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What are the best foods to serve with Champagne?

Black caviar and creme fraiche with chives on potato chips
Caviar and crème fraiche with chives on potato chips

It’s that time of year again and Champagne is on the mind of everyone this week.  Do we have enough? What do we buy? What do we serve it with? Fear not!  I can answer these questions for you.

Do we have enough Champagne?

Easy answer is no.  One never has enough.  That is obviously a purely personal opinion but nevertheless.  Now in reality you should assume there are about 4 to 5 full glasses in each 750mL bottle.  If you are getting enough just for a toast at midnight, take your number of guests and divide by 4 and that is how many 750 mL bottles you should get.  If you want to go for magnums divide that number by 2.  If you are planning to enjoy the bubbles all evening then make sure you have enough for everyone to have at least 2-3 glasses over the course of several hours.  You know your guests better than anyone so use your best judgement here and make sure people can get home or back to their lodging responsibly.

What type do we buy?

Now there is a question.  Sparkling wine runs the gambit from very entry level sparkling to vintage Champagne.  It all depends on your budget and how particular your guests are.

Prosecco – This is a super fun budget friendly sparkling option that is easily appreciated by almost anyone.  It is lightly sweet and smells a lot like pear candy making it easy to drink and approachable for any palate.  It comes from Italy and is made using the Glera grape in the Charmat method (meaning sparkling from tank vs bottle) and is easy to mix into sparkling cocktails or sip on it’s own.  There are a ton of brands available and most are very well made and consistent. I like La Marca and Ruffino both for their quality and consistency as well as their wide spread availability.

Sekt – Fruity and bright with zesty acid.  It’s still generally well received by most guests but Riesling acid can pack quite a punch so be sure to have plenty of food on hand to help balance that for your guests with sensitive stomachs.  Otherwise this is a delicious and sometimes unique wine to offer since it is not easily found by most consumers.

Cava – Much more serious in style and may not be appreciated easily by all guests.  Cava tends to be similar in style to Champagne with bright acid and more savory notes than Prosecco but a bit lighter in style (generally) than Champagne.  It is usually easier on the wallet than Champagne but the best examples will run you about the same.  I’m still a fan of Segura Viudas Reserve. The packaging is amazing and it’s a delicious bottle of wine for the money.

Non-Champagne New World Traditional Method (NCNW for short) – The best examples of these styles of wine come from all over the new world from New Zealand to Australia’s Tasmania. The US also has a bunch of options from CA to Washington, Oregon, New York, and even New Mexico.  Typically the best options mimic the style of Champagne however the price is usually there also because making amazing sparkling wine isn’t cheap no matter where you are from.  So many good wines to list here… Domaine Carneros, Dr Frank, Bellebonne (Another female winemaker who stepped out on her own into her own wines and consulting so women got to support our fellow women when they are making great stuff!!). Check out all your options and try a bunch of things.  So much to discover in this category.

Champagne – The OG of the sparkling wine world.  Starting at pricy and going up to selling your first born this is the hardest on the wallet but worth it if you know what to buy.  Many lesser known houses offer great value.  One of my personal favs is Ayala which is less well known to the average consumer but still delicious.  Champagne Palmer is another one that hangs out in my collection.  Anything from Grace Under Pressure is amazing! I’ve been super impressed with this specially curated selection of Grower Champagnes.  Bollinger is of course a go to and Cristal if you can get it.

What do we serve with it?

This part is pretty easy.  Sparkling wine and especially Champagne is quite easy to pair with food because of its inherent richness, bright acid which cuts through fat, and subtle aromas which allows the food flavors to sing. I love a good caviar on something simple like blinis or even lightly salted potato chips.  A friend of mine was doing thin roasted potato slices with crème fraiche and chives and that was amazing.  You can also just serve the caviar off of your skin.  The back of your (or someone else’s) hand works brilliantly to show the delicate flavor of caviar.  A favorite of mine is Sterling Caviar, which is pictured above.

Rose Champagne is brilliant with salmon.  Both are fatty enough to hold up to each other but delicate enough not to overwhelm.  If you end up with beef make sure you are picking something with a ton of weight like a Blanc de Noir and sprinkle some lemon over your steak to make sure the acid balances the acid in the wine.

If you aren’t having a sit down dinner, sparkling wine goes very well with nibbles such as cheese and nuts also.  The autolytic notes (bread, yeast, nuttiness) really complement aged cheeses and delicately flavored nuts.  Stay away from blue cheeses or softer cheeses since they tend to have more powerful aromas which could overpower the wines.

Happy New Year Everyone! Here’s to getting back to blogging and a fresh start in 2023.

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About Nova Cadamatre

Nova Cadamatre has become one of the most versatile and experienced winemakers in the industry. She holds a Bachelors from Cornell University in Viticulture.  In 2017 she achieved the title of Master of Wine and was the first female winemaker in the US to do so. 

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