Gruet Sips and Bites: Sparkling Wine and Food Pairings

What better way to kick off the weekend than with some delicious bubbly! I am so excited to share this post with you - it's one of my favorites I've written (and researched) to date! I mean who doesn't want to taste champagne all day! Someone had to do it.

Now let me just say: whether you spend every other week in Napa or are just dipping your toe into the wine world, this post is for you! This is for my wine-loving friends who are always wanting to try something new. Learn more. Explore palettes. Have fun. In my book, that's what wine is supposed to be all about! Are you with me? Then pull up a chair, pour some bubbly, and let's talk food and wine pairings!

Jordan and I have been on a major sparkling wine kick lately, and discovered Gruet Winery. They're located in New Mexico, and make sparkling wines using the Champagne method (or méthode Champenoise, which you can learn about here). Their founder was originally from France, and decided to plant an experimental vineyard in New Mexico in 1984. You can read more about the fascinating story here!

Their wines have become a favorite in our house. We love that the quality rivals some of the biggest players in the Champagne game, and yet they're not so expensive that we feel guilty popping a bottle on a Wednesday. It's all about that balance, right?

For the sparkling wine, we will focus on the Gruet Brut, Sauvage, Blanc de Blancs and Brut Rosé. When you're doing a food and wine tasting, I recommend a strategy that I learned on our recent trip to Bordeaux: taste the wine first and try to pick out any familiar flavors and/or tastes. (Ex: Maybe green apple? Maybe you're not sure which fruit, but you know it's tart.) Then taste the food. Then take another taste of the wine. It's fun to see how the flavors change with the food - how some characteristics might become more subtle, while others become more pronounced. 

For the food: I tried to keep the food pairings as simple as possible. If you want to recreate this sparkling wine and food tasting at home (which I hope you will!), the food will take you max 35 minutes to prepare all of it. And then, if you want to explore each wine further with fancier food options, please do!


Pairing 1: Brut with Fresh Bruschetta and Balsamic Glaze

Let's start with the Brut! This is a really traditional sparkling wine that's bright and citrusy, and I get some hints of nectarine or peach. I feel like this wine is really forgiving and would pair well with a variety of food. I loved the Brut with a fresh tomato bruschetta, drizzled with a balsamic glaze. Sometimes acid needs acid, and this wine pairs really with the acid in the tomatoes and balsamic.

To make the bruschetta: I made a really simple version with fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella, piled onto slices of fresh baguette and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. I didn't even bother toasting it, because I loved how light and fresh it was! 


Pairing 2: Sauvage with Truffled French Fries

The Sauvage sparkling wine is described as "bone dry", and that's an accurate description! This is a very dry sparkling wine, and I loved pairing this with a high fat food. The fat in the fries really helps to cut the acidity, and brings out more flavors in the wine. I think this would also be really great with a macaroni and cheese or buttery lobster!

To make the truffled french fries: Preheat the oven to 450 and line a baking sheet with foil. Spray with baking spray (I love this coconut oil spray). Cut a russet potato into thin (1/4 inch) slices, and then cut them again so you're left with long and thin "fries". Toss them in a bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons white truffle oil, 2 teaspoons garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Bake on the lined baking sheet for 20 minutes, and then turn the fries over. Sprinkle 1/4 cup parmesan cheese on top, and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes.


Pairing 3: Blanc de Blancs with Smoked Salmon Bites

I love the bright lemon flavors in the Blanc de Blancs! I first tasted this wine with a lemon sorbet which was way too intense and overpowered the more subtle flavors in the wine. Oops! That's a great example of a "bad pairing" haha! So I slept on it, and in the morning I decided to try it with my salmon bites. This ended up being my favorite pairing! The crisp citrus taste of the wine is so complimentary to the freshness of the salmon.

When I was thinking about what food would pair best (in my opinion) with the Blanc de Blancs, I thought about what I most like to use lemon in, since that was the primary flavor I personally got from the wine. And I loooove a lemony salmon! So voila!

You can find my Smoked Salmon Bite recipe here!


Pairing Four: Brut Rosé with Fresh Strawberries

No recipe needed! This Brut Rosé is so versatile, and can be paired with sooooo many things! We enjoyed this with pork tenderloin for Jordan's birthday, and strawberry macarons! It was delicious with pretty much everything we ate with it, but I really loved it with the simplicity of fresh strawberries. Sometimes a really good wine pairing happens with you pair the wine with a contrasting flavor, and sometimes complimentary flavors. The strawberries really help to bring out red berry tastes, and show off this wines creaminess. 

Remember - 99% of the fun in wine pairings is experimenting and seeing what you like! Everyone's palette is different, and maybe you'll love the Brut Rosé paired with fried chicken! What matters most is that you love the wine you're drinking, and I know you'll love all of these Gruet sparklers! Cheers!
Kirsten Bell

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