Kristen Young, director of wine at the Waterfront Seafood Grill, has been committed to service from a very young age—she grew up hanging coats and shaking martinis at her parents’ dinner parties in Ohio.
After moving to Seattle in 2001, she worked at Campagne and Nell’s, developing her passion for fine food and wine. Before moving to Waterfront, Kristen opened Tilth with Chef Maria Hines, overseeing the wine program and front-of-house operations.
Here, a stupid question for Kristen Young.
I like to support Washington’s wineries but I love champagne. Are all the best sparkling wines from France, or can I get really high-quality sparklers made in the Northwest?
There are some excellent options for drinking and supporting local sparkling wine. One of the best that Washington has to offer is Domaine Ste. Michelle’s Luxe. Chateau Ste Michelle focuses on the traditional process of fermenting in the bottle, which gives the wine very elegant and fine bubbles. Also, the grapes (in this case, all chardonnay) are mostly sourced from Heily Vineyard in the Columbia Valley. Cooler climate sites like Heily showcase natural acidity and minerality. These grapes are treated with respect: hand-picked, carefully pressed, and aged five to six years.
Sold. Any tips for pairing sparkling wine with food?
Two basic types of pairings come to mind. First, there is the “like with like” matching, such as raw oysters served with a clean and mineral-driven sparkling wine. I would suggest the A. Margaine Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs.
Then you have yin-and-yang pairings—fried chicken and a brut rosé, for instance. Probably my favorite sparkling wine in the country is the Soter Brut Rosé from the Willamette Valley of Oregon. It is so versatile. You can pair it with oysters, truffled popcorn, beef tartare, salmon, poultry (especially fried chicken)… There are endless possibilities.
Fat and acid are best friends when it comes to food and wine pairings. Fried chicken needs the contrast of crisp and lively bubbles to cleanse the palate. It’s the same reason that French fries and beer go well together, or potato chips and Coca-Cola for that matter.
Should I serve sparkling wine with dessert?
It can be tricky. You always want to serve a dessert wine that is sweeter than the dish with which it is being served. Mismatching weight and intensity is a common mistake when pairing sweet courses. Lighter desserts like angel food cake or lemon souffle will work well with a Moscato d’Asti (a sweet, low-alcohol sparkler from Northern Italy).
Quite often, however, sparkling wines are too dry for desserts.