August 9, 2006

Matching Champagne and Food

By Andrew Barrow In Articles, Food and Wine

Rhubarb and Mackerel - superb with champagne

What to eat with Champagne? There seems to be little available online in regards to specifics matches of champagne styles with food; excpet for a little on canapes and such little bites. There is a piece on umami and Champagne by Fiona Beckett (who recommends such foods as mature Parmesan or grana padano, porcini and shitake mushrooms, the skin and juices from a roasted chicken and crisp streaky bacon). Here are a few further ideas:

  • Blanc de Blanc Champagne with oysters, crustaceans and gently flavoured white fish. A little age adds depth and so can cope with with cream and spice-perfumed dishes.
  • Blanc de Noirs (no Chardonnay) Champagnes are suited to lighter meat dishes (pigeon breast, partridge, veal, pork) With age they can be paired with richer fare (kidneys or venison)
  • Non-Vintage Champagnes especially young and fruity versions are recommended with cheeses such as Beaufort, Gruyère, Emmental. Older non-vintage Champagnes can cope with dishes with darker, nuttier flavours. Oscietra caviar is suggested.
  • Vintage Champagnes with bottle age are great with black truffle-scented foods and with cheeses such as Parmesan and lightly smoked foods. Younger vintage Champagnes can provide a foil for a wide variety of dishes – fishes with rich sauces to poultry (especially duck), light meats (veal and pork) and many cheeses (Chaource and Lancashire). Japanese dishes are also suggested.
  • Non-Vintage Rosé – The French trend of serving these with red berry based sweet dishes seldom work, the dish being too sweet, keep the level of sugar down in the dish, and major on red berries, and non-vintage rosé can make a good pairing. Also prawns, lobster and other seafood are good.
  • Vintage Rosé – aged vintage rosé Champagnes have a rich, savoury character that can pair with meat dishes, and the power to stand up to high levels of herbs and spices specifically basil, mint and coriander as well as Japanese dishes.
  • Demi Sec Champagnes – these go superbly with savoury dishes foie gras is an obvious example. If there is an edge of sweetness to the food (caramelisation, a fruit ingredient or sugar, like many classic Thai recipes) then this style can provide a better match than dry. Dessert dishes too of course, but only if not too sweet

You may have expected the content of the Champagne houses flash-based websites to offer plenty of suggestions; but no. Of the ten different producer sites I dived into the food matching suggestions were generally rudimentary, as is the Champagne regions promotional website.

Champagne Gosset stood out with a whole list of suggestions including recipes. These covered starters (such as Cheese Pastry Gougere with Wild Mushrooms for their Brut Excellence), main courses (Apple Stuffed Duck with their Grande Reserve was one) and dessert (Dacquoise with Walnuts and Raisins with their Grand Millesime).

  • Moet – with their vintage they recommend grilled King Prawns marinated in citrus fruit (lemon, grapefruit, orange) or smoked haddock with aniseed butter and pureed fennel. With their vintage rosé scallops, roasted, with grilled red peppers and chopped almonds.
  • Taittinger has Lamb with Chanterelles, Crayfish, Mushroomm Quiche for food to go with their Brut Champagne and White Tuna Capaccio with Truffles with the vintage version.
  • Duval Leroy suggests a saddle of young rabbit, veal chops and soft cheeses (Brie, Camembert, Comte) with the Brut and white meats in cream sauce, unsmoked salmon marinated in lime with the vintage and almond gallete, bread and butter pudding, jam pancakes and apple and quince tart with the Demi-Sec. [A little on food matching in an interview with Carol Duval-Leroy on StarChefs]

Other food matching with Champagne suggestions cobbled from various sources include

  • With blinis and caviar
  • Eggs Benedict, Scrambled Eggs, Omelettes with luxury fillings such as crab, lobster etc
  • Fish and Chips but no vinegar
  • Chinese dishes such as spring rolls, prawn toasts and wontons. Suggest also Lampiang Togue would be good too
  • Rhubarb Sauces such as the one accompanying Mackerel
  1. sam August 9, 2006

    was a plate of fish’n’chips without vinegar???
    this is great Andrew – i will post a link to it in my announcement.

  2. Jeremiah August 16, 2006

    I think a key to pairing dry champagne with food is to keep it salty. Oysters and caviar both have that sea breaze saltiness that is perfect for crispness and minerality. I really liked the bacon idea. As long as the bubbly could stand up to the smoke flavors, that could be very interesting. I recommend trying a demi-sec or even sweet sparkler with spicy Indian food. I think, potentially, this could be the equivilant to the German riesling with Thai food pairing. I had some amazing chicken tikka masala take-out from this Indian place down the street from my apartment. I paired with a Moscato D’ Asti (Moscato D’ Asti, Saracco 04) which was mindblowing. I highly recommend.


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