People will tell you that their favorite season is fall, myself included. However, when we start to wax poetic about leaves changing and apple cider and boots and sweaters and pumpkin doughnuts, we often forget how seriously gratifying it is when winter turns to spring. Seeing leaves on the trees again, leaving the house without a jacket on, and daylight lasting past 6:00 p.m. are serious competition to the pumpkin spice latte. When I think spring, I think green. Green lawns, green trees, flowers beginning to bloom after months of desolation. When it comes to the food we eat, some of the most nutritious ones are green so I like to incorporate it into as many things as possible, especially spring appetizers. Some of my favorite appetizers include greens.
Spinach, Artichoke and Kale Dip (recipe to follow)
There’s one thing that all of these recipes have in common, besides the color green. They all pair well with Gloria Ferrer wines.
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards is Carneros’ original sparkling wine house, owned and founded by the Ferrer family of Spain. Named for José Ferrer’s wife, Gloria, the winery opened in 1986 in the breezy, now-famous region in southernmost Sonoma County. Gloria Ferrer is not only the first sparkling wine house in Sonoma Carneros, but also the first to bring back clones from France to plant their vineyard.
Thirty years later, with 335 acres under vine, the estate vineyards at Gloria Ferrer is known as experts in the production of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and produce estate grown still and sparkling wines that rival some of the world’s finest.
How’s that for a quick history lesson?
When I was a waitress in college, I didn’t know very much about wine, but there was one tidbit that I had picked up from server training that sticks with me today. Pinot Noir pairs with just about anything, so when in doubt, recommend that to red drinkers.
Gloria Ferrer Carneros Pinot Noir definitely fits the bill perfectly here, pairing equally a well with a seared duck breast as it would with a pretty cheese plate. This is definitely a wine that will stay in my entertaining rotation. The earthy and brambly Pinot Noir emits aromas of black cherry, cedar, and spice with a smooth mouthfeel and long finish.
For those who prefer white wines, Gloria Ferrer Carneros Chardonnay opens with aromas of peach and pear with pineapple and a hint of toast. The palate continues with the peach/pear with tropical notes and Meyer lemon, rounded out with a little toasty oak, but not so much that it’s overpowering. Gloria Ferrer Carneros Chardonnay is aged for nine months on French Oak Barrels to increase complexity and it pairs incredibly well with fresh fresh lobster and melted butter, a light citrus and stone fruit salad or a delicate goat cheese, as in the above asparagus galette.
Both wines are versatile and easy to pair with your favorite recipes. I love to make small plates and snacks for guests rather than committing to a full meal. Unless you really know your audience and are rest assured that your guests will like the entree you pick, it’s risky to make duck or tilapia without running into a food aversion.
This creamy dip was born from my obsession with the prepared foods aisle in Whole Foods. I love their spinach and artichoke dip, but it’s too expensive to be a staple on any Friday night wine and cheese menu. I created this version and threw in some chopped kale (pick it up from the salad bar at the grocery store and save yourself some prep steps). Even though it’s a little indulgent, it has lots of good stuff in it too — perfect for spring.
- 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and water completely removed
- 1 14.5-ounce can artichoke hearts, all liquid removed
- 1 cup finely chopped kale (I use the pre-chopped kale from the salad bar and then chop it further)
- 1 large or 2 small pieces of fire-roasted red peppers (from a jar is fine)
- 1 bunch green onions, white and light green parts
- ¾ cup mayonnaise
- 3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- juice of one small lemon
- salt to taste
- Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. Refrigerate dip until ready to serve. Keeps in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-5 days.