I love bubbly, not just for special occasions but as the perfect starter to any meal. Rose Champagne is one of my favorites. Rosé Champagne is generally produced by adding a small amount of red wine during blending, a method not allowed for rose production in any other region in France. Another less utilized method of production for rose Champagne is known as saignee. Here, the juice is left on the grape skins, macerating the fruit in order to extract color. After a period of skin contact the wine is bled off (in French the verb “saigner” means to bleed) and winemaking proceeds. This style of bubbly can be an elegant, sumptuous treat and a perfect pairing for many foods including lobster (the ultimate in decedent pairings), but, not always in my budget. There are many alternatives a bit more pocket friendly but for quality French fizz outside of Champagne I recommend Cremant.
Produced in the same method as Champagne, Cremant is the name given to quality sparkling wines using specified grapes outlined by the region of production at a fraction of Champagnes cost. One of my recent favorites is Paul Zinck Cremant d’ Alsace Rose made from 100% Pinot Noir made in the saignee method with a short maceration on the skins. Elegant and well-balanced its aromas and flavors of strawberry, bright white cherry with just a hint of rose hips are the perfect pairing for many starters. To complete the pocket friendly theme try serving with one of my favorite and easy shrimp appetizers, shrimp salad in phyllo cups. Get ready for rave reviews on your savvy celebratory skills!
Shrimp in Phyllo Cups
- 2 cups shrimp, cooked, peeled, deveined and finely diced, about 1 pound
- 1 tablespoon minced green onion
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- dash of hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, for garnish
- 1 package Boursin cheese for garnish, room temp in piping bag (optional)
- 1 (15-count) package frozen mini phyllo shells, thawed, or homemade, recipe follows
In mixing bowl add mayo, lemon, green onion, salt/pepper, hot sauce and shrimp and toss gently to combine flavors. Chill for 1/2 hour and spoon into thawed phyllo cups. I really suggest making your own phyllo cups as they are so much better and easy to prepare. Garnish with chopped parsley and a small dollop of boursin cheese piped on top. Enjoy!
Mini Phyllo Cups
- 1 stick butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 sheets phyllo dough
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter with the garlic until fragrant.
Lay 1 sheet of phyllo dough on a work surface, brush it all over with the melted butter, sprinkle with chopped parsley, top with another sheet and repeat 3 more times until 4 sheets have been used. Cover the phyllo dough with a damp kitchen or paper towel while it sits on the counter to prevent it from drying out as you work. Repeat the stack with the remaining sheets so you end up with 2 stacks. With a large chef knife, cut each stack into 12 equal pieces, 4 by 3 inches. Lightly spray a mini muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line each muffin cup with 1 of the phyllo pieces, gently pressing it down into the edges to form a cup. Repeat to make 24 mini phyllo cups.
Bake in a preheated oven for about 10 minutes or until light golden brown and crisp. Remove from oven and cool completely before filling.
Yield: 24 mini phyllo cups