Despite the fact that champagne is the wine produced only in Champagne, France, in this article the word “champagne” will be used as a synonym to any sparkling wine. Before we start paring champagne and food, let’s have a little crash course on types of champagnes.
There are different types of champagnes determined by the amount of sweetness in the wine. Brut is the driest one, followed by Extra-Dry, then Sec, and Demi-Sec which is the sweetest one. Also, you can distinguish your champagnes by lightness – from very light Blanc de Blanc to more full-bodied Blanc de Noirs to Rose`. These features of the wines determine the food pairings.
As with all other wines/food combinations, you need to make sure that your food does not overwhelm your wine. In the case of champagne it is difficult to go the other way since champagnes are such delicate wines. Also, if you serve other wines over the course of your dinner, champagnes, being light wines, should be offered at the beginning of the meal.
All champagnes go extremely well with appetizers such as shrimp cocktails, with sushi, with mild and young cheeses (Brie, Mozzarella, even Emmental and Gruyere), and with black sturgeon caviar which is rather classical combination. Blanc de Noirs and Rose` are more full bodied wines so they go well enough with chicken and even lamb – provided that there is not a lot of spices involved in cooking.
Demi-Sec and Sec champagnes can go with both main courses such as lamb, duck, even beef as well as desserts. The one thing to consider is that dessert should not be too sweet. Rich chocolate cakes and cheesecakes are not the best choice to serve with champagne. Fruit tarts and fresh fruits and berries such as classic strawberries are more appropriate: as it was mentioned in the movie “Pretty woman”, strawberries enhance the taste of champagne.
As you can see, there are a lot of choices of foods to be served with champagne. The main rule is not to overwhelm those light wines with heavy sauces, spices or too much sweetness. There are a lot of champagnes on the market with prices from $300 per bottle to $5 dollars a bottle. You can always find a bottle of good champagne in a $10-20 price range. Experiment, choose the wine you like and serve it with pride and gusto. Remember that champagnes are for celebrations, be it a special occasion or just everyday celebration of life.