Champagne and Christmas food pairings

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Most of us probably associate Champagne with celebrations and parties. The clinking of glasses, the making of toasts, the enjoyment of this delicately bubbly wine in all its nuances. It’s often drunk alone, or with some finger food, as a refreshing aperitif, with its crisp acidity stimulating your appetite for a meal to come.

 

However, you shouldn’t just think of Champagne simply as an aperitif wine, rather its wonderful diversity of styles and flavour nuances make it a perfect pair for many foods. Its acidity, saline minerality from Champagne’s renowned chalk soils and umami notes from lees ageing and autolysis means it can complement and contrast with the salty, fatty, creamy and umami flavours found in food. So why not pair it with food at Christmas?

Brunch fizz

Eggs are usually difficult to pair with wine, but Champagne’s acidity contrasts with the fat and umami notes in eggs. So, if you are treating yourself to scrambled eggs and smoked salmon for breakfast, a vintage Champagne with its greater umami character from longer lees ageing will lift a simple breakfast or brunch to a whole new level.

Delicate fish or seafood starters

Champagne’s saline mineral character pairs well with raw and delicate white fish, shellfish, scallops and oysters. So, try a light and elegant Blanc de Blancs from the Côte des Blancs with some freshly shucked oysters or some lightly grilled scallops. Rosé Champagne lovers could not only enjoy its refreshingly fruity flavours as an aperitif, but also continue sipping it alongside grilled prawns, prawn in Marie rose sauce or even the delicate flesh of a lobster.

The Christmas bird and trimmings

A more robust and full-bodied Blanc de Noirs, with its greater structure and hints of red berries, makes an excellent match for lighter meats and poultry. So, why not pair one with your Christmas turkey. If you’re opting for a more traditional goose, then a Vintage Champagne with its greater complexity and savoury autolytic character might be a better choice. But if you’re indulging in some truffled mash with the Christmas bird, then consider choosing an older Vintage Champagne to create a match made in heaven.

Lighter desserts

Champagne, even a demi-sec, may struggle to stand up to the richness of a Christmas pud, but if you have something lighter on the menu, such as panna cotta with red fruit, a rosé Champagne will pair well.

 

Cheese

Or ditch the dessert entirely and enjoy a cheese platter of hard and semi-hard cheese, such as Parmesan, Comté, Gouda, Manchego and Cheddar. The fat and umami character of cheese is the perfect match for the creaminess, acidity and umami character of an aged Vintage Champagne.

 

Finger food

The festive season would not be complete without a few parties or gatherings. And Champagne is also a perfect choice for finger food. It pairs beautifully with salty and fried foods, so choose a selection of nibbles that reflect these flavours. How about some crostini topped with anchovies, goat’s cheese or prosciutto, olives, crispy fried chicken, bread sticks, salty dips like taramasalata, salt and pepper squid or even the humble potato crisp!

Cheers and Happy Christmas!