Words by TJ Harstine, aka The Modest Somm
Champagne and food?! You must be crazy! A sentiment I have heard time and time again and the only misconception in the wine world that actually gets under my skin. Champagne is not only great with food, it is simply the most interesting style of wine to pair with food of all, go ahead and challenge me. I have one word for you...bubbles! You see, wines all have structure, and no matter the flavours, the structure is by far the most important part of successfully pairing food and wine. So, when you take a wine that has plenty of structure and give it the wonderful addition of that bubbly texture, it simply opens the door to a whole world of new experiences and possibilities.
This is my short list of pairings you need to try immediately! Now some may classify me as a foodie, as it is part of what I do, but I personally love to pair my favourite beverage with some of my favourite non-foodie foods and simple casual pleasures. This hi-brow/low-brow partnership is my completely guilt free guilty pleasure, and you should all get on board immediately.
1. Blanc de Noirs and Fried Chicken
This one is a classic! Any wine nerd or self proclaimed champagne nut worth their metal knows about this one. The roundness and inherent weight of a good BdN works with the meat and the acidity cuts through the grease effortlessly. My absolute favourite part is the incredibly delightful effect that the bubbles have in partnership with the crunchy texture and their ability to cleanse your palate. Honestly, this might be one of the best food and wine pairings on earth!
For bonus points, get yourself a classic Tennessee Hot Chicken sandwich with a few glasses of Demi-Sec and enjoy! The same principles apply to this one, but the heat of the sauce and sweetness in the wine add another level of perfection!
2. BBQ Cheesburgers and Rosé
Burgers and bubbles, a pairing so good there is a restaurant in Champagne’s capital city dedicated to the pairing. If you are ever in Reims, hit Sacré Burger to have your very own food epiphany. In the meantime since we are stuck at home, get a bottle of Rosé Champers and hit the patio to cook up some delicious BBQ Cheesburgers. The slightly heavier Rosé will partner well with the weight of the burger and once again, the mouthwatering acidity in a great bubbly will cut through the fat with ease and the bubbles just seem to connect me to my inner childhood, having fizzy fountain pop every time I was lucky enough to have a fast food stop. To kick the pairing up a notch, top your burger with a zesty citrus slaw and the pairing will sing even louder!
Bacon burger and Champagne Doyard at Sacré Burger
3. Blanc de Blancs and Fish & Chips
Okay, I know this one is kind of similar to number one, and if I’m honest I may actually get even more excited about it. Fish & chips is one of my favourite meals of all time and I’m also obsessed with the Côte des Blancs so it really all makes sense. With this pairing, it’s essentially the opposite principle of the BdN and Fried Chicken. The linear and fresh character of a good Blanc des Blancs perfectly partners with the flaky and delicate fish under that delectably crusty batter. Definitely have a tangy mayo or aioli to dip your fries in and plenty of tarter sauce on your fish, they will both pull that acidity together in the wine and really make the flavours pop in both the food and the wine. Once again, the bubbles both act as a palate cleanser and also work so perfectly with the crunchy texture on the fish. No crazy suggestions with this one, it’s already almost perfect, but definitely take that lemon wedge and give it a generous squeeze over your fish before you take your first bite, you will thank me. I promise!
Lemon crusted Wild Sockeye Salmon with La Rogerie NV Blanc de blancs
This is just my short list, a way to get you understanding just how awesome and versatile champagne can be paired to your dinner and these three will absolutely open your eyes wide as can be. But I want to make sure that everyone understands, simply choosing your favourite dishes and not getting caught up trying to over do your meal is the best thing you can do. Champagne just pairs better with bar food than any other style of wine. Plain and simple. So don’t be shy! Get yourself a bottle of bubbles and cozy up to your favourite greasy, probably fried comfort food and slip into a bubbly bliss.
TJ Harstine - The Modest Somm
TJ is a passionate wine lover who has turned his obsession into a career. From working in restaurants to wineries and starting a boutique import agency in Vancouver focusing on the unicorns of the wine world. He has never been overly interested or concerned in any way about points or tasting notes, but is absolutely in love with the stories of incredible families turning their patches of land in to the mesmerizing liquid that we all love so much. now he brings the stories of these amazingly passionate people and their world class wines to as many people as possible.
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