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I don’t know about you, but as soon as I hear the word Champagne, I think of fancy events and casual sips between speeches. I don’t often connect Champagne with food in my mind, and as I’ve discovered, that’s a mistake.
As Dan Murphy’s Direct Import Champagne Buyer, Anne-Charlotte Ferrari, explained to me over email, the wine variety is actually incredibly food-friendly and pairing it with certain flavours will elevate the experience further.
“Champagne is the world’s food-friendliest wine because it has high levels of acidity,” she explained.
“Which means it tastes really fresh and crisp and also cuts through the oil or fat of most foods. A wine can taste flat if it has less acidity than the food, but Champagne has more acidity than most foods which makes it so versatile.”
Ferrari went on to explain that the range of diversity in Champagne also offers a whole lot of options, food-wise. You don’t have to stick to the high-end stuff, either.
“Champagne also comes in varying levels of richness of flavours, with vintage Champagne often having a lovely creamy texture and nutty flavours. This means you can match the right Champagne with almost anything, from French fries to a burger or a steak,” she said.
“Although some Champagnes ‘technically’ pair better with certain foods, we all have different tastes and preferences, so I recommend that you explore what you think pairs nicely with bubbles!”
How to pair Champagne with food
Ferrari explained that when you choose the right type of Champagne, you’ll find it works really well with everything from cheese to burgers. You just need to know which variety to select.
Below, she’s given us a rundown on Champagne pairings made in foodie heaven.
NV Champagne and cheese platters
A NV (non-vintage) Champagne is the variety you’ll find most often in bottle shops. And lucky for you, it pairs beautifully with the food you’re most likely to set it on the table with: cheese.
“Champagne’s ample acidity and toasty, nutty flavours complement most cheeses, ranging from fresh to aged,” Ferrari explained.
“The acidity or carbonation in the bubbles helps break down the coating of butterfat that cheese leaves on the palate, reducing clashes and leaving a fresh taste in the mouth.”
Brut Nature Champagne and anything fried
According to Ferrari, Champagne – especially a Brut Nature Champagne – goes with anything fried. Think hot chips, fried chicken and calamari.
“Brut Nature means the Champagne has no added sugar so it’s the finest French fizz in its purest form,” she said.
“The saltiness and crunchiness of the fried chips or chicken are perfectly balanced by Champagne’s crisp acidity and bubbles. The acid from the wine just cuts through that fried fattiness of the meat and just goes down like a treat.”
Want a bottle to test this out with? Ferrari recommended the Joseph Perrier Cuvée Royale Champagne Brut Nature.
Blanc de Blancs and seafood
“Champagne can only contain three grape varieties due to the strict production rules; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. A Blanc de Blancs champagne like Joseph Perrier Cuvée Royale Champagne Blanc de Blancs is made entirely from Chardonnay grapes.
“Blanc de Blancs Champagne tends to be more crisp and zesty with lemon and green apple flavours, which makes it the ultimate pairing with seafood. Blanc de Blancs and a seafood platter is just absolute perfection,” Ferrari explained.
Blanc de Noirs and Risotto
“A Blanc de Noirs Champagne like Charles Orban Brut Blanc De Noirs Champagne NV is made with Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier grapes which are both dark-skinned grapes, and tend to be full-bodied and fruit-forward.
“A Blanc de Noirs Champagne is a great option for cooler months, and pairs beautifully with comfort food like mushroom risotto or dishes with cream like potato gratin or chicken with cream,” shared Ferrari.
Vintage Champagne and burgers
Here’s where it gets really fun. Who doesn’t love the imagery of sipping on Champagne with a big old burger?
“Vintage Champagne tends to be richer in texture, with lovely buttery and nutty notes which makes it a great match for meat, including steaks or even a hamburger,” Ferrari said.
If you’d like an example bubbly to test this with, she suggested the Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne Special Cuvée 2015.
Rosé Champagne and charcuterie
“A Rosé Champagne, like Nicolas Feuillatte Champagen Grande Reserve Rose, goes beautifully with a charcuterie board, as the acid cuts through the fat of the meat, while the fruit-forward flavours balance the saltiness of the charcuterie.”
Now, who’s hungry?