Without further ado, let me introduce you to some wacky champagne pairings that will show how well it holds up to some of the world’s strongest foods. The caveat here is that the use of the word “champagne” is totally wrong, I’m actually referring to sparkling wines as well, including cava and even prosecco, but Google thinks the word champagne is cooler. Therefore, there!
champagne and chili
Undoubtedly one of those bizarre perfect pairings that will leave you speechless… although I don’t recommend throwing yourself out of the bottle of Dom Perignon 1998! I tried a great value cava, Paul Cheneau Cava Brut, with my favorite red and black bean soyrizo chili. The spiciness of the soyrizo is cooled by the acidity of the champagne. Plus, a fruity cava brings out the sweetness of the red beans in the chili bowl. This pairing will have you running and telling all your friends, in fact, I stole this idea from Rick Martinez at West Street Wine Bar in Reno, NV.
champagne and bacon
Bacon is a sweet meat (especially when fried with a little maple syrup). A fruity rosé champagne like Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rose or, if you’re seriously celebrating, Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades Rose would pair well with pork belly. I figure if you’re planning on putting meat in your alcohol, why not select a $500 champagne? What does the ace of spades taste like? The aforementioned rosé wine has an extremely small and creamy bubble finesse combined with aromas of pomegranate and strawberry with a long and tingling acidity. Ace of Spades is very feminine and refined, but not too different from some of the other $90 champagnes I’ve tried. Bacon Factoid: As a vegetarian, I will never admit to “giving it up”, I just avoid it.
champagne and oysters
Oysters often leave the taste of what seems like the whole ocean in your mouth. And the wet and salty taste of the ocean is horrible to pair with wine, this is where our friend, champagne, comes to the rescue. The Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label is my go-to oyster pairing because the acidity and purity of the flavors wash away all the dirty taste of the ocean. I’d also happily down Egly-Ouriet, a grower’s champagne. East Coast people have nothing for oysters. British Columbia has the best: Shigoku, Kuushi and Royal Miyagi. They are fighting words.
champagne and salad
The salad is extremely difficult to pair with most wines because of the bitter flavors from the green leaves and the high acidity of the dressing. Bitterness is one of those traits that cannot be combined together (ie bitter + bitter), it overwhelms the tongue’s bitter sensors and masks other tastes. High-acid foods will make a low-acid wine taste limp. For a salad with a vinaigrette, a prosecco, such as Riondo Prosecco or a demi-sec/extra-dry champagne, will offer bright, fruity flavors. Extra Dry is an interesting dilemma, it’s actually sweeter than brut, but don’t complain about the mislabeling, tell the French.
champagne and fries
Champagne is the soda of alcohol, so it’s great with fried foods. Since fried food is advocated in all kinds of dining establishments, simply select your champagne based on the quality of the fried food you’re about to eat. Ruinart Blanc de Blancs would make me very happy with those corn fritters at Gilt in NYC. Gruet Brut, a sparkling wine from New Mexico, would quench my thirst after eating a stack of In-N-Out potato chips.