Joining the ranks of Groundhog Day, President’s Day, and Valentine’s Day is a recently-founded, completely unofficial, and frankly fabulous new midwinter holiday: Galentine’s Day! Celebrated on February 13th, it was born as a sitcom episode and has since begun to work its way into popular culture. As we’re approaching the dead of winter (and the end of Dry January!), it’s an excellent time to throw a Galentine’s Day party!
We have all sorts of holidays celebrating lovers, mothers, teachers, fathers, even holidays for donuts and pizza… but a holiday strictly devoted to celebrating the importance and value of female friendships has, until recently, been nonexistent. Studies show that women with solid female friendships have higher serotonin levels, less stress, and live 22 percent longer than those who don’t have these bonds.
Those of us who have weathered rocky life seasons know that when the going gets tough, more often than not, it’s your female friends that are the ones actually showing up. And whether you’re single, in a relationship, or in a ‘situationship,’ a Galentine’s Day party includes everyone.
So gather your girls and celebrate! The perfect way to do that? A soirée of sparkling wines paired with delicious bites.
Sommelier-Approved Tips for a Delicious Galentine’s Day Party
Choosing Your Wines: Opt for Sparkling
Nothing is more festive than a bottle of bubbles–well, except maybe four bottles of bubbles! To have a dynamic tasting experience, I put together a ‘flight’ of different sparkling styles. There’s so much range and diversity within the sparkling wine category that can play well with various dishes from savory to sweet, and please all the different palates in your group! Pick some lean and elegant bottles, some richer, more decadent styles, and make sure you have both white and rosé representing!
For this menu, I went with a range of cuvées from Bouvet Ladubay, one of France’s most significant producers of méthode traditionnelle sparkling wine since 1851. The estate is located in the Saumur region of the central Loire Valley, southeast of Angers… and while they have a lot of history, the winery has been updated with state-of-the-art technology. They create pristine wines that not only provide exceptional quality but are also great value! All of the wines for this tasting range from $15.99-$21.99 per bottle – so I can stock up on multiples of each (which, if you know my girlfriends, is absolutely necessary), and my budget will go a little farther than if I sprang for Champagne.
Saumur is ideal for making sparkling wines. Its cool climate allows just the right amount of acidity to make world-class bubbles. The primary soil type is ‘tuffeau,’ a chalky, sandy limestone, perfect for the Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc – the primary grapes used in these blends. And in keeping with our women-empowered theme, the winery is currently helmed by CEO Juliette Monmousseau, the fifth generation of her family to work at Bouvet Ladubay. One more reason these are the wines you should be serving for your Galentine’s Day party.
What to Pair Your Bubbles with on Galentine’s Day
I love the casual vibe of pairing each wine with a small bite rather than a coursed meal. That way, guests can try everything and even go back for more of their favorites!
Bouvet Ladubay Crémant de Loire + Potato Chips with Crème Fraiche and Caviar
Bouvet Ladubay sources fruit from more than 100 plots in the Loire Valley from partner winegrowers with longstanding relationships with the winery. This hand-harvested Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay blend has pretty floral aromas and apple and lemon notes. It’s aged in stainless steel instead of oak, so it’s exceptionally bright and crisp with a very focused acidity– which made me crave something salty and crunchy to pair.
If there’s a better party snack than potato chips and caviar, I haven’t heard about it! Choose a crunchy, hearty chip for this (love a Kettle Brand or a Cape Cod). Basic salmon roe or black lumpfish from your local market will work just fine for the caviar. If you’d like to get fancy, order some Italian caviar from Calvisius. This is an easy one to prepare, too: either dollop each chip with a dab of crème fraiche and a little spoonful of caviar OR just put out the bowl of chips with the accompaniments and let everyone DIY it. The crunchy, salty, creamy, tangy bite is perfectly complemented by the crisp and elegant sip!
Bouvet Ladubay Signature Brut + ‘Everything’ Gougeres with Whipped Goat Cheese
The Signature Brut is elegant like the Crémant, but there’s a higher proportion of Chenin Blanc in the blend, making this wine slightly richer and rounder: think, yellow apple and poached pear notes.
I adore gougeres fresh from the oven– they are a choux pastry cheese puff with Gruyere in the batter, and they’re almost popover-like in texture. The perfect wine-tasting bite. Since they puff up with a hollow center when you bake them, they can then easily be filled! Whenever I think of the Loire Valley, I think of goat cheese: they make the best chevre in the world, and when thinking of pairings, always remember: ‘what grows together, goes together.’ The tang of the creamy goat cheese is harmonious with the Signature Brut. I used the classic Alain Ducasse Gougeres recipe – but just for fun, I sprinkled some Everything Bagel Seasoning right before I popped these in the oven. They came out puffy and light, with the crunchy topping – I let them cool and then filled them with the chevre. Truly a sublime pairing with the richer style of the Signature Brut.
Bouvet Ladubay Rosé Excellence + Spicy Shrimp Corn Fritters
My girlfriends are huge sparkling rosé lovers, and I knew they would fall in love with this one! Made from Cabernet Franc grapes, the color is bright, cheerful salmon pink, with fresh raspberry and lively red currant flavors. The ripe fruitiness and juicy mouthfeel of the wine are naturally fit for pairing with spicy dishes.
This pairing is a real crowd-pleaser: crunchy, fluffy corn fritters are topped with warm shrimp tossed in spicy chili, garlic, and ginger glaze. Sprinkle some chives on top for freshness and color – these are a delicious pairing and satisfyingly filling if you help yourself to two or three.
Bouvet Ladubay Trésor Rosé + Strawberry White Chocolate Pistachio Parfaits
Trésor Rosé is a Saumur AOC: all of the Cabernet Franc grapes for this cuvée are sourced within Saumur, with grapes pressed in the vineyard and the juice transported immediately to the winery, where the first fermentation is done in oak barrels. This gives a creamy vanilla quality to the wild red fruit flavors. This is a sparkling rosé with more intensity, and grand finale on your tasting flight when paired with dessert.
Light and not too sweet, fresh berries are a natural for a Galentine’s Day soirée. I combined white chocolate ganache with fresh whipped cream for the easiest 2-ingredient white chocolate mousse to make these pretty parfaits. Layer fresh berries on top (I used strawberries, but raspberries would be lovely as well), top with a generous spoonful of whipped cream, and finish with a sprinkling of chopped pistachios for color and crunch. Cheers!