While the term champagne is often used generically to mean a sparkling wine, a true champagne comes only from the Champagne region of France, and is produced under the very strict rules of that appellation. The first champagne was produced accidentally; the characteristic bubbles were actually considered a mistake. These festive bubbles come from a second fermentation of wine – sugar is added after the first fermentation and the bottles are capped, causing the carbonation to build as the second fermentation runs its course.
A world-famous drink that marks the New Year, anniversaries, graduations, race-winning and other celebratory occasions, champagne has been elevated to a lofty perch by some – too high, we think. It shouldn’t seem out-of-reach, or even feel inappropriate for pairing with the occasional dinner. We believe champagne, as well as other sparkling wines, are a fantastic choice for more everyday occasions where they can be savored.
Try pairing champagne with lighter seafood like sole, oysters or halibut. Many sommeliers even suggest champagne – perhaps the ultimate “highbrow” drink – is extremely well-paired with fried food.
Want to make a weekend even more special? Invite over some friends for a champagne brunch. Or grab a bottle of moderately priced sparkling wine and dress it up with the classic Champagne Cocktail or Kir Royale.
What are some great food pairings with champagne?
- Butter sauces
- Cheeses: Brie, Camembert, Gouda, Gruyere, Manchego, Parmesan
- Chinese food, especially Chinese seafood
- Eggs and Egg dishes
- Foie gras
- Fried food
- Smoked salmon
- Hollandaise sauce
Pairings to Avoid
- Extremely sweet dishes (with dry champagne)
- Grilled red meat
Blanc de blancs champagne (“white from whites”) designates Champagnes made exclusively from Chardonnay, while Blanc de noir (“white from black”) designates Champagnes made from Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Menieur.
- Brut – Very dry and flexible for a range of dishes that do not require sweet infusion.
- Extra Dry – Less dry and generally used as brut.
- Dry – With some sugar; can be blended into recipes for a hint of sweetness.
- Demi-sec – Sweet; most often used to pair with less-sugary fruits.
- Doux – Very sweet, although not as much as true dessert wines.
We recommend serving Champagne at 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees C).
Tip: Open a Champagne Bottle Without a Fuss
There are lots of ways to open a champagne bottle. Here’s one method which keeps the overflow to a minimum:
- Stand over a sink or an area that won’t matter if the bottle overflows.
- Begin unwrapping the cork – take the foil or other paper over it.
- Put your hand or thumb over the cork, and slowly begin removing the wiring which holds the cork in place.
- Hold the cork in one hand and the bottle in the other. Place a clean kitchen towel over the top of the bottle.
- Slowly twist the cork in one direction and the bottle in the other. Continue to twist and unscrew the cork until it pops out. It will pop out as the pressure releases, but not enough to fly out of your hand.
This is part of our ongoing series introducing food and wine pairings. At BigOven, we know that some foods just go together. That’s why we’ve introduced Menus, which let you drag and drop recipes to create ideal combinations, share them with the world and create grocery lists instantly. We’ve created a Champagne recipe listing on BigOven – create your favorite menu and share it with friends.
Are these introductory food & wine articles useful to you? Be sure to “Like” this post. Happy cooking!