Posts Tagged ‘Wine Gift Baskets’
Sparkling wines are usually reserved for special occasions, but why wait? We crack it open when we’re looking for something that can easily transition between different food flavors and textures. And while yes, bubbles add a festive touch; they also act as a perfect palate cleanser between bites. The natural acidity of these wines helps brighten food flavors instead of overwhelming them.
When thinking about pairing wines, we go with two rules: “like with like” and “opposites attract.”
Light, fresh dishes call for a light wine, and sparkling wine fit the bill. Think of classic pairings such as oysters, caviar or cheese.
But bubbly is also wonderful with salty, fatty or fried foods -the exact type of foods we usually find on the Thanksgiving table which is why we recommend it especially at Thanksgiving – because the brightness of the wine balances out the richness of the dish. The wine leaves you with a refreshed mouth and prepares your taste buds for another rich spoonful.
Sparkling wines and Champagnes are food-pairing champions and provide both complimentary (like with like) and contrasting (opposites attract) notes.
Canella Prosecco, $20
This is a flavorful, fun and festive Prosecco from Italy’s Treviso D.O.C in Veneto.
It is characterized by its lively aromas and fruit and the ideal balance of acidity and sugar, which renders it both mellow and fresh. A lengthy sojourn on the lees endows it with concentration and intensity of flavors. Dry and persistent on the palate, it is a marvelous aperitif as well as an all around fish & fowl wine to accompany the entire meal or for pairing with fresh cheeses.
Champalou Vouvray Sparkling Chenin Blanc, $25
Another sparkling wine made from Chenin Blanc, this one hails from France and is made by the Champalou family. It’s aged two years in the bottle before release, giving it a pale, straw color with floral and aromatic notes.
J. Lassalle Brut Champagne Cachet D’Or, $44.95
A family-owned winery in the heart of Champagne, France, J. Lassalle is one of the only wines from the area that is allowed to complete malolactic fermentation. What results is a complex and diverse wine that totally delivers at this price point. Much more sophisticated than other mass marketed champagnes, this is true artisan champagne that will be appreciated and enjoyed with a variety of food.
Veuve Fourny & Fils Rose Champagne, $60
Founded in 1896, this winery produces grower champagnes that are characterized by super-fine bubbles, rich and deep aromatics and complex minerality that refreshes the mouth after each sip.
J. Lasalle Angeline Cuvee Champagne, $70
Coming from a small, family-owned winery run by a mother-daughter team, this wine is given great attention to detail at every level. It is a true grower Champagne. This wine is light yellow-gold in color, has smoky notes filled with citrus and pears and a long, lasting finish. This is truly bottled magic.
We have a large selection of Champagne Gift Baskets which can include any of these delicious champagnes.
Pick 3-4 Cheeses to serve. A general rule is 4 ounces a person but it depends on the time of day and what else you are serving with it.
Vary the consistency of the cheese: a soft fresh cheese, a semi hard and a harder cheese like Parmesan.
Provide three different milk types: a goat, a sheep and a cow’s milk for variety.
Serve at room temperature.
Leave the wedges whole with a knife to cut, or cut a few slices to get it started
Decorate the platter with grapes, cucumbers, apple slices…
A nice jam to serve with it would be fun, like Laura Ann’s Blackberry Bayleaf or Raspberry Habanero!
Serve with fresh bread. You can also add some simple crackers or a nice crostini.
Open a bottle of wine!!
A Fresh Goat Cheese or Crottin, Point Reyes Toma, Aged Gouda, Ossau Iraty Sheep Cheese
California Cheese: Cowgirl Creamery Mt Tam, Central Coast Creamery Goat Gouda, Fiscalini Bandaged Cheddar, Cypress Grove Lambchopper
American: Nettle Meadow Kunik from N.Y. (a creamy blend of Goat and Jersey Cow milk), Beehive Cheese Barely Buzzed, Utah (rubbed in coffee), Beecher’s Flagsheep, WA (voted best cheese by the American Cheese Society).
We have a great selection of cheeses in our store. Need a basket with fresh cheese? Try our Cheese 101 Gift Basket or check our Gourmet Gifts page for other delicious gifts.
Need help? Come to our store or call us at 855 313 5680.
When I first set foot in Fancifull Fine Foods and Baskets in November 2010, I didn’t know what to expect. I only knew they made amazing wine gift baskets, fruit baskets and many other wonderful gifts that I’d feel privileged to receive. I had received a call from my Mom saying that her friends needed help in their production line for the Christmas season. So off I went…into the world of gift baskets!
The teamwork that goes into every facet of the business was astounding. Working in the production area proved to be a delightful mix of controlled chaos and constant motion. All the baskets/bows are handmade to order, artisan foods are carefully selected to create a delicate blend of flavors and the finishing touches are never overlooked with any order. From the small individual orders for holiday gift baskets to the large and extravagant custom baskets, everything looked like it was fit for royalty (and sometimes it was!). The amount of dedication that was poured into every design made me feel proud to be a part of it all. It was a wonderful way to start my career at Fancifull, as it let me see the end product of all the hard, time-consuming work that goes into designing every gift that leaves the building. I knew that I had to learn more about this business, about what it takes to run every aspect of it all. It was only 1 month after the Christmas season had ended when I returned to Fancifull, only this time, as a permanent employee… an Assistant Buyer.
Many of my vacations truly are “working vacations”. Yes, we spend three weeks in France, but we are visiting wine makers, cheese producers and the like. Yeah, I know, tough job but someone has to do it. I can’t complain. I do work at hunting out products. Much like the truffle pig, I am always sniffing around, looking in local shops, watching what the locals are eating. Of course this often means eating and drinking many things to be assured of quality – I never just take someone’s word for it – but that is another story altogether.
When I eat a cookie I like in Italy, I will find out who imports it to the U.S. I am quite vigilant. This is just the best way to bring my customers items they might not find otherwise, such as many of the wines we have in our shop and in our gift baskets. Sometimes I find them through a focused tasting or meeting wine makers. Sometimes greatness just falls in your lap, almost like Divine Intervention.
Forces were at work when we discovered the lovely wines of Jacky Blot: Domaine Taille aux Loups (whites) and La Butte (red).
The Intervention came by way of a kindly Paris wine shop owner, Christophe Vidal. While we were buying some wine from his shop, I noticed some odd whiskeys from Japan which started up a conversation (and some sampling of said whiskeys, did I mention how nice this guy was?). In our discussion of the wine business, we mention that we are planning to visit a winemaker or two in the Loire Valley. As we are about to leave we hear a shout. He comes running up to us with an open bottle of wine. Turns out that the winemaker, Jacky Blot from the Loire Valley, had been in his shop earlier for a tasting of his wines. Jacky had left an open bottle but Cristophe didn’t need it, perhaps we could take it back to our apartment and enjoy it. We took our Taille aux Loups wine, happily skipping back to our apartment and marveling at the kindness of strangers.
showing us their sparkling wine.
The wine is a delightful surprise. Chenin Blanc grapes, light, crisp, wonderfully balanced. What a nice gift! Wally, ever diligent, looks up the winery and I can see he is contemplating, actually becoming determined, to find the winery in our travels. We move on to the Loire and are having dinner in the city of Tours when, lo and behold, the Taille Aux Loups is on the wine list by the glass. We have to order it, and yes, it is as good as we remembered. Okay, that settles it, we have to find this winery.
After a few days of trying wines in Chinon and Saumur (both great cities to visit and sample wine), we track down the winery Taille Aux Loups. We drive along curvy roads, follow the river (because we don’t know exactly where it is) along the south bank of the Loire east of Tours. Eureka, we find it! Jacky’s daughter Françoise greets us warmly as we come in from the rain, and sets up quite a tasting for us. We try sparkling wines, the whites that we love, and reds from nearby Bourgueil. It is quite fantastic, especially since we don’t even have an appointment. Jacky pops in and gives us an exuberant hello, but he is quite busy with a bunch of clients in another room. We write down the name and phone number of their distributor in California and buy some bottles to add to the collection we have amassed during the previous few days. We high five ourselves once we get in the car, feeling the excitement of another successful hunt. We rub our hands in anticipation of tasting this wine for our clients back home, and hope that the distributor, Adventures in Wine, carries the wines we want. We have never bought from them before, or even heard of them.
We return to our Paris apartment a few days later with our cache of prized wines. I really want to serve Jacky’s wine at our upcoming tasting in two weeks. I need to email my assistant Dave to find this company. As I am looking in my purse to find the business cards from the wine makers we visited, I find a card for Adventures In Wine! I have no idea how it got there. I don’t remember ever meeting the person whose name is on the card. There is no other business card from America in my bag, having cleaned it out before we left. Françoise at the winery did not give me a card, she just had me write down the name in my notebook. But here it is. Magic! That did it. We were obviously destined to have this wine in our shop.
The importer has the whites I want, not the reds, but they are ordering them for me. So with this happy set of circumstances, I am able to offer this fantastic wine to our customers in our wine gift baskets. And it all began because I had noticed some odd whiskeys at a Paris wine shop and started asking questions.
Terroir is an important concept in wine. I believe it also translates to food. Here is a good definition of Terroir from the Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil:
“This French word means the total impact of any given site: soil, slope, orientation to the sun, and elevation, plus every nuance of climate including rainfall, wind velocity, frequency of fog, cumulative hours of sunshine, average high temperature, and so forth. There is no single word in English that means quite the same thing. Generally viticulturists believe that soil indirectly bestows flavor (and relative quality) only insofar as it is one of the voices in the chorus of terroir.”
Wines from different vineyards, coffees from different plantations, cheeses from different regions, indeed all real foods everywhere exhibit the effects of their terroir. This is one of the things which makes the foods we carry in our shop so interesting.
It doesn’t matter what you are eating, whether it is a hamburger and fries or foie gras and champagne – it is the ingredients used that make each one marvelous or mediocre. At Fancifull that is what I look for when choosing what goes into our gift baskets. Fresh natural ingredients, organic, no odd chemical fillers. Because you want to taste the food, not the chemicals. I’ve tried cookies where the butter leaps out at you because it is so fresh, and then I’ve tried ones – in beautiful tempting packaging – that taste like cardboard. For example: Americans have a style of chocolate, as do the Europeans. Both have great chocolates. I can’t argue that a fresh truffle is better than a perfect peanut butter cup if both are made with good ingredients. And why argue anyway? Eat them both and enjoy. We will always be searching, tasting, and finding the best ingredients the world has to offer so you can send the best gourmet gift baskets.
Genuine, real, not fake. I like to travel because I like to experience authenticity in the world at large. For instance, I love being in the countryside of Italy and eating what is grown locally. I want to smell the air, meet the people, find out how they have been making this food for hundreds of years and why it is so good. This is true of anywhere I go, whether it be close to home or in far away lands. Even more so, I love to bring these experiences back to share with friends and family. I cook meals similar to those I’ve had on my culinary voyages and bring back jars of ingredients to taste. I find this is a better snapshot of a country than a photo. My joy in Fancifull is that I get to delight you with the pleasures I have found. I get to stock my shelves with the foods and wines I’ve tried and share them with you and your friends. Welcome to the family.
Gourmet gift baskets and wine gift baskets containing genuine artisanal wines and foods can be purchased online at www.fancifullgiftbaskets.com, in our store at 5617 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038, or by phone at 800.350.4437.
Terry and I spent this last weekend at Raleigh Studios as part of the LA Wine Fest. Guess what we weren’t serving? Wine!
With over 50 wineries participating, we decided we would provide much needed relief by offering artisanal cheeses and the world’s best salami. We were right; we were swamped.
The Tumelo Classico Gouda style goat cheese sold out the first day. Next to go was the Point Reyes Toma. Then the Soledad Goat Cheese with Honey and Lavender. We were also sampling and selling Beechers Cheddar, Vella Cheese and Beehive (Seahive Cheddar). In the end we had almost nothing left.
The story was the same with the salami. The Fra’ Mani salami is incredible. If you’ve never tasted it, call us and order some. It’s made by Paul Bertolli, famous as the chef at Olivetto and Chez Panisse, and it is the best salami I have ever tasted. Other favorites were the Olli Calabrese and a Wild Boar salami from Creminelli.
We are very proud that all of these products are hand crafted in the United States. We feel that a food renaissance is happening here and we’re happy to be a part of it.
All this talk about food is making me hungry. so I’m going to go have some cheese and salami right now. Of course, any of these things can be included in our gourmet gift baskets and wine gift baskets. But you really should take advantage and order some for yourself. If you’re in Los Angeles, stop in. You never know what we might be sampling.
A couple of weeks ago we received a surprise visit from Hervé Gantier, owner of Domaine Sainte-Eugénie in the Corbières region of Southern France. It’s always special when a wine maker seeks us out, and even more so when they have come all the way from Italy or France to visit a gift basket company in Los Angeles.
Corbières is located on the Mediterranean just north of Spain. Common grape varieties there are Grenache, Carignan, Mourvedre and Syrah. But here was Hervé offering us a wine that was 45% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Something along the line of a Bordeaux but with the added structure of the Carignan and the light fruit tones of the Grenache. Elegant, well balanced and bargain priced. Hervé was pleased with our reaction – we bought it! We featured it at a recent wine tasting here in our shop and our guests bought it, too. Boy, do we have fun here or what?
This wine can be selected as an upgrade in many of the wine gift baskets on our website.
We also have some of his Reserve! But more about that one later.
It takes a certain amount of courage to have integrity in this world. You have to stand by your principles as the crowd tells you to step down. You know what is right, but darn, you are so tired – can’t you just take the easy way out this time? But you can’t.
Cowgirl Creamery in California
When I talk to the people behind the handcrafted food we carry I am always a bit in awe. These people aren’t in it just for the money. Yes, they want to survive, and survive well. But to go through the work they do you have to have passion. Passion for your product, for the methods that work, for putting in the long hours and attention it requires to make it come out perfect every time.
I talk to cheesemakers who won’t make their cheese if they don’t feel their milk is good enough that year. They sell the milk instead. The better vignerons prune back their vines to get a low yield thus more flavor to the grapes. Yes they could let the grapes just grow wild and make a lot more wine. But that would mean making mediocre wine. So they can’t – it isn’t in their blood. In a world where the operating procedure is more and more for less and less no matter what the cost in quality, this is a refreshing change.
in Montpeyroux, France
There is nuance in food that comes from the land and the skill of the producer, but it takes someone who understands that to bring it out. You raise the animals well so you get the most flavor while preserving the earth, you grow organically, you keep testing until you get it exactly right – this is where passion comes in. Besides passion they also have pride. Get them talking about their handicraft and you’ll hear Rashida from Cast Iron Gourmet talk about perfecting the recipe for her Bacon Chutney, or Sylvain Fadat explain in his heavily French accented English how he dynamited this old lake bed because he knew it would have the soil for the grapes he wanted to grow. La Bonita California will expound on the local farmers they get their fruit from and why. And you taste that passion and pride in each slurp, sip and bite.
They watch you taste their product and beam like a mom with her child. And when you get it, when you get how good it is and acknowledge their job well done, you see the sense of satisfaction in their face, the smile, the light in their eyes. And that is why I love to carry artisan food. I could say these people need our support, that’s true. But it is so much bigger than that. We need their food. It’s wholesome, delicious, nourishing and one of the great joys of life. So we need to support them so they can support us with this vast array of wonderful food that has the stamp of the artist. Otherwise we’ll be left with nothing but the cheap bland genetically modified nutrient-lacking mega-corporation foods that are flooding our supermarkets today. This is a worthwhile venture, and a tasty one. Support your local artisans and they will support you. For life.
Wally, Terry, and John Williams
It was a perfect night to try a new wine. We were home from work early, meaning by 7! A wine shipment had arrived in the afternoon. Hadn’t tried this one before, but we knew the producer so we bought it without tasting. This winemaker warrants that kind of trust.
I took one sip and turned to look at Terry – with my eyes open wide and my mouth agape. She said “Oh stop being so dramatic.” “It’s not me,” I said, “it’s the wine.” She reached over, took my glass and had a sip. She gave me the same look!
So what is this giant blockbuster wine I’m going to tell you about? Some big fabulous California Cab? A muscular concoction from the south of France? Perhaps a beguiling Burgundy.
But no, it was a dainty Rose from Napa Valley! John Williams of Frog’s Leap Winery had once again surprised with his mastery of the grapes. A delightful wine with a pretty French name: La Grenouille Rougante. It’s a wine that seems to dance in your mouth. Crisp acids, pleasant tannins, enchanting fruit aromas and a clean bright finish that reminds you of a shiny spring day after the rain.
Thank you, John Williams, thank you.
We’ll certainly be putting some of this in our wine gift baskets, but he doesn’t make much of it. For a short time though you can send someone a special treat. Or just call us and get some of this unique Rose for yourself. It doesn’t have to come in a gift basket in order to wind up on your table.
Send me a picture of your look when you first try it, will you?