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!
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!
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!
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” sticking 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!
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.