Raise a glass for International Champagne Day with Françoise Peretti's perfect champagne pairings
From fish and chips and Chinese gourmet to sweeter snacks and desserts, these are the most versatile champagne pairings
Champagne Day, an international day dedicated to the original and pinnacle of sparkling wine, falls annually on the third Friday of October. To toast the occasion, Francoise Peretti, Director of the Champagne Bureau UK, has shared her tips on pairing this versatile wine with your favourite Friday night dishes to start the weekend in style. She explains how, in these difficult times, the simple act of a night spent at home is a cause for good cheer.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it is to find joy in life’s smaller moments, and on this Champagne Day, we’re inviting you to do just that. Champagne is seen as a celebratory drink, but why wait to enjoy it? Champagne is a ‘happy’ wine which turns any occasion into an enjoyable moment - in fact, when lockdown began earlier this year, take home Champagne sales increased, with people stocking up on their favourites to keep morale high - and it can certainly elevate a Friday night takeaway.
When it comes to choosing Champagne, to put it simply, the best Champagne for you is the one you like most, the one that suits the occasion and the one that you can afford. When someone asks me to recommend a Champagne, I always ask what kind of wine they like to drink. Champagne is so versatile so if you like a big, full-bodied red I’ll recommend a full-bodied Champagne, maybe a Blanc de Noirs (100% Pinot Noir/Meunier). If someone says they love white burgundy it’s easy to guess they enjoy more rich, complex chardonnay so I’d recommend a Vintage or Prestige Cuvee based Chardonnay Champagne.
Champagne styles are diverse making some styles pair best with certain foods. Champagne can pair just as well with fish and chips as it can with gourmet cuisine - in fact, many would be surprised to hear that the former is one of the best dishes to pair with Champagne. For this British chip shop classic, a vibrant and zingy Blanc de Blancs Champagne is ideal. As a 100% Chardonnay (called Blanc de Blancs) style with citrus notes, it will match seafood and cut right through fried batter, making the meal feel much lighter. If sushi, sashimi or poké bowls is your takeaway of choice, Extra Brut or Zero Dosage Champagne is the purists’ choice – a no frills style that is extra fresh with ultra-low sugar, meaning it’s only 60 calories a glass. >>
For everyday treats such as pizza and burgers, or bold flavours cheese and meat, choose a Blanc de Noirs Champagne. Literally meaning ‘white of blacks’, it’s made from 100% black grapes (Pinot Noir, Meunier), which means the structure and body of the wine has the strength to stand up to these dishes while enhancing them. Alternatively, you can try a Vintage Champagne, a blend of still wines from the same harvest year. Vintage Champagne ages gracefully while acquiring more complexity and it goes along. By law, it is aged for a minimum of three years, and is strong enough to balance stronger, more complex flavours.
If you’re after a sweet treat, snacks like doughnuts or cookies are best paired with sweeter styles like a Demi Sec Champagne – anything dryer could be jarring. With Champagne, you will find that the sweeter styles are not cloying but maintain the wine’s signature freshness that shines through all Champagne wines.
To enjoy it to the fullest at home, make sure your bottle is properly chilled. It only takes 30 minutes to chill a bottle of Champagne to the optimum temperature in a bucket filled with water, ice and salt as the salt lowers the water’s freezing point. Alternatively, 3 hours in the fridge will do.
You can find Champagne Day events near you at https://champagneday.champagne.fr/