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Holiday Pairings with Tree Nuts, Cheese and Bubbles

The holidays are a time of celebration, gathering with friends and family, and sharing food together. Nuts, cheese and bubbles make perfect partners to celebrate the season. The variety of cheeses, nuts and sparkling wines available, provide a veritable playground to create your own designer smorgasbord.

Sparkling wines from around the world just seem to “work” with the cheeses from the same region or country. And, selecting nuts to add depth of flavor and contrast in texture gives you the ability to make a truly memorable platter for your guests. Here are some cheese, nut and sparkling wine partnerships to inspire your next holiday party:

Manchego, Almonds and Cava – Spain’s rich, round and slightly sharp flavored Manchego, is wonderful with Cava and almonds. Cava is Spain’s signature sparkler and very affordable – and if you go for the Reserva, buy a Manchego with more age to stand up to the wine’s complexity. Traditionally in Spain, you would be served Marcona almonds, but roasted almonds, and Brazil nuts make a wonderful pairing too.

Burrata, Pistachios, Roasted Tomato Fig Compote and Prosecco – Whether you want to go all out and get an Italian Franciacorta (Italy’s answer to true Champagne) or a simple fresh and lively Prosecco, a rustic bruschetta topped with fresh burrata or mozzarella, a piquant tomato fig compote and the crunch and sweet earthiness of pistachios is pure magic. Fresh figs are ideal, but if you can’t find any, dried mission figs add a lovely depth. Pine nuts are great in this dish too!

Washed Rind Cheese, Hazelnuts and Champagne – If you want the true Champagne experience, try a cheese made in the region such as Langres or Epoisse, a drizzle of honey and warm hazelnuts. Brie and Camembert are also lovely with Champagne, as are macadamia nuts, the yeasty dry sparkles complimenting the rich nuts. A side of quince paste would be great instead of honey too.

Blue Cheese, Walnuts and Sparkling Rose – Opt for a softer, milder blue such as Cambozola, which is wonderful with walnuts. Their earthy notes blend well with the rich cheese. Cambozola is from Germany, so a great regional pairing would be an Alsatian Brut Rose, dry and complex, the fine bubble playing with the rich textures. Some sliced pears would be lovely too.

Cheddar, Pecans and Sparkling Pinot Noir – Come home to America with local hard cheese such as cheddar, pecans (roasted or spiced), and a sparkling wine made with Pinot Noir – rich, dry, elegant, and full bodied to stand up to the salty, sweet mix. A drizzle of truffle honey would add to the pairing as well.

Happy Holidays from the Nutty Chef!

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