Wine Pairing Weekend #2: Cava and Steamers on the Porch

Wine Pairing Weekend #2: Refreshing Wines and Food for Summer
Wine Pairing weekend is a monthly collaborative event for wine/food bloggers that just started.  I missed the first round, but I’m in for round #2 and beyond.  If you’re interested in finding out more about the event, there’s lots of information at the bottom of this post.

This month’s theme is “Refreshing Wine and Food Pairings”, perfect for a summer evening!


Dinner on the Porch
When I think of a refreshing summer meal, I think:

  • Fresh tasting
  • Easy and quick to prepare
  • Fun wine, not overly complicated, usually a crisp white or rosé

Even though we live in Minnesota, we love fresh seafood.  Especially clams, mussels and oysters on the half-shell.  Our choice today for a refreshing summer meal?  Cava and Steamers.  Let’s go!

Brut Cava, fun drink, even more fun to open with your favorite sabre!

Brut Cava, fun drink, even more fun to open with your favorite sabre!

The Wine: Cava
Cava is a sparkling wine from several areas of Spain, made in the Methode Champenoise, but made with grapes grown in Spain, mostly with difficult to remember names like Macabeu and Xarel-lo.  The Champagne folks from France are very protective of their name, so we would never refer to Cava as anything but Cava.  One of its many virtues is that it is inexpensive; you can buy a very nice Cava for less than $20. Given that Cava is inexpensive and just plain fun, we love to open it with a sabre!

Cava - fun and refreshing, even more fun to open with your favorite sabre!

Cava – fun and refreshing, even more fun to open with your favorite sabre!

Campos de Estrellas Estate Cava Brut ($15)
Eye: Clear, nice bubbles, warm rich yellow
Nose: Some yeast, but somehow not as rich as Champagne.  Lean.
Mouth: Lemons, stones, a touch of sweetness in the background, but not sweet.  Refreshing, of course!


Sparkling Wine with Your Meal?
Lots of people will occasionally open a sparkling wine to celebrate an occasion.  For a really special occasion, real French Champagne.  Did you know that sparkling wines of all types are wonderful with food?  For easy summer evenings on the porch, we like inexpensive (<$20) Cava, American sparkling wines, and Cremant from various areas of France.  These wines pair beautifully with light summer fare of all sorts.  Stop saving the sparkling wine for special occasions.  You’re special, enjoy one with dinner today!

You'll feel like you're sitting at the ocean with a bowl full of these

You’ll feel like you’re sitting seaside with a bowl full of these

Cava and Steamers
This recipe relies on fresh shellfish.  It’s worth your time to find the freshest source in your community.  Even in Minnesota, we can get great fresh seafood of all sorts at our favorite: Coastal Seafoods.

Cava was a great choice for pairing, since it has just a touch of flintiness in its flavor, which matches the saline nature of the clams fresh from the ocean.  The bubbles are indeed refreshing and cleanse the palate between bites.  This is an easy meal, but would be a real treat for guests, assuming they like clams!  One more note: steamers are very adaptable, you can take them in many different spice/herb/sauce directions.  What are your favorites?

Steamers on the Porch

My favorite easy summer recipes are very flexible with the ingredients.  Add, substitute or modify as you see fit.

I like to serve clams simply, accompanied by a fresh green salad and some crusty french bread.

Suggested Wine Pairings
Cava of course!  Nearly any dry sparkling wine will do well with steamers.  We like American sparkling wines, and Cremant from France.  Italian Franciacorta is a good choice, too.


  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Handful of basil (hopefully fresh from your herb garden), sliced finely, chiffonade style
  • 4 oz. dry white wine
  • 3 lbs fresh clams and/or mussels – today we used a mix of both.
  • 1/2 loaf crusty baguette or french bread, sliced thickly.


  • If you’re serving with salad and bread, make sure the salad is made and the bread is sliced before you start to cook.
  • Just before you start, rinse the clams to remove any residual sand.  Remove any remaining “beards” nwtw_cava_steamers_csa_kale_20140626_89sticking out, especially with mussels.  Set the clams and mussels aside.
  • In the pot you will steam the clams, start by browning the onions in the EVOO on a medium-low heat, about 5 minutes.
  • Once the onions are translucent, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, only 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Add the tomatoes and white wine, turn the heat up to high and cover the pot.
  • Once the pot is steaming, dump all the clams in at once and cover the pot.  While steaming, monitor the pot every few minutes to ensure you don’t boil away all the liquid.  You don’t want to drown the clams, but you don’t want to run out of liquid.  If needed, add another splash of white wine.
  • Steam until the clams have opened up.  This can take anywhere from 5 – 15 minutes, depending on how large your clams are.
  • Once you are done steaming, toss the basil in and mix it about a bit.
  • Remove the clams with a slotted spoon to a large bowl or bucket.  Serve the steaming liquid in individual bowls, it’s great for dunking your bread and it’s full of great tasting onions, tomatoes and basil.

Sabering your Sparkling Wine
And now for the real fun on a summer evening: Sabering your sparkling wine! It’s easier than you think, and a ton of fun.

Our daughter, Casey, sabering her first bottle of sparkling wine.  It’s easy!

For more details on how you actually do it, here’s my favorite video from Alton Brown.

Wine Pairing Weekend #2 Bloggers: Be sure to check out the great pairings my fellow bloggers have come up with for the July Wine Pairing Weekend! 

Culinary Adventures with Camilla posted “Green Fig Ice Cream + Cambiata Albariño

Vino Travels — An Italian Wine Blog shared “Orzo salad and Trebbiano d’Abruzzo

Curious Cuisiniere posted “Grilled Trout paired with a Tropical Fruit Viognier

ENOFYLZ Wine Blog paired “Ceviche and Tablas Creek Picpoul Blanc

Take a Bite Out of Boca shared “Grilled Mango-Sriracha Shrimp, Pineapple and Peppers paired with Burg Layer Schlosskapelle Spatlese Kerner

foodwineclick shared “Steamers and Cava on the Porch

Confessions of a Culinary Diva blogged about “Aperol Spritz

Cooking Chat paired “Grilled Salmon with Mango Salsa and a White Burgundy

Join the #winePW conversation: Follow the #winePW conversation on Twitter throughout the weekend and beyond. If you’re reading this early enough, you can join us for a live Twitter chat on our theme “Refreshing Summer Wine Pairings” on Saturday, July 12, from 11 a.m. to noon Eastern Time. You can also visit our group Pinterest board to pin some great pairing ideas for later! Stay tuned for the August Wine Pairing Weekend, which will focus on “Wine for Summer’s Bounty” on Saturday, August 9.

Before you know it, they're gone and you're thinking about the next time you can make them!

Before you know it, they’re gone and you’re thinking about the next time you can make them!

22 Responses to “Wine Pairing Weekend #2: Cava and Steamers on the Porch”
  1. Food looks amazing as ever fella, I always make the mistake of reading your posts when I’m hungry!

  2. shaywiz says:

    I could eat steamed clams and mussels everyday. What a great choice!

    • Thanks Shaina. I’ll look forward to trying your mango/sriracha/shrimp recipe, but the spatlese may be a problem. I like Riesling, but I have a hard time getting anyone else to go past the first taste….

  3. culinarycam says:

    You had me at “cava” then you added “steamers.” Salud! Thanks for sharing with #winePW

  4. Fred Petters says:

    Nice Jeff!

  5. I love the idea of pairing bubbly with seafood…I’m gonna have to try your recipe for steamers. I really like clams, but I’ve only had them barbecued.

    • I think our love for steamed clams came from a few years in New England. Luckily, we have a good source for fresh clams in Minneapolis! Good luck and let me know how you like them.

  6. I would never have thought to serve a sparkling wine with steamers. Brilliant!

    • Thanks, Sarah. We’re big believers in popping a bottle of sparkling wine whenever friends come over, but we’re really starting to discover how good sparkling wines are at the dinner table.

  7. Excellent summer meal and pairing! I live in the Palm Springs area so we have Rose’ season about 9 months out of the year – I love finding great pairings, and interesting wines. I’ll be searching this Cava out for some weekend entertaining.

  8. I look forward to trying this recipe! I’m not a huge fan of sparkling wines, but I can see how this would probably be a nice pairing.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] foodwineclick shared “Steamers and Cava on the Porch” […]

  2. […] foodwineclick shared “Steamers and Cava on the Porch” […]

  3. […] foodwineclick shared “Steamers and Cava on the Porch” […]

  4. […] Peppers paired with Burg Layer Schlosskapelle Spatlese Kerner“foodwineclick shared “Steamers and Cava on the Porch“Confessions of a Culinary Diva blogged about “Aperol Spritz“Cooking Chat paired […]

  5. […] It definitely met our #winePW 2 theme of “refreshing summer pairings”. Get on over to foodwineclick to get all the tasty details of the […]

  6. […] paired with Burg Layer Schlosskapelle Spatlese Kerner“foodwineclick shared “Steamers and Cava on the Porch“Confessions of a Culinary Diva blogged about “Aperol […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: