Napoleon and wine

Napoleon was a great wine lover, sadly there were no wines from his native Corsica in his favorites, but he was known for loving 3 wines in particular: Moët & Chandon Champagne, Vin de Constance from South Africa and Chambertin wines from Burgundy. One could argue that they are all better than Corsican Vermentinu, but I don’t want to have Corsicans angry at me.

Glass of Chambertin not pictured

Glass of Chambertin not pictured

He actually had more than 300 gallons of Vin de Constance shipped to St-Helena, the small South Atlantic Island where he lived out his final exile. Reportedly the last thing he had before dying was a single glass of that sweet dessert wine. I guess he drank till the not so bitter end. I am slightly ashamed of that last joke… Was it bad? Was it really bad?

Anyway, It’s good to know that being Emperor of the French did not prevent him from enjoying foreign wines.

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New Year’s Eve wine and food ramblings

I’ll be flying home for the holidays on Friday, a couple weeks in Paris to see family and friends, celebrate Christmas and send 2013 off in style. I know that NYE is overrated but I’ll just have a few good friends with me and we’ll have a good dinner with good wines, no big production.

That leaves me with a task, dinner for ten people or so to plan. What will I make and what will we drink with it? What should I ask guests to bring and what will we drink with it? It seems a daunting task, not so much the cooking but the battle plan preparation. Once I know what, the rest is just logistics and execution. But right now, I’m staring at an almost blank canvas.

Almost blank because, thankfully, I know a few variables already

– There will be champagne with snacks because we are civilized people. And civilized people have champagne with snacks, let’s not be vulgar. I think I still have a few bottles of Cattier hidden in the cellar.

Cattier

–  There will be foie gras because we are savages and we eat fattened duck or goose liver. Also because a guest has South-western France connections and that’s where foie gras comes from. Also because I love foie gras. The accompanying wine is a sweet white, Sauternes is the common choice, I tend to prefer Jurancon but they will both do.

–  There will be cheese because I live in the US and while I visit France I need to have as much delicious unpasteurized fermented milk with as many living organisms in them as possible. I’d like to serve white with cheese because I often feel it’s a better match. Ideally I’d like to find a white from the Jura region in Eastern France.

szrzU_plateau_fromage_11

And… that’s all I have so far. I still need to choose a main dish that I’ll make, I really don’t know what to make. I like to cook New-Orleans inspired dishes but I’m not sure it’ll work. I might end up going super-French and make blanquette de veau or something like that. Or I’ll just ask my guest what they want to eat.

Guests will also bring dessert and I’ll have to find something that matches, I’m not worried about that one (to be fair, I’m not worried about any of it, I just made this a bigger deal than it is because I needed to stretch it into a blog post…)

I’m not sure if we’ll have port and cigars and discuss stocks afterwards. We’re in our early thirties and might not be at this point yet, we’ll play it by ear, it will be fun, it always is. And if I do my job right and get the right wines, everybody should be in a good mood when 2014 rolls in.

Did you know : True Colors

Here’s the first post of a series I want to do (probably once a week) of short random factoids about wine, wine making or wine drinking. Most people will already know them anyway but still. Anyway, here it is

Did you know…that red grapes can be used to make white or rose wine?

The color of the wine is not necessarily related to the color of the grapes. For instance champagne can be made entirely from red grapes and it will still look clear. The color of the wine comes from the skins of the pressed grapes. When skins are allowed to sit in the pressed juice, they will add color to it. The more you let skins in contact with the juice, the more color the wine will ultimately have.