Camille Braun Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rosé, France
Cost: $21-23

I don’t know about you, but I long for the days when we can safely gather with friends, or enjoy a nice restaurant meal. I especially miss wine tasting dinners that combine great wine with perfectly paired food.
I am hopeful that all will happen soon, but in the meantime we have to do the best we can to make home meals something special.
One of the things that make a meal special for Teri and me is sparkling wine. We always have a bottle of wine with dinner, but a bottle of bubbly makes those dinners feel like special events.

Sparkling rosé is even better because there is something bright and festive about pink sparkling wine.
Cremant d’Alsace is a great wine for those occasions because you can get a good bottle of wine without breaking the bank.
The Camille Braun Cremant d’Alsace Brut is a perfect example of that. Priced at around $22, it is packed full of fine fruit flavors, fun and elegance. It is a gorgeous pale pink or salmon in the glass with plenty of tiny bubbles that just keep coming.
On the nose I picked up notes of strawberries and cherries. The palate is delicate with a nice balance between rich fruits and acidity. I tasted strawberries, cherries and other red fruit. It is dry, but the fruit smooths everything out. The finish is soft, round and balanced.

The grapes are 100 percent Pinot Noir, aged in stainless steel. After secondary fermentation the wine rests on the lees for 18-24 months. Just like Champagne, the bubbles are produced by fermentation in the bottle.
The wine is only 12.5 percent alcohol, so you don’t have to worry about overindulging. It is the kind of wine you can drink all year, whether sipping it on the porch in the summer, or with a big meal in colder months.
In general, the wines of Alsace often are overlooked and undervalued. You can get great wine at a relatively low price from all over the region. When I first visited Alsace 35 years ago with a busload of friends, we picked up three bottles of Cremant d’Alsace for the equivalent of $5.
When I got back to the States, the price was a little higher, but still a bargain at around $12. Inflation has driven all prices up, but I still think this Camille Braun Sparkling Rosé is a steal.

Winery: The Braun family has been making wine in Alsace for more than four centuries. They trace their presence there to 1583, and the domaine was established in 1902 in Orschwihr, midway between Colmar and Mulhouse.
In 1960, Camille Braun took over the domaine and began to focus exclusively on selling his bottled wine. He and his wife Marguerite started with 6 acres that has now grown to 32 acres. Today, the winery is run by their son, Christophe, and his wife, Chantal.
The domaine consists of some 30 parcels, including the Grand Cru site Pfingstberg, documented since 1299, and lieux dits Bottlenberg, Lippelsberg, Effenberg and Meissenberg. The soil is mostly clay and limestone, and some of the vineyards reach above 1,000 feet elevation. The vines for this wine average 30 years old.
The Brauns have upped their commitment to protecting the land, turning first to organic farming and then to biodynamic practices in 2005. The cremant production takes place entirely on the estate.
They produce just over 8,000 cases a year of Crémant D’Alsace Brut, Crémant D’Alsace Rosé, Auxerrois Vieilles Vignes and Sylvaner Vieilles Vignes. They have won many awards in international competition.

Goes with: We used this beautiful sparkling rosé to turn an ordinary weeknight meal into something special. I have always cooked a lot, but with the COVID-19 restrictions we eat every meal at home. I try to vary the menu, but there are some staples we have every couple of weeks.
Tacos is one of those meals. Teri and I feel like we’re getting a healthy meal that’s tasty and easy to fix. We usually make chicken tacos, so we get protein and then all the toppings we put on give us some vegetables.
I sauté cut-up chicken breast pieces or I roast the chicken in the oven or on the grill to add a little extra flavor. Then I braise the meat with McCormick’s taco seasoning. They always come out great.
Then we stuff our own tacos with salsa, cheese, tomatoes, green onions and lettuce. We like the stand up stuff-and-stand shells because it’s easier to put in the meat and other ingredients without breaking the shell.
We think they’re better than restaurant tacos, but I do buy a container of salsa from Vallarta because it has such great flavor.
This sparkling wine would go well with nearly everything, but it’s especially good with spicy foods, desserts or with appetizers.

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