Champagne and art of living

Champagne and art of the table

What to eat with champagne ?

Dear Champagne lovers,

So you have prepared your reception menu and would like to serve a glass of champagne or two to your guests but you don’t know which ones to choose… Or maybe you have an exceptional champagne in your cellar but you don’t have any idea what to serve along with it?

Let’s start by saying that it is important to approach food and champagne pairing using only  food and drink of similar quality. Serve a medium or high end champagne with a high quality dish. 

I can understand why choosing the right dish to pair with champagne is a little disconcerting, let’s face it we are less used to pairing champagne than everyday wine with a meal.  Yet champagne is a wine in its own right, it’s the king of wines and the wine of kings! From the aperitif to the dessert, I have concocted a list of champagne wines that go well with different types of food. Make sure you have your pen and notebook handy  because I’m going to give you some great and simple ideas to help you treat your guests.

But first, note that the most important thing to remember when pairing food and champagne, is to avoid contrasting flavors or opposites that can alter the taste qualities of either.

Which champagne is the best to serve as an aperitif?

If you wish to serve champagne as an aperitif, you have plenty of options.

A Blanc de Blancs champagne with a dominant Chardonnay grape variety will go very well with appetizers such as: lightly smoked fish served on toast, mini brochettes or foie gras appetizers on gingerbread.

A blanc de noirs champagne, made from pinot noir or pinot meunier, should be served with a plate of cold meats and for light gougères with cheese, a brut champagne works well.

Which champagne should I choose to accompany my entrée?

If you choose a raw fish or seafood entrée, such as a carpaccio of Label Rouge scallops, oysters au gratin with champagne sabayon or a white fish tartar, accompany your entrée with a Blanc de Blancs champagne.

If you are serving an appetizer based on semi-cooked foie gras, accompany it with a vinous champagne such as a blanc de noirs or a vintage blanc de blancs, and if you are serving pan-fried foie gras, accompany your appetizer with a chardonnay-based champagne.

To learn more about wine champagnes, read my article on the subject: XXX (with link)

Which champagne to serve with main dishes ?

It is essential to understand that not all champagnes are gourmet champagnes. The vinous champagne, made from pinot noir, pinot meunier or a more complex blend, is the most appropriate wine to serve with food and can accompany an entire meal. Wine champagnes have salty notes, coming from terroirs whose distant seabed origin still contains limestone fossils that once lived in a salty underwater environment.

Which champagne to pair with poultry? For white meats in general, I would choose a brut or extra-brut champagne, preferably with a champagne made from a majority of Meunier grapes from the Marne Valley. This would be the perfect accompaniment to guinea fowl, poularde, capon, veal chop, farm pigeon or pork tenderloin.

If you prepare a duck breast with sweet potatoes, accompany your dish with a  champagne of substance and consistency, such as a rosé champagne, blanc de noirs based on Pinot noir. Personally I am partial to a champagne originating in the Côte des Bars, in the Aube.

Finally, if you wish to serve caviar or a dish of noble white fish, such as sole or turbot, accompany it with a Blanc de Blancs champagne.  If on the other hand, you have chosen a dish based on salmon, whether poached or in sauce, accompany it with a rosé champagne, as a bonus, the elegant marriage of colors will present wonderfully.

Which champagne to accompany a cheese platter?

Most champagnes go very well with cheese because their acidity contrasts with the fat of the cheese.

Soft cheeses (Mont d’Or, Camembert), with a bloomy rind (Brie de Meaux, Neufchatel) and regional cheeses that are carefully matured (Chaource) will go very well with a vintage brut champagne. Its slightly oxidized nature will accompany this type of cheese perfectly.

With a blanc de blancs champagne, you can offer your guests cantal, comté or goat cheese.

And if you serve a semi-dry or extra-dry champagne, a sheep’s cheese or a Savoy blue cheese will make an excellent match.

Which champagne to serve with dessert?

If you are planning a chocolate-based dessert, it’s best served with a brut or extra-brut champagne and for sweeter desserts, such as crème brulée, sabayons and pastries, choose a demi-sec champagne.

For spicy desserts containing cinnamon, vanilla or orange blossom, a blanc de noirs champagne is ideal.

On the other hand, if you are planning a strawberry tart or a dessert with red berries, a rosé champagne will be a perfect match.

No matter which mealtime you plan on bringing out the champagne for your guests, you  should hopefully now be more confident about serving and pairing champagne with your dishes.  To learn more, feel free to read my articles :  Is champagne good for your health, the history of champagne or the secrets of champagne wine-making.