To me, Valentine’s Day is for sharing great wine and food with the ones you love, whether they’re friends, lovers or family. This year, I hosted a fondue party because, why not? But after a snowstorm forced a few guests to cancel, it turned into a “Galentine’s” fondue party for four girlfriends on a frosty Friday night! It may not have been romantic, but it was fun and delicious. And a little chaotic!
Between three pots of bubbling cheese, boiling oil and melted chocolate, I was also trying to get everyone to taste through five bottles of wine. Hah! As forks flew and wines flowed, I tried to elicit feedback on the wines. Allow me to share some of the responses:
“I think that rosé is … wait, no, no … I lost my broccoli in the cheese!”
“Which one? The white one? Oh, shit … that piece of steak’s been in the oil for, like, five minutes – somebody, pull it out!”
“Is that my fork? Your fork? Why do I have five fondue forks on my plate?”
“Beaujolais what? Whose potato is this, bobbing in the cheese?”
“Whoops … lost my spud in the oil again …”
And that’s about as much wine input as I cold muster. So the impressions are pretty much mine (and really my friends will drink anything, so, whatevs.) This was a fun way to explore some special wines from France – the land of romance! – and Valentine’s Day provided the perfect timing. The French Winophiles group of bloggers will gather this Saturday morning, Feb. 17 on Twitter at 10 a.m. CST to chat about romance, France and wines. Join us! Just use #winophiles.
But because this is a wine blog, let’s talk about what’s in those bottles, shall we? Thanks to Lynn Gowdy at Savor the Harvest for coordinating four delightful samples.
♥ Pure Loire Rosé d’Anjou 2016: We started with this pretty rosé in a very distinctive square-shaped bottle from Famille Bougrier. Made from 50 percent Grolleau and 50 percent Gamay, it has the signature strawberry nose of rosé, and a fresh and fruity taste. It was good with the fondue, but I think it would be even better with something spicier, like Thai or Indian food, as it had a bit of sweetness to it. $15.
♥♥♥ Savoie Cuvée Gastronomie Apremont 2017: Holy what the what? This wine is made from a grape I had never heard of – Jacquère – and comes from an appelation that was new to me – Apremont — and it was DELICIOUS! Made by Jean Perrier et Fils, in the Apremont commune of the somewhat lesser-known Savoie wine region, in Eastern France (south of Jura and north of the Rhône), this white wine was light-bodied and fresh and sassy, with appealing notes of lemon and a flinty, minerally edge. It was an excellent pairing with the cheese fondue and at $11 retail, I would buy this by the case!
♥♥♥Vidal-Fleury Côte-Rôtie Brune et Blonde 2013: I loved this 95 percent Syrah /5 percent Viognier blend. Bursting with stewed prunes, tart red cherries, accented with black pepper, cigar box and a subtle earthiness, it was almost savory. It paired really well with steak fondue and would be beautiful with any lamb dish. Interesting side-note: Vidal-Fleury is the Rhône’s oldest, continually operating grower/negoiciant, and its first connection to the U.S. was a 1787 visit from Mr. Thomas Jefferson! Cool! $72
♥♥♥ Vignerons de Bel Air Saint Amour Cru Beaujolais 2016: This 100 percent Gamay from the Saint Amour Cru of Beaujolais was really fun. Fresh n’ fruity, it sang with red plums, tart cherries and a little black olive note. Roger Voss from Wine Enthusiast just gave it 87 points – I would give it more! $19.
♥♥♥♥ Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve 2012: Thanks to my friend Carla for bringing this beauty from Alsace – it’s a classic fondue wine! It’s got a richness to it, and a beautiful frame of acid that makes your mouth water, with stone fruits, like apricot and peach and a little bit of almond. Divine with cheese fondue! $21.
About The Fondue: I Googled my face off for recipes and tips. Here are my best ones:
Meat Fondue: Heat 2 1/2 cups of canola oil in your fondue pot until it is, uh, pretty hot (sorry, I did not get a temp on it). If it starts smoking, it is too hot! I cut up two beef filet mignons into bite-sized pieces and seasoned them with salt and pepper. Bite-size pieces of meat will cook in less than 20 seconds. We also did blanched broccoli and cauliflower in the hot oil – pretty delicious.
Cheese Fondue: I used this recipe from Epicurious. After you set your pot over a Sterno flame, if it gets too hot, extinguish Sterno and relight as needed. Also, I subbed Sherry for the Kirsch. To dip: blanched cauliflower, broccoli, tiny boiled potatoes, cubes of bread, crisp apple slices, pretzels. I mean, come on – what’s not good dipped in melted cheese?
Chocolate Fondue: Warm 1 cup of heavy whipping cream in a double-boiler. When it is warm (but NOT boiling; just when you see small bubbles forming on the edges), add 8 ounces of chopped chocolate and stir until chocolate melts and cream is incorporated. To dip: squares of pound cake or angel food cake, marshmallows, sliced bananas, whole strawberries, chunks of fresh pineapple, candied orange peel, graham crackers, shortbread. See note about melted cheese – what’s not good dipped in melted chocolate?
Check out these French #Winophiles posts, too!
Camillia at Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “L’Amour dans une Bouteille ou Quatre”
Susannah Gold from Avvinare tells us about “Love in the Rhone Valley”
L.M. Archer at binNotes shares “The Hedonistic Taster | № 36 | #Winophiles + Love: L’Amour du Patrimoine”
Jeff at Food, Wine, Click! gives us “French Wines for ‘His’ and ‘Hers’ Valentines”
Jill from L’Occasion takes us on a sensory route “Tasting Romance: French Wine and the Senses”
Michelle of Rocking Red Blog helps us “Celebrate La Saint-Valentin with French Wine”
David of Cooking Chat dishes up “French Wine Picks and Pairings for Valentine’s Day”
Lauren from The Swirling Dervish shares “How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Wines”
Gwen at Wine Predator shares “Sweethearts: French Wines and Pizza”
Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm shows us how to “Spice up your Love Life with Shrimp Etouffee”
Nicole from Somm’s Table shares “Cooking to the Wine: Domaine Chardigny Saint-Amour with Roasted Salmon and a little Romance”
Martin from ENOFYLZ Wine Blog tells us about “Celebrating L’Amour Du Vin With French Wine At The Table”
Lynn at Savor the Harvest shares “L’Amour du vin”