Champagne and Food
A few years ago people used to think that you drank white wine with fish and red wine with meat and that was it. Full stop, period, end of discussion.
Since then a lot has changed and these days just about anything goes, but despite this it’s still very uncommon for people to consider serving champagne with a meal. Champagne is still considered a drink for celebrations, toasts and for drinking before a meal as an aperitif, but if you never try champagne with food you’re missing out on a great experience.
For one thing, serving champagne with each course makes for a fabulous meal that your guests may never have experienced and will remember for a long time to come, so give it a try, at least once.
Second, Champagne is such as diverse region that it deserves to be thought of in the same way as any other wine region. Within the broad category there’s a whole host of different makers and different styles so you can find one to suit most types of food.
With a light, white fish dish such as sushi, a Blanc de Blancs champagne, made with Chardonnay grapes only, will have a fresh, zingy flavour to it that will be in balance with the delicate flavours of the food.
Blanc de Noirs champagnes made only with black grapes, and many Vintage champagnes, have more body and depth so they stand up well to stronger flavoured dishes: poultry, veal, pork, risotto and mushrooms to name but a few.
If you love a good steak then I admit that it’s hard to find a champagne to go with it and a full red wine will be a better choice, but don’t rule out champagne with meat altogether.
The gorgeous red fruit flavours and aromas in some rosé champagnes, particularly vintage rosé or non-vintage with a high proportion of black grapes in the blend, will go very happily with much richer, more flavourful dishes such as roast duck and pigeon which you could serve with something such as roasted figs to accentuate the rich fruitiness.
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous try a sweeter demi-sec champagne. You can probably imagine that it is absolutely gorgeous with sweet desserts – try demi-sec with crêpes suzette covered with caramelised oranges for example. You may be surprised to know that demi-sec champagne is fabulous with soft blue cheese as well; the luscious textures complement each other perfectly. Sweet champagne also goes well with international foods such as guacamole and with many thai dishes.
In general terms, when you’re trying to match food and wine, any wine, it’s much too simplistic just to consider the type of meat or type of fish because the way you cook a dish and the seasonings and accompaniments you use will have a much greater influence on the result. For example, a fish grilled, or barbequed, until it’s golden and crispy on the outside, doesn’t have the same texture, or flavour, as the same fish poached in a broth, so different wines will be needed.
The important thing is to experiment with your wine and whilst you’re at it, be sure to include some champagne – if you do you’re in for a real treat.