December is typically a month of celebration, and celebrations call for drinks. Here at RGF, we’ve got catholic tastes, and happily splash anything into our glasses provided it follows our in-house mantra: first, it must be refreshing! To that end, we’ve brought in a few new wines perfect for the holidays, and we continue to expand our selection of grown-up, non-alcoholic offerings. We recognize that this particular December is perhaps a little fraught, and that celebrations may take on a slightly different cast this year. But one thing is certain: 2020 is nearly over, and for that we can all raise a hearty “Salut!” Whether you’re drinking the hard stuff or staying clear-eyed as the new year approaches, we’ve got something celebratory for you.
THE REAL GOOD WINE EDITION
Casa Belfi’s ‘Frizzante Rosso’ is a delicious ruby-red sparkling natural wine from Northeastern Italy, and made from 100% Raboso, a grape indigenous to the area. The fruit is estate-grown and farmed biodynamically, and the wine is fermented spontaneously with native yeasts and bottled unfined, unfiltered, and with no added sulfites. Surprisingly well-structured while remaining super light and refreshing, this lively pet-nat shows off flavors of juicy red cherry and raspberry, with a well-integrated mineral profile and a low ABV (all of our favorite things). It pairs well with anything you can throw at it, and is delicious as an aperitif.
An equal parts blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, JL Denois’ ‘Tradition Extra Brut’ is a charming and bright bubbly, and a great alternative to more ‘serious’ grower-champagnes. The nose is floral and fruity, with a hint of smoke and spice, while the palate is harmoniously well-structured and tastes of lemon and exotic fruits with a faintly saline note. Extended lees contact impart this dry sparkling wine a bit of that nutty, toasty, yeasty profile that goes so perfectly with the winter holidays, and make it the perfect thing for toasting at midnight.
We can’t get enough of Sanbitter, our favorite non-alcoholic bitter aperitivo, especially when paired with Saskatoon from For Bitter, For Worse. Still made in Italy using real cane sugar, Sanbitter is herbal and bittersweet, essentially a non-alcoholic version of the iconic Campari-Soda, a drink typically taken by Italians in the afternoon to awaken the appetite before settling into an evening meal. The adorable 100ml (3.5oz) bottles deliver a lot of flavor in a small package (and make for a charming bud vase when empty), and it’s great with a splash of soda and a lemon twist or simply on its own over ice.
Saskatoon, made in Portland by local company For Bitter, For Worse, is a dynamic botanical symphony meant to take the place of red wine at the dinner table. We love it like that, but we’ve also found it makes a great mixer, and yields a particularly nuanced non-alcoholic Negroni when paired with Sanbitter and a splash of A’Siciliana Italian Blood Orange Soda. Keep it simple by combining an ounce each of Saskatoon, Sanbitter, and A’Siciliana over ice in a rocks glass, and garnish with a big grapefruit twist. You’ll never miss the booze.
Inspired by the sardine pastas of Sicily, this dish packs a lot of flavor for something so simple. It combines fresh fennel bulb and fennel seeds to mimic the more intense wild fennel Sicilians love. Use any good dried pasta, but short, twisty shapes hold the chunky sauce better.