Without further ado, let me introduce a few off-the-wall champagne pairings that will show how well it holds up against some of the world’s strongest foods. The caveat here is that the use of the word “champagne” is totally incorrect, I’m actually also referring to sparkling wines including cava and even prosecco, but Google thinks the word champagne is cooler. So there!
Champagne and Chili
Without a doubt one of those bizarre perfect pairings that will blow your mind… although I don’t recommend pulling your bottle of 1998 Dom Perignon! I tasted 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 in the champagne. Also, a fruity cava brings out the sweetness of the red beans in the bowl of chili. This pairing will have you running and telling all your pals, in fact, I stole this idea from Rick Martinez at West Street Wine Bar in Reno, NV.
Champagne and Bacon
Bacon is meat candy (especially when fried up with a little maple syrup). A fruity rose champagne like Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rose or, if you are seriously celebrating, Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades Rose would pair well with pork belly. I figure, if you are planning to put meat in your alcohol, why not select a $500 champagne. What does Ace of Spades taste like? The aforementioned rose wine has an extremely tiny and creamy bubble finesse paired with pomegranate and strawberry aromas with a long tingling acidity. Ace of Spades is very feminine and refined, but not dissimilar to a few 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 entire ocean in your mouth. And the briny wet flavor of the ocean is horrible to pair with wine, this is where our pal, champagne, comes to the rescue. The yellow label Veuve Clicquot is my go to oyster pairing because the acidity and pureness of flavors wash away all the dirty ocean flavor. I would also happily swallow Egly-Ouriet, a grower champagne. The folks on the east coast have nothing for oysters. British Colombia has the best: Shigoku, Kuushi, and Royal Miyagi. Them’s fightin’ words.
Champagne and Salad
Salad is extremely difficult to pair with most wines because it has bitter flavors from the leafy greens and high acidity from 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 flavors. High acid foods will make a low acid wine taste flabby. For a salad with vinaigrette, a prosecco, like Riondo Prosecco or a demi-sec/extra-dry champagne will deliver lively and fruity flavors. Extra Dry is an interesting quandary, it is actually sweeter than brut, but don’t complain to me about the mislabeling, go tell the French.
Champagne and Fries
Champagne is the soda of alcohol so it’s great to pair with fried foods. Since fried food is championed in all manner of dining establishment, just select your champagne based on the quality of fried food you are 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 pile of In-N-Out french fries.