Page 0186

184 � squaremeal.co.uk

As if we didn't already know,

Champagne has many strings

to its bow. It's the ultimate

party pour, the embodiment of

luxury, a wine style that ages well, and it's

the best of gifts, too. However, one of its

biggest (and most underrated) plus points is

its ability to pair with food, and pair well.

People often look confused when I

declare the brilliance of Champagne as a

food wine, but I'm undeterred by their

raised eyebrows because experience after

experience does nothing but strengthen

this theory. �e unique combination of

freshness with effervescence and acidity,

elegance due to subtle flavours from a cool

winemaking climate and concentration of

flavour thanks to a long ageing process

make it a food wine that is hard to beat.

TUNA CARPACCIO

Best with: Rosé

�e extra richness of flavour in pink

Champagne comes from the extra red

wine that is (usually, but not always)

added to white Champagne. �is doesn't

just change its colour, but its concentration

of flavour, too, and it makes it the best

style to pair with meat - even red meat.

However, good as this match can be,

pink Champagne is a seamless match

with tuna carpaccio. Why? Because the

purity of the red fruit in the wine,

together with its freshness, has a real

affinity with the raw and natural state

of the tuna, and this can be enhanced

even further by pepping up the tuna

with celery and salt. �e same principle

would apply to tuna or salmon sashimi,

provided fiery wasabi and rich soy sauce

is kept to a minimum.

A FEW TO TRY: Dosnon Récolte Rosé

NV, £40, Roberson; Billecart-Salmon

Brut Rosé NV, £50-ish, widely available;

Ruinart Rosé Brut NV, £50-ish,

widely available.

FISH AND CHIPS

Best with: Brut NV

One of the all-time best Champagne and

food matches around, there's a delicious

decadence to serving Champagne with the

UK's main contribution to world cuisine.

Although the dish is down to earth, the

batter of the fish and the richness from the

frying requires a Champagne that has

both a good concentration of flavour and

crisp freshness. Non-vintage wines often

naturally cut through fried food, while the

creamy elegance loves the soft flesh of the

fish - not to mention the potatoes. Brut

NV Champagne can also be fantastic with

all the extras on the plate: rich enough to

work with tartare sauce, creamy enough to

cope with acidic tomato ketchup and fresh

enough to marry well with mushy peas.

�ere is no end to the fish and chip-

matching talents of Brut NV Champagne.

A FEW TO TRY: The Co-operative

Les Pionniers Brut NV, £16.99, The

Co-operative; Delamotte Brut NV,

£29.95, Corney & Barrow; Drappier

Quattuor NV, £59.50, Hedonism Wines.

ROAST CHICKEN

Best with: Champagne houses

with rich styles

Yes, this totally works, trust me. �e folk

in Champagne have been trying to

convince people for years that their wines

can work all the way through a meal and

this is proof that they are absolutely right.

With the richness of roast chicken and its

crispy skin, not to mention the gravy, a

house that is known for richer styles is a

brilliant choice for this dish. Step forward

Champagne houses that use oak barrels

when making their wine, because even

though there might not be oaky flavour

(there usually isn't), it still gives the wine

extra oomph and concentration in the

mouth. Even better, whether it's potato

dauphinoise or good old-fashioned roasties

accompanying, the classic freshness of

Champagne will also be great at cutting

through the extra flavour of pimped-up

potatoes. Hello Sunday lunch.

A FEW TO TRY: Krug Grand Cuvée, £160,

Selfridges; Bollinger Special Cuvée NV,

£40, Waitrose; The Society's Champagne

Brut NV, £28, The Wine Society.

CHEESE PLATE

Best with: Vintage

Forget a glass of claret with the cheese

course, Champagne is a much better bet,

with hard cheese at least. And you don't

need to stick to French fromage either -

a little plate with a slice of well-aged

Cheddar, a piece of Comté and a chunk

of mature Parmigiano-Reggiano would

be nothing short of stunning with vintage

Champagne. Incidentally, this is a vastly

underrated style and often fantastic value

for money, too. Why is this such a great

match? Because cheese has a high fat

content so it prefers wines with good

FOR FOOD

Why stop at the aperitif stage when there's a Champagne style to

suit every course of your meal? WORDS JANE PARKINSON PHOTO STEPHEN LENTHALL

FIZZ

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