Blackberry Pinot Noir Sorbet (or popsicles!)
Ice cream for wine connaisseurs? Or – could red wine really survive the transition to frozen dessert? Let’s find out!
As avid readers knows, it is possible to make ice cream out of about every possible flavour: inclusions of alcohol (in one way or the other) do not only affect consistency and scoopability, but may also add to the flavours (provided, of course, that you don’t mind using alcohol in your cooking).
Today’s recipe has been developed by the New Zealand winery Kim Crawford and (at the time) New York-based ice popsicle maker People’s Pops, with the explicit aim to maintain the flavour profile of the Pinot Noir wine used. To paraphrase Crawford himself, the tartness of the blackberries will “highlight the natural fruit notes of Pinot Noir leaving a slightly tannic finish.” Sounds impressive, does it not?
In order to find out just how well this objective is achieved, I called on a select number of friends and wine lovers to hear their judgement. While it goes without saying that the winery just mentioned probably would insist that its own wines be used in the making, any good quality Pinot Noir wine should do fine! (And before any wine connoisseurs go ballistic – yes, I do acknowledge the flavour differences which exist across various wine-producers and wine-producing regions of the world).
Preparing the sorbet base: simple sugar syrup, mashed blackberries and red wine
As for most sorbets, the base consists of a simple sugar syrup – this time, however, prepared with raw cane sugar which adds a certain extra touch to the overall flavour.
You could, however, start by mashing the blackberries lightly and – particularly if your blackberries are less than fully mature – macerated them for at least 30 minutes or so (in other words, mash them lightly and blend in some sugar).
For the simple sugar syrup, mix the water and the cane sugar and make sure that the sugar dissolves completely (either by heating the sugar syrup, or by simply whisking/shaking it all: you can read more about the two different methods in the general post on sorbets).
Once the simple sugar syrup is ready (and preferably chilled), mix it with the mashed blackberries and the Pinot Noir red wine. Taste, and decide on whether you want to add some further red wine to the base (I did …).
If your aim is to make popsicles, fill up your moulds and leave in the freezer for at least about 4-6 hours (the alcohol in the popsicles will make the freezing take longer than normal). If you prefer to serve the sorbet as such, run the base in your ice cream maker until finished (possibly adding a little extra freezing time in the freezer afterwards, to firm it up a bit more before serving).
Mmm … very nice! The combination of blackberries and Pinot noir wine proved to be a very successful one. And to those who view ‘alcoholic’ ice creams with suspicion, let me assure you that the overall flavour decidedly is blackberry – but more complex, in a subtle, elegant way. Even though it should be clear to any taster that that there is something more than berries at play, the result is by no means blatantly “alcoholic”.
In conclusion, a very nice berry flavour which should please both wine-lovers and others. And remember – this recipe works equally well for popsicles as for stand-alone sorbet!
Unless you and your friends totally abhor the idea of wine, invite a few friends and let them guess what makes the blackberry sorbet so nice and complex! And if you serve the sorbet by the end of a nice dinner with wine, why not let the guests sample the Pinot Noir you are using with the food? It might increase their chances of guessing right, but is by no means any guarantee.
PS. I should perhaps add that the happy test panel were divided on how well the sorbet “reflected the flavour profile of the wine” itself: most considered the resulting flavour more a question of “something else/bit of both berries and Pinot Noir”. The panel also had trouble detecting much of the promised “slightly tannic finish”. But perhaps it came down to the specific wine used, or perhaps it was yours truly who prepared the batch – who knows?
Luckily, these observations did in no way detract from the pleasant tasting-experience! (as for the tannic finish, many people are put off by the perceived bitterness in red wines. And yes, I know that wine connoisseurs tend to love their red wines tannic. Still, I would assume that even those would prefer to sample that special bitterness from a glass of liquid wine, rather than from a scope of frozen wine-sorbet 😉
- About 125 ml (good ½ cup) dark cane sugar
- 120 ml (1/2 cup) water
- About 1-1.2 litre (4-5 cups) fresh, ripe blackberries (= about 500 gram)
- About 180 ml (3/4 cup), possibly + 60 ml (1/4 cup) Pinot Noir red wine
- Combine sugar and water in saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring until sugar completely dissolves. Remove from heat and allow syrup to cool completely.
- Lightly purée or mash blackberries. This should yield about 500 ml (two cups). Combine purée with 180 ml (3/4 cup) cooled syrup and 180 ml (3/4 cup) of the Pinot Noir, stirring well. Taste. If a stronger Pinot Noir flavour is desired, add remaing 60 ml (1/4 cup).
- For popsicles - pour into moulds, add sticks, and freeze until solid (about 4 to 6 hours). Unmould and serve at once, or store in plastic bags for future use.
- For traditional sorbet - run the base in your ice cream maker according to instructions. Once finished, possibly let the sorbet firm up a little further in the freezer before serving it.