creating a cuvee cranberry sauce with Gloria Ferrer.

There are very few dishes that I am permitted to make this Thanksgiving due to the sommelier’s presence at home instead of in a busy restaurant.  Trust me, I am grateful for the break. (Plus, he’s a much better cook than I am!)  However, part of me still longs for the menu planning, the search for gorgeous new recipes, trends, and act of bringing beautiful foods to a harvest table.  Because cranberry sauce is a simple recipe that can be made days ahead, I grabbed the opportunity to add a new twist to our old favorite.  I know I am not one to share recipes, but since this one involves wine… and drinking wine… then why not?

If you have not had the occasion to make your own cranberry sauce before, you will find that homemade is more tart, less sweet, and more colorful that jelled canned sauce.  Gorgeous shades of red pop out from the bowl, screaming with life and vitality;  a beautiful addition to your Thanksgiving table.

This year, we are feeding ten adults and four children, so I am planning on twelve servings.  For this recipe, you will need a bottle of Brut Champagne or Sparkling Wine, an orange, sugar, vanilla, and cranberries.


Because you only use a few cups of bubbly, I wanted to also choose a wine that I would also imbibe. Therefore, after a few minutes scanning grocery store shelves, I decided on Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut Sparkling Cuvee.  The winery sits in the Carneros Valley, just south of Sonoma and best known for Pinot Noir, and has been planting there since 1985. Gloria Ferrer was the first sparkling house in Carneros, as well as the first vineyard to plant Champagne clones.   For those who did not know, Champagne or sparkling wine can be made from a few different varietals:  Pinot Noir,  Chardonnay, or Pinot Meunier.  A Cuvee is a sparkling or Champagne that is made from a blend of these grapes, or even from different harvest years.


Made from primarily Pinot Noir, with a little Chardonnay, this Cuvee sings with aromas of pear, vanilla, and raspberry, while the flavor of toast balances out a creamy finish.  A gorgeous find at $16, and a notable sauce to add to your sauce.  Perfect on its own or with toasted bread and pate, cheese, and charcuterie.


To start, add two cups of sparkling and two cups of sugar to a saucepan on medium high until the sugar dissolves.  Set to simmer.  In a separate mixing bowl, add 24 ounces washed cranberries, two teaspoons of vanilla, one tablespoon of orange zest, and one tablespoon juice of squeezed orange.  Once mixed,  add cranberry mixture to simmering sparkling.


Allow cranberries to pop and sauce to thicken, while stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Refrigerate for up to five days.  Freeze for up to two months.

There are other versions of cranberry sauce we have made with orange liqueur, marnier, or just plain with orange juice, however, I like this version made with sparkling wine the best.  The toast and vanilla flavors of the Cuvee blend beautifully with the zesty cranberry to create a tart, slightly sweet, and popping addition to your Thanksgiving table.   Something else to be grateful for.   Cheers.




Sparkling Cranberry Sauce


2 cups sugar

2 cups Brut Champagne or Sparkling Wine

24 ounces cranberries

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 tablespoon orange zest

1 tablespoon juice from squeezed orange


Add sugar and sparkling wine to saucepan, set to medium high.   Once sugar dissolves, set to simmer.  In a separate bowl, mix remaining ingredients, making sure cranberries are well coated.   Add cranberry mixture to saucepan.  Allow berries to pop and sauce to thicken, stirring occasionally.   Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Refrigerate up to five days before serving.  Freeze for up to two months.

oh how i love chevre

Today I was driving home from The Toy Zone and I heard the beginning of NPR’s Splendid Table. Lynne Rossetta was giving one of her introductions, her voice so smooth, it reminded me of a bowl of fresh whipped cream. Her guest? Anthony Bourdain, “..the author of Kitchen Confidential has just come out with another novel, In the Raw.”Are
we still talking about this? I thought.

A few hours later, I was watching a young Jonah Hill on FX, when a commercial for No Reservations came on. I guess the season premiere is coming on soon. I don’t remember this much promotion for any Bravo Show; guess the Travel Channel has something right. I have already set my DVR to record any new Bourdainisms. At this point, however, I am becoming a DVR Food Junkie. Top Chef, Top Chef Masters, Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, Master Chef, and last but not least, Treme. Tonight, though, I decided to partake in a recent love, Bottleshock. Every time I watch it, I discover something different. I think it bides well with my Pinot Gris, but I wish I were drinking a Cava or Proseco. None to be had. Not even on the rack.

Rheagan went to her first birthday party today. She wore an orange dress with yellow flowers. I tried my best to put her in this vintage red summer thing, so cute and poignant. Still too big. Alas, I have resorted to all the pink dresses. I try to mash it up with fabulous jumpers, in bright green polka dot and soft purple haze. I think she had a good time. We watched the other kids, she played on the tummy time mat, and she got to swing. I found myself wondering what kind of mommy I will become. Will I be the one who walks across the room, takes away the cupcake, wipes off the frosting, and then gives the cake back to my Rhea? Or, will I be the mother who has to scrub green frosting off of her fingernails? Maybe if I know where the cupcakes are from, or if I made the cupcakes, it would make a difference? These are seriously the things I think about.

So, now I am sitting here, after making a delicious tomato, Italian sausage, and pepper fettucine with goat cheese. I had forgotten my love for the nectar of el cabrito. Even though I used a sauce base I made last week, the dish was fabulous, and reminded me of my single days. I ate a lot of pasta back then. With fungi. And chevre.

What a Saturday. I’m lucky that the sommelier decided to join his chef buddies for drinks at The Monterey. I am extremely jealous, however. The pimento cheese and prosciutto omelet I enjoyed over a month ago still lingers in my mind. Maybe the sommelier will treat me to brunch tomorrow? Hmmm….