NEW YEAR’S EVE BUBBLY & CANAPES

NYE is the perfect time to pop some bubbly. Whether it’s a Prosecco, BC sparkling, or a splashy Champagne, you’ll be sitting pretty with these easy to prepare canapés.

Below are recipes for some of the most popular bites from recent wine tastings I’ve hosted. The best part – no matter what kind of sparkling you serve, they’ll pair perfectly! These are the recipes I recently made on Global TV and CTV News.

Puff Pastry Roulade

Ingredients:

1 package of puff pastry

1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon herbes de Provence

To garnish:

Small wedge of brie or camembert cheese

Jam (such as cranberry or pear)

Chives

Instructions:

Cut puff pastry in half, and on a floured board, roll into a rectangle approximately 6” wide by 14” long

Brush the top of the pastry with water, then sprinkle with Parmesan, paprika and herbes de Provence

With the long side facing you, roll the pastry into a long thin cylinder

Slice into 1/4” rounds

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 450F for 8-10 minutes, or until golden

Once cooled, top with a dollop of jam, plus a small piece of cheese, and garnish with chives

Caviar Potato Chips

Ingredients:

Kettle-cooked plain potato chips

1 ounce caviar (such as Northern Divine)

1 small jar crème fraîche

Finely shredded lemon zest of half a lemon to garnish

Instructions:

Select round flat potato chips

Top with a small spoonful of crème fraîche

Add caviar using a non-metal spoon

Garnish with shredded lemon zest

Cheese & Grape Parcels

Ingredients:

1 package phyllo pastry

1 small bunch seedless green grapes

4 ounces Goat cheese

6 oil-packed sundried tomatoes, cut into thin slices

Vegetable oil to brush with

Instructions:

Lay two sheets of phyllo together, brush lightly with oil, then cut into 6 pieces (once lengthwise, then into thirds)

Cover unused pastry with a damp cloth

Lay each 2-ply piece into a muffin tin or onto a baking sheet, then top each with one grape, a tablespoon of goat cheese, and slice of tomato

Gather and twist the phyllo to create a parcel

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 400F for 7-10 minutes, or until golden

CHATTING WITH SOMM DLYNN PROCTOR

 Image of Magill Cellar Door Courtesy Penfolds

Image of Magill Cellar Door Courtesy Penfolds

Have you seen the documentary Somm? A great movie for wine lovers, it follows the travails (and wine-mad drama) of four aspiring Master Sommeliers, as they study, prepare and panic for the big exam, one of whom is Mr. DLynn Proctor.

DLynn is now a Brand Ambassador for Aussie giant Penfolds (#dreamjob), travelling around the world to promote, pour, and chat about their wines. Tonight in Vancouver, he’s impeccably dressed, just like in the movie, complete with natty tie and pocket square. In person, he’s animated and ready to pour while charming the crowds with a tip or anecdote, a born entertainer.

Before chatting with DLynn, I tasted the Penfolds wines on offer. The Hyland 2008 Chardonnay from Adelaide stood out as a winner, it had great texture and body, with a hint of vanilla on the palate. For those with a sweet tooth, the Penfolds Club Australian Tawny is a steal at $20. It’s all brown sugar, dried fruit and caramel, with over 200 component wines in the blend – there’s a reason Aussies call these wines ‘stickies’, they’re sticky like a good toffee pudding.

I also had a chance to taste the super premium 2012 RWT (Red Winemaking Trial) Barossa Shiraz, which retails for about $200 – nice wine if you’re buying! If you’re shopping for Aussie reds, not just those of the super premium variety, keep an eye out for the very good 2010 and 2012 vintages.

Q: What’s the your best tip for someone just getting into wine?

DLynn: Find what you like. Whatever you’ve tasted and liked, whether it’s wine with blue fruit, dry wine, tell your somm what you like and have them make a recommendation for you. Drink what you like, don’t be pressured into drinking what your friends talk about.

Q: What’s a region in Australia that you think we should check out?

DLynn: Adelaide, for their Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs.

Q: How about a top new area worldwide?

DLynn: Walla Walla, Washington.

Q: What’s the coolest opportunity that’s come out of the success of Somm?

DLynn: I’ve been in the wine world since the age of 20, 21, so I’ve had the chance to experience lots of things before Somm. The coolest wine related experience was in 2007 at Vinitaly, I wandered over to the stage where the band was on a break and just started playing the guitar. Before I realized what was happening, the band had joined me at the stage and suddenly we were playing for everyone. Very cool experience.

Somm’s sequel Inside the Bottle is out as of Summer 2015. Expect to catch up with familiar faces while delving behind the wine industry’s velvet curtain. Cheers!

SCOTCH WHISKY 101

Calling all Sassenachs with a thirst… Starz has just launched their big budget Outlander TV series based on the engrossingly bodice-ripping Diana Gabaldon books: a WWII era nurse is sent back to the Scottish Highlands of 1743.

Let’s raise a dram to the casting agents and location scouts!                        

Setting the stage for this very Scottish spirit, and let’s cover some Scotch 101:

Did you know Glen is Gaelic for “valley”? When you see Glenfarclas, Glenfiddich and Glenlivet, now you know it means Valley of …

To be called Scotch, it must be distilled and aged for a minimum of three years in oak within Scotland. Distillers are permitted to add caramel coloring (not all do), and can water down the cask strength to a minimum of 40% alcohol before bottling.

Single Malt vs Blended Scotch: Single malts are made solely from malted barley and are the product of a single distillery, though they can contain a blend of whiskies from that same distillery. A Blended Scotch whisky combines both malted barley and grains such as wheat and rye, that can come from several distilleries (famous blends: Chivas Regal, Johnnie Walker).

If you see a number on a bottle of Scottish, such as “20 Year Old”, that means the youngest whisky included in the blend is 20 (although a 20 year old can have some 25, 30, or even 50+ year old in the mix).

There are several main regions for Scotch: Highlands, Speyside, Lowlands, Islay, and Campbeltown. The largest number of distilleries are found in Speyside. Islay are famous for their smoky peat character.

Scots, Canadians and Aussies drink “whisk-y”, Irish drink “whisk-ey”, and Americans spell it both ways.

Scotch can be aged in old sherry, bourbon and port barrels, for extra deliciousness, which is called “finishing”.

If you see “Cask Strength” on the label, it means the whisky has been bottled without adding water. It can be a bit strong, so don’t be afraid to add some water to your glass to protect your precious tastebuds.

Thanks for reading, I'd love to know: what's your favorite single malt or blend?