What to Pair with Spring Fare

With Mother’s Day, just around the corner, it’s a signal for party planning time. And not just for Mother’s Day Brunch. There are also Bridal Showers lunches, June graduation bbqs and wedding buffets to celebrate. And the best way to celebrate these special occasions is with food and sparkling wine with family and friends.

A sparkling wine is a great way to kick off a special celebration. Another great way to kick off a special day, like Mother’s Day, is with a Champagne brunch. A punch bowl of sparkling Mimosas or Champagne punch, garnished with fresh fruit is a great accompaniment to those Belgian Waffles or easy cheesy egg casserole.

Since kitchens are a natural gathering place, help making crepes filled with ricotta cheese and sweet sliced strawberries is a good group exercise with just rewards. Having a flute of bubbly sounds like the perfect morning, doesn’t it?

In our large family everyone pitched in to make the meals, especially my dad, who had worked in a bakery and was very good at making bread, coffee cakes and rolls. The first loaf with a stick of butter was always devoured before it even had a chance to cool.

Mom was never seen near the stove after all. She worked full time and she was an excellent list-maker and teacher. She did teach all her children how to make breakfast, lunch, dinner and fudge when we were just knee high to a grasshopper.

The only time she was seen near the stove was on Mother’s Day. This tradition probably stemmed from the massive effort and money to take the family out to brunch.

When they retired, my dad would still do most of the cooking. Mom just loved broccoli salad so she would make that for every special occasion. You could count on it for Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and all nine of her children’s birthdays.

I would bring the sparklers for every special occasion, especially a Moscato d’Asti on Mother’s Day. This is one wine that everyone loved with its low alcohol, sweet perfumed fruitiness and balancing acidity. Traditionally produced in the northwest part of Italy, Moscato d’Asti is the Muscat grape from the Asti region. It’s not a full sparkling wine but half sparkling or what the Italians term frizzante.

This wine is now produced around the world and some are made with fruit juices such as pineapple. All are low alcohol, sweet and easy to guzzle.

Spumante is derived from the Italian word spumare which roughly translates to foam, thus a spumante is an Italian way of saying sparkling wine. A Spumante is made from Muscat, Glera, Pinot Noir or Chardonnay grape.

The region that is best known for sparkling wine is in Northeast Italy around the city of Veneto. There they have perfected a Spumante and call it Prosecco. They can be dry or sweet or even semi-dry. Prosecco is an ideal brunch wine, especially when making Bellinis.

Other bubblies to consider for the punch bowl that are the very affordable are Spanish Cavas made from a blend of Macabeu, Parellada and Xarel·lo, the traditional grape varieties.

Cava is produced for the most part in the Penedès, a wine-producing region in northeast Spain with a Denominació d’Origen (DO) designation that signifies quality. The biggest producer is Freixenet, headquartered in Sant Sadurní, Catalonia. It’s the largest producer of sparkling wine in the world. Juame Serra Cristalino and Codorniu are the other two huge sparkling wine producers in the area and also make ideal punch bowl ingredients.

The unusual names for these bottles come from ancient history. They are the kings of Babylon, Israel and Arabia, who presumably had many reasons to celebrate.

For your celebrations big and small, here is a rough guide for how much, depending on how many.

Split (1/4 bottle): 187ml or 6.5 oz.; 1 person, 1 glass

Half (1/2 bottle): 375ml or 13 oz.; 2 people, 1 glass

Fifth: 750 ml or 26.25 oz.; 4 people, 1 glass

Magnum (2 bottles): 1500ml or 52.5 oz.; 8 people, 1 glass

Jeroboam (4 bottles): 3000ml or 105 oz.; 4 people, 1 bottle

Rehoboam (6 bottles): 4500ml or 157 oz., 12 people, 2 glasses

Methuselah (8 bottles): 6000ml or 210 oz.; 18 people, 2.5 glasses

Salmanazar (12 bottles): 9000ml or a case; 12 people, 1 bottle

Balthazar (16 bottles): 12 L or a case + 3.3; 20 people, 4 glasses

Nebuchadnezzar (20 bottles): 15 L or a case + 6.6; 20 people, 1 bottle

Solomon (24 bottles): 18 L or 2 cases; The party bottle

Cheers to Mothers, congratulations to graduates and happy nuptials. Best wishes to all!