Foods to pair with champagne
Champagne is often treated as that standalone drink you have when you’re doing something else - whether mingling at a wedding reception, or drenching your opponent after emerging victorious from a tightly fought race around the streets of Monaco. But what about when you’re peckish?
Here’s four Champagne pairing tips to impress and one that will distress. Pick up a canapé, pour a glass, and let’s get to it.
Fish & salted dishes
“If it grows together, it goes together” is the classic pairing advice, though taken to the extreme here. The Champagne region sits on top of a fossilized sea bed, and the bones of crusty crustaceans combined with chalky, limestone soils lend a seashell-salinity to classic Champagne grapes. It’s perfect for fresh shellfish pairing, with oysters always considered at the top of the pile. After all, what’s a few million years between friends?
Whilst we’re still at the seaside, Champagne also does rather well with dishes that call for a splash of fish sauce and lime - give it a try with ceviche. It can be a winner with anything that calls for that light-fresh-zesty accompaniment, with rose and slightly sweeter Champagnes a good match if you’re planning to add just that little bit of chilli heat.
Champagne’s love of salt doesn’t start and end with the sea though; traditional method Champagne is also great mates with buttery, salted popcorn. Try it for your next movie night.
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Fresh and zingy dishes
Fresh shellfish? Tick. Fresh strawberries and raspberries? Double tick. It’s the refreshing sparkle for when you’re looking for a refreshing sparkle. Pictures of Champagne and strawberries must have graced a thousand honeymoon albums, and who are we to argue? It’s a heaven made match.
It can be that perfect foil for something a bit sharper, making a great dancing partner for anything dressed in a vinaigrette.
We’re going to get a bit nerdy here, but it’ll be worth it - promise. Champagne grapes classically struggle to ripen given the cool climate of the region, so they retain a high level of acidity. This, plus malolactic fermentation (which adds flavours of butter and cream cheese) and yeast autolysis (which adds aromas and flavours of brioche, bread and crackers) means it pairs excellently with any cheeseboard on any given day ending with a “y”. We could have spared you the technical breakdown and just said “it pairs well with a cheeseboard”, but the fun is that, like us, you can now bore people to tears with the nerdy details.
For other cream cheesy pairings see; anything you’re smothering with caesar or ranch dressing, or even spaghetti carbonara. Just don’t tell the Italians.
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Every advertisement you’ve ever seen selling the romance of champagne has asked you to picture The Great Gatsby and not Colonel Sanders. But get this, champagne’s dark secret is that it loves getting its hands on something finger lickin’ good as much as the rest of us do. In fact, champagne doesn’t want to be in a bowtie at all - it wants to be at home in the kitchen with the airfryer. It might have an effervescent energy but at heart it loves to kick back on the couch with beige food in a bucket, and secretly don’t we all want that for ourselves sometimes?
See also (but not limited to); fish and chips, croquettes, fried mozzarella sticks, and arancini if you’re kidding yourself that you’re too fancy for deep fried food.
Avoid sweet stuff
Look, we’ve been there. Stuck for inspiration and trying desperately to impress a date, you take a swerve at champagne and strawberries and head for something more decadent. You break out the chocolate. Or the ice cream. Or the chocolate ice cream. And you take a mouthful, and take a sip and… well, is that the time? We should probably see about ordering a taxi. For one.
Most champagnes won’t play well with sweet pairings - the sugar will make the sparkling seem too tart and acidic in comparison. Chocolate also has the added problem of tannin, which will overwhelm the delicate things going on with the wine. Stick to low sugar pairings with champagne and you’ll be getting that call back.
Feel like you need that champagne sparkle in your life? Come right this way.