Hi, it’s Heather! This post is actually an excerpt from Local Bubbly, an article I wrote for CITIZEN, a new Rochester area magazine. In the first part of the article (which can be seen in our post The Sparkling Finger Lakes), I shared our tasting notes on three local sparkling wines – Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs, Swedish Hill Riesling Cuvée, and Hunt Country Chardonnay Champagne. While all of these sparkling wines were fantastic on their own, during our tasting session, we decided to mix a bit of flavored simple syrup in with each of the wines to create a trio of tasty cocktails.
Making simple syrup is as easy as the name implies. Combine equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan. (We typically use one cup of each, and sometimes use brown sugar rather than white.) Bring the mixture just to a boil, reduce the heat, and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let it cool completely. We pour ours into bottles and store it in the refrigerator. It has become a staple in our kitchen!
To go with our three sparkling wines, we decided to make three different flavored simple syrups – rhubarb, cranberry cinnamon, and brown sugar orange. Flavoring the simple syrups was quite easy. Once the sugar had dissolved, we stirred in the necessary ingredients. Chopped rhubarb, cranberries that had been sprinkled with cinnamon and roasted for about an hour at 350º, and an orange peel with pith removed (add about half the juice of the orange to the simple syrup, as well) were our ingredients of choice. It was then time to take each of our three saucepans off the heat and let them sit for an hour. We strained the simple syrups into containers, let it all come to room temperature, and chilled it before use. Feel free to get creative with your flavoring, using nearly any spice, herb, or fruit you desire.
To create the cocktails pictured, pour one to two ounces of flavored simple syrup (depending on how sweet you like it) into a champagne flute then top it off with sparkling wine.
The Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs mixed nicely with the rhubarb-flavored simple syrup. The Swedish Hill Riesling Cuvée was superb with the cranberry cinnamon simple syrup. Our favorite combination was the Hunt Country Chardonnay Champagne with the brown sugar orange simple syrup. The deep caramelized flavors of this wine paired nicely with the brown sugar and citrus of the simple syrup, making for a deliciously decadent sparkling treat.
We hope you get a chance to enjoy some of the many delicious sparkling wines that our region has to offer, whether on their own or in your favorite drink recipe. And, if you haven’t done so already, pick up a free copy of CITIZEN. Cheers!