CHAMPAGNE & FOOD PAIRING
“Champagne…it gives you the impression that every day is Sunday.”
Champagne has been considered for centuries as the ultimate drink of celebration. It is indeed great on its own with its lingering freshness and boasting sparkles; however it should be considered more often as a great option for pairing with fine foods.
BASIC ON FOOD & WINE PAIRING
“Find a balance so that neither the food nor the wine overpower the other, but complement each other.”
The principal on food & wine pairing is to find a balance so that neither the food nor the wine overpower the other, but complement each other. Great food and wine pairing can bring a decupled gastronomic experience, a real 1 + 1 = 3 experience.
Main elements of the dishes to analyze before deciding on wines are their weight, intensity of flavors, acidity, sweetness and saltiness. And the idea of pairing would to either “mirror or contrast”. Mirroring would be to pair the weight and taste of the dish with similar style of wine. For instance, a heavy grilled T-bone steak served with black pepper creamy sauce would be matched perfectly with a full-bodied red Chateauneuf-du-Pape with its Syrah spicy finish. Contrasting, however, would play on opposite taste and flavors to combine them into something more. For instance, instead of serving a sweet wine on an already sweet dessert, the choice of a brut Champagne would balance the sweetness with high acidity and therefore leaves a light feeling.
“The main fact to look into any wine for food pairing is its acidity.”
However, the main fact to look into any wine for food pairing – whatever it is red, white, rose or sparkling - is its acidity. Great wines always carry good level of acidity (called “freshness” in wine tasting) which is balance by their body, structure and fruitiness level. Without sufficient acidity, the pairing with food would often feel dull.
CHAMPAGNE AS GASTRONOMIC PAIRING
One of the major constituents of Champagnes is its freshness. High acidity levels of Champagne wines are historically what started the second fermentation in the bottle – which is the basis of the Champagne making method. Therefore Champagne already display the main element for good pairing with food.
Different style of Champagnes would pair different style of food.
Brut Champagnes , meaning Champagne with low sweetness, usually displays elegant fruity notes with a good balance of body and structure. It is a French term used to describe the sugar level of champagne, which is less than 15 grams per liter. Generally speaking, it is a great aperitif and it pairs perfectly with seared scallops, roasted quail and fresh water fish.
Blanc de Blancs Champagnes, which stands for Champagnes made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes, are usually lighter in style, more elegant and with a stringing freshness. They make great wines for pairing with steamed, grilled or fried seafood as long as the sauce is not overpowering it.
Blanc de Noirs Champagnes, meaning Champagne which are made from red grapes like Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunir. Blanc de Noirs are powerful and structured Champagnes, some could even be characterized a “vinous”. They make great choice for meaty dishes like poultry in sauce or even could stand the challenge of a red meat as long as it is elegantly cooked.
Rosé Champagnes are usually crafted by adding a portion of still red wine made in Champagne to the assemblage. The red wine would bring not only a beautiful pink colour but as well as an extra complexity and notes of red berries. Heavier seafood like salmon, crab or lobster are greatly partnered with rose Champagne.
Demi-sec Champagnes stand for “semi-sweet” due to their higher sweetness. Sweetness is always a great match to the fattiness of a foie gras or to the heaviness of cheese. Demi-Sec Champagnes match as well very well dessert as it still displays great freshness that would balance the general sugar feeling.
CHAMPAGNE TASTING DINNER BY 3-STAR MICHELIN CHEF, ARNAUD LALLEMENT
“It is the only place in the world where the tasting of the full Armand de Brignac range is possible by the glass.”
Chefs around the world love to play with Champagne to create menus or pair it with their gastronomic creations. Armand de Brignac Champagne’s winemakers, Jean-Jacques and Alexandre Cattier, recently partnered with Champagne local 3-star Michelin Chef, Arnaud Lallement, to create an exclusive luxury tasting menu that showcases all five prestige cuvées. The five-star Relais & Châteaux hotel, L’Assiette Champenoise is the only place in the world where this full tasting of the range is currently possible by the glass.
Chef Lallement paired the following traditional French dishes with each cuvee of Armand de Brignac Champagnes:
Royal Lobster in its creamy nage with lemon caviar
Armand de Brignac Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Caviar with potatoes and smoked haddock
Armand de Brignac Blanc de Noirs Champagne
Armand de Brignac Rose Champagne
Armand de Brignac Brut Gold Champagne
Almond & Honey dessert
Armand de Brignac Demi-Sec
THE CHALLENGE OF THE TABLE OF FOUR
The biggest challenge in wine pairing is to order a wine that would pair with all the food on the table. Especially when you are with friends and families at western restaurant, each ordered dish may not go with similar wine - or during a Chinese dinner where one wine has to pair with many dishes… Then, Champagne is amongst the best options. Its flavor will not overpower any food and its freshness would be a great food pairing for you to enjoy the best gastronomic experience.