Pairings for starchy delights as well as fruity fall desserts.
Reims and Bialystok would seemingly have little in common: one is a cathedral town in Burgundy, the other an industrial city in northeast Poland. Yet the sparkling wine of the one — Champagne — seems to be made to go with the starchy, fatty, “hemishe” foods of the other. So when searching for the right wine to serve with kasha varnishkes, potato kugel or a schmaltzy potato knish, look no further than the sparkling wine section of your local wine shop.
A particularly good choice would be Drappier Brut Carte d’Or Champagne. This non-vintage Pinot Noir-driven cuvee has a straw color, a thick mousse of tiny bubbles and that classic Champagne profile. Endowed with a crisp — almost bracing — acidity (which should help cut through the fat of even the schmaltziest knish), this Champagne has flavors and aromas of apples, grapefruit, toasted white bread and chalk. Drink within the next three or four years.
Scores A/A-. ($47.95. Available at the Skyview Wine & Spirits, 5681 Riverdale Avenue, Riverdale, NY 10471,  SKY VINO.)
Should Champagne be out of the budget, a brut Cava or Prosecco would also be good choices to serve with the knish.
Parisienne gnocchi is a rich dish, one that needs a full-bodied white wine to complement it. A big, oak-aged Chardonnay, preferably one with a bit of cellar time, should do the trick.
Hagafen’s 2010 Napa Valley Chardonnay would be one good choice. This full-bodied, bright-straw-colored Chardonnay has a lively nose of apples, honey and fresh-cut straw, with a tropical hint of bananas and kumquats and a nice note of oak in the background. Look for flavors of apples, straw, bananas and honey with a hint of cream. Drink now and until at least 2016.
Score A/A-. ($22.99. Available at Queen Anne Wine & Spirit Emporium 247 DeGraw Ave., Teaneck, N.J.,  692-1555.)
Apples and wine don’t readily mix. The fruit is very rich in malic acid, which will coat the taste buds and make almost any wine taste acidic. (Indeed, a popular bit of folk wisdom in the wine trade suggests that one should “buy wine on apple” because if the wine still tastes good after having it with a bit of apple, you know it has to be a good wine.) So when serving an apple-based dessert, it’s probably best to eschew wine, or if wine is a must, serve it after the dessert as a digestif.
Instead of wine, consider serving an Apple Hot Toddy with your Apple Upside-Down Cake. Made with apples, honey and Calvados (distilled apple cider from France), and served in coffee cups or mugs, this toddy has all the right elements to complement a rich apple-based dessert, not to mention the fact that sipping a hot toddy is so pleasant on a cool fall night.
The Apple Hot Toddy:
This recipe is adapted from one found in the world’s first cocktail guide, Jerry Thomas’ 1862 book, “How to Mix Drinks or the Bon Vivant’s Companion.” While Thomas’ recipe calls for white sugar as the sweetening agent, I prefer mine sweetened with honey and like to use a rich varietal such as heather or fireweed honey.
¼ cup Calvados (Boulard and Busnel are good choices)
1 to 2 tsp. honey
½ cup boiling water
Core a Roma, Cortland or Golden Delicious apple and bake it in a shallow baking dish at 375F for about 30 minutes. Rinse an 8-ounce or larger cup or mug with boiling water. Quarter the apple, and place one quarter into the cup or mug along with the honey and Calvados. Add the boiling water and stir until the honey is dissolved. Then grate a little nutmeg on top.
Gamliel Kronemer writes the paper’s Fruit of the Vine column.
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