Happy Birthday, Kathy! I found some perfect pairings of wine and chocolate birthday cake after watching WLTV yesterday. Wish I could bring you both today!
The first was Coutier Brut Rose, a French sparkler with a creamy strawberry flavor. Another was a Clos Du Bois Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 that has a dark cherry and cocoa aroma with a hint of vanilla. The third wine mentioned was a banyuls.
It is a fortified aperitif or dessert wine made from old vines cultivated in terraces on the slopes of the Pyrenees in the Roussillon wine region of Southern France.
Most of these wines are red, although some white wines are produced. Permitted grape varieties are Grenache Noir (at least 50%, 75% for the Grand Cru), Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc and Carignan, and also (but rarely used) Macabeu, Muscat and Malvoisie.
The production process, known in France as mutage, is similar to that used to make Port. Alcohol is added to the must to halt fermentation while sugar levels are still high, preserving the natural sugar of the grape. The wines are then matured in oak barrels, or outside in glass bottles exposed to the sun, allowing the wine to maderise. The maturation period is a minimum of ten months for Banyuls AOC, and thirty months for Banyuls Grand Cru AOC. The resulting wine bears a similarity to port but tends to be lower in alcohol (~16% vs. ~20%).
How ever you celebrate, I hope today is special!