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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

A Russian River Valley Pét-Nat with Veggie Tempura #WinePW

Updated: Dec 9, 2023

This month I am hosting the Wine Pairing Weekend crew as we explore either an American sparkler or any of the previous themes of the year. You can read my invitation.

It's a busy time of year, so we are foregoing a live chat about the topic, but please so take a look at all of the Wine Pairing Weekend offerings for this final month of the year...

A Sparkling Pinot Meunier from the Russian River Valley

When I think of 'American sparklers' I always look to my favorite winery, Berkeley's Donkey & Goat. In 2009 they were one of the first to dabble with making domestic Pét-Nat, short for Pétillant Naturel. You can read a little bit about that in my preview for the event: here.

This bottle - Brut Nat v4Sparkling Pinot Meunier - is a non-vintage bottling of sparkling wine made from classic Champagne grapes grown in the historic Dommen Vineyard in the Russian River AVA of Sonoma. Donkey & Goat called it 'solera-style' so I did some research and was fascinated, as I usually am, but the Brandts methods.

The solera aging method entails only slightly emptying the barrel after aging. Pioneered in Spain, this method blends wines in various stages of aging, draining partially and refilling the barrel with the new vintage. So, the Pinor Meunier is aged in the barrel until the following vintage when it is blended with the new vintage of Pinot Meunier until they bottle and allow a second fermentation in the bottle. The tech sheet, says that this is a "multi vintage blend of reserve wines dating back to 2018", a blend of 75% Pinot Meunier, 25% Chardonnay.

The wine pours a golden straw color. On the nose, it smells remarkably like my favorite Champagne aromas of toasted brioche and acacia honey. On the palate, the wine is lusciously complex with winter fruits such as quince, apple, and pear as well as a pleasing tartness of citrus curd. This elegant wine would pair with just about anything. I opted to pour it with my first attempt at veggie tempura.

Vegetable Tempura

This was my first time making tempura. I am always up for learning new techniques and this lightly battered, shallow-fried is a delight. I will definitely be repeating this when the boys are home for the holidays. I know they will love it. Well, I will skip the mushrooms for D.


Veggies (choose whatever you like or whatever you have on-hand. I used...)

  • king trumpet mushrooms

  • shimeji mushrooms

  • green beans

  • broccolini

  • zucchini

  • (purple) Okinawan sweet potatoes

  • Also needed: canola oil, sesame oil (1 teapsoon per each cup of canola)

Batter (I doubled this for the amount of veggies I had)

  • 1 cup flour

  • 1 egg

  • 200 milliliters sparkling water


Prep the veggies by slicing into uniform sizes and thicknesses. You want like veggies to cook at the same rate within each batch. Pour oil into a large pot, to about 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch depth adding about 1 teaspoon sesame oil for each cup of canola oil. Heat until a small drop of water into the oil causes it to sputter and spit.


Make sure all of your ingredients are cold. Place the flour and egg in a mixing bowl. Pour in the sparkling water and gently mix with chopsticks. You don't want to over-mix.

When the oil reaches the right temperature, dip the vegetables in the batter, letting the excess drip off before placing it in the oil.

Fry until golden and remove vegetables from the oil. Transfer the tempura to a paper towel-lined platter to remove the excess oil.

Repeat until all of your veggies are cooked. Serve immediately.

That's a wrap for my December #WinePW offering. 2024 brings some changes to the wine pairing groups. We have decided to combine the groups and post monthly instead of weekly. Those who chose to participate will share an article on the second Saturday of the month. We will kick off January 2024 with a #Winophiles post.

Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm is hosting. She has asked us to look at French wines we were gifted over the holidays...but this could also be wines we enjoyed enough to gift to others or wines we wished we were given. As always, our topics have lots of flexibility. Those posts will be live anytime during the week leading up to Saturday, January 13th. Stay tuned!

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