Champagne Food Pairing

Remarkably Versatile!


Champagne goes remarkably well with food. Most wine (except perhaps a few monstrous Australian reds which are nearly food in their own right) goes extremely well with food. Many people, especially Europeans, insist it’s designed to go with food, and Champagne goes with food certainly better than most wines. The number of great Champagne food pairings is simply phenomenal!

Starting with breakfast, eggs and Champagne are a classic, which is probably why we have the term “Champagne Brunch” in our lexicon. Some favorites include scrambled eggs, quiche, and poached eggs, but most any egg dish will do. Eggs with smoked salmon in some fashion does wonders with Champagne. Hmmm, my mind is spinning: perhaps a smoked salmon Eggs Benedict this weekend needs to be on the menu? And bacon, ham, and sausage are no problem with this pairing either!

Many many appetizers love to be paired with Champagne (I prefer to start with a blanc de blancs for appetizers if I’ll be serving Champagne with the main course(s) as well). Any seafood appetizer works, such as bacon wrapped scallops, clams and oysters (cooked, raw, or smoked), shrimp, etc. I also love mushroom based appetizers for example stuffed mushrooms, Foie Gras, and absolutely caviar (although some disagree, I love Champagne with my caviar).

Sushi and Champagne are great, and I had very memorable Champagne tasting at a local Sushi spot. We each brought a different bottle, order sushi, and went to town! A couple birthdays ago the appetizer course was take out sushi from a local Japanese restaurant paired with a vertical of Dom Perignon (the 85, 90, 95, 96, and 98 vintages). Some people prefer a demi-sec  or rose Champagne with sushi, and I must say those work well too.

And Champagne and French Fries - or let's be proper and say it in French: "Pommes Frites" - is simply sublime. I had a half bottle with some pommes frites with truffle dipping sauce that was out of this world.

For main courses, simply prepared seafood and Champagne rocks. Lobster is a classic, although I may slightly prefer a Corton Charlemagne (an awesome white Burgundy), a little better, but I’m not sure. Must experiment more. Also pasta dishes that are not tomato sauce based. Cream and or (my favorite) olive oil based pasta dishes are fantastic.

Most any bird will sing when paired with Champagne. Now more flavorful birds, like turkey and duck, call for bigger Champagnes. Turkey goes well with Rose for example. Duck begs for a full bodied Champagne – maybe a Krug (haven’t tried this one yet) or a Bollinger NV or Grand Annee.

Other whitish meats, like pork, veal, and ham, do well with full bodied Champagnes. And lamb served rare can really work well with Rose.

How about Asian foods (I’ve taken 6 levels of Chinese cooking classes) ?? Yup, Champagne works well. Both with sweet dishes and up to medium high spicy dishes, it works well because of its high acidity. A demi-sec is mentioned by many as ideal for spicy varieties and I must try this is soon.

Last but not least we’ll mention cheeses. Some cheeses that everyone agrees work well (whether as appetizers or dessert) are hard aged cheeses like Gouda, Cheddar, Colby and Parmesan. Triple creams are great. Many goat cheeses work too. Really soft and ripe cheeses usually will kill Champagne. I’ll typically put out an assortment: ones I know work, ones I have hanging around in the fridge, and ones that probably don’t. They work themselves out and sometimes there are very pleasant surprises. And if cheeses don’t work, well, they last a long time and you can have them later.

Do remember that when it comes to Champagne Food Pairing, or any wine and food pairing, there are no rules. Maybe some guidelines, but if you like it, it works. Feel free to experiment! I do.