Food & Champagne
The golden rule with pairing Champagnes with food is there are 3 food types to approach with caution as the intense flavours from these food types will overwhelm the palate and destroy the beautiful flavours of the Champagne:
Then you need to have an understanding of the grape varieties in your Champagne choice. Champagne is made from 3 grapes varieties – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Meunier. The Champagne may be a blend of the different grape varieties or may be a single grape variety. This will be identified on the bottle.
Therefore you need to know a:
Blanc de Blancs = 100% Chardonnay grapes
Blanc de Noir = 100% Pinot grapes (may be either Pinot Noir, Meunier or a combination of both varieties.
Non-vintage = is a blend of grapes from different harvests. The Champagne will be based on the year of harvest but reserve wines from previous years will be blended to create a particular house style or expression. If the bottle does not state if the champagne is a Blanc de Blancs or Blanc de Noir then it will be a blend of 2 or 3 of the grape varieties.
Vintage = an expression of the wines only from a particular year. May be any combination of the grape varieties.
Multi-vintage = some houses will blend specific years together to create a special Champagne which will be aged like a vintage Champagne but they want to express different characteristics which arise from blending particular vintages together to create a unique Champagne blend.
Generally Blanc de Blancs are the perfect breakfast accompaniment.
These wines based on 100% Chardonnay enliven the palate.
The clean fresh flavours of lemon, limes, minerals and salt will bring a sparkle to your day.
At lunch you will need to be considerate of the types of foods you are eating.
For seafoods – a Blanc de Blancs or Rosé Champagne would be appropriate
For red meats – A Rosé Champagne or a more Pinot weighted champagne
Once again you need to consider the foods you will eat.
The same rules apply as for lunch.
However, don’t think a Blanc de Blancs is the only match for seafood. I have enjoyed Rosé Champagnes with lobster, tuna and salmon. A youthful blended Champagne which is higher is chardonnay will typically go well with seafoods as in its infancy the Pinot will be fresher often permitting the Chardonnay to shine. When looking at a Pinot weighted Champagnes for meats, think about how the dish is prepared. The sauces and accompaniments need to be taken in to consideration. Some Champagnes will be more robust than others. There are Champagnes which have had contact with oak and they may impart a much bolder style of Champagne but you will find these Champagnes are typically perfect with Game.
If ever in doubt, always ask your wine merchant or sommelier about the make-up of the Champagne you are choosing. If in doubt the internet has made this information far more accessible so look up the Champagne House and you are likely to find the composition of the Champagne you are choosing. Like all things in life, this knowledge only comes with growing your knowledge.
Young people who might be enjoying the night life at clubs tend to prefer a sweeter Champagne. There are many houses now producing these types of Champagnes.
However, to finish off a fabulous dinner sometimes a Rosé Champagne can offer that perfect finalé. I myself am particularly fond of finishing off a perfect evening in this way.
However, if you are lucky enough to access old vintage Champagnes you will be rewarded with developed flavours such as truffle, coffee and chocolate flavours. Old vintage Champagnes can provide the essential aromas and flavours to finish off the night.