The ideal drink during Christmas Time and year’s end celebrations is of course Champagne. But, are you sure to know exactly how to match food with this exceptional wine ?
Before answering precisely to this question, here’s a little reminder: Champagne is THE special drink of the celebration and that is nothing new since Champagne wines were served during French kings’ coronations that used to happen in Reims since the baptism of Clovis, on Christmas Day in 496.
If the question of matching food with Champagnes wines arises, it is because of the great diversity of those wines.
Beyond the choice of vinification (barrel ageing, ageing time, ...), the diversity of Champagne wines is coming specifically from the art of blending. Blending is selecting and combining several fermented wines between them until getting the precise style that we want to give to its Champagne.
First of all, the crus: soil, subsoil, exposure and climate give each village (or cru) different characteristics.
Then, the grape varieties: for Champagne, the majority are chardonnay, pinot noir and meunier.
And finally the dosage, which depends on the style of wine desired: "extra brut, brut, sec or sweet".
You get the picture, factors that I have just listed allow the production of the different types of Champagnes. It’s among them that you would be able to choose in order to go with your dishes.
First there is the Champagne without year: it is the most symbolic in terms of brands’ style and know-how, as they work to ensure its consistency from year to year. It is therefore the standard of the brands and is their pride and joy.
Then there is the vintage Champagne. It corresponds to the case where the winemaker chooses to blend wines from a single year because it has exceptional characteristics. These wines must then be aged in the cellar for a minimum of 3 years and are characterised by their power, maturity and balance.
Then we find the Blanc de blancs. These are Champagnes made from 100% white grapes. They are lively, airy and have a fresh aroma.
Next, the Blanc de Noirs Champagne. These champagnes are made from 100% black grapes (pinot noir and meunier) and can be defined as greedy, powerful and complex.
Finally, there is Rosé Champagne. It can be made from a "saignée" or a blend of white and red champagne wines. Delicate to make, it is fruity and structured.
Which ones should you choose ? I use plural because if you wish to surprise your guests for the special occasion like New Year’s Eve, you can serve Champagne wines at unexpected moments (or even throughout the meal, it is totally possible for an extraordinary night!)
To conclude, at dessert time: if it is sweet, it is recommended to opt for a Sec or demi-sec champagne champagne, which will not distort the flavours of your pastries and cakes. However, citrus-based desserts can be combined very well with most of “classic” brut Champagnes and those with red fruits with a Rosé Champagne.
The end of year celebrations can be a good occasion to discover the diversity of champagnes wines; a diversity that allow you to compose subtle food and wine pairings all year long!
Don’t hesitate to talk to your wine merchant or the producer, he will be delighted to guide you. And above all, don’t hesitate to taste it: Champagne is a product of pleasure and conviviality, what matters above all is what you are feeling when you taste it (in moderation, of course!). The perfect match is above all the one that transports you.
Here’s a toast for all these great suggestions! I hope I've made your mouth water!
Happy holidays to all!
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