’s nice that these bottles are easy to open and close and require no special tools. That said, a screw cap has been proven to age wine just fine for the first 10 years (though after that, the material deteriorates). However, bottling with screw caps is actually a MORE expensive process than corking a bottle.
And then there’s boxed wine… but that’s another story ;)
So, however it comes, as long as the wine tastes good… ENJOY!
For today’s Tidbit, I want to let you all know what wine I would like for Christmas…
Today we’re talking about Legs and the Marangoni Effect.
You know you’ve seen this person – someone takes their glass, swirling the wine while holding it to the light, usually around a group of people they want to impress. Their first comment is usually something to the effect of…
“Ah, look at those legs. This wine must be very nice.”
However, in reality, the legs – or “tears” as the French call them – don’t speak to the quality of the wine at all.
Those drips that you see down the side of your glass are actually a result of evaporation.
Wine is comprised of mostly alcohol and water. However, alcohol evaporates at a faster rate than water does. This actually causes tension on the surface of the wine. When you swirl your glass before tasting the wine and some of the wine remains on the surface of your glass, the tension breaks. Since the alcohol evaporates more quickly, it actually crawls up the inside of the glass while gravity causes the water to run downward. As more alcohol evaporates, the water concentration increases, and thus the tension increases, causing more legs.
So… the Higher the Alcohol Content - the Greater the Tension - the More Developed the Legs
Don’t believe me?
Swirl a glass of wine and observe the formation of legs. Now cover the glass and swirl it again. Eventually, the legs will usually quit forming.
Uncover the glass and legs will start to form again
Life is for Tasting - and for Great Legs