Champagne may be associated with major celebrations and the christening of boats, but what many people don’t know is that Champagne is one of the most versatile alcoholic drinks to pair with food.
While attending a very entertaining Champagne tasting seminar during this year’s Chicago Gourmet, I learned from the quick-witted Master Sommelier Serafin Alvarado, Director of Wine Education at Southern Wine and Spirits, that the beverage is actually a blend of wines (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier) which results in a cuvee that has more depth and versatility than any wine on its own. The main reason is that these sparkling wines have unparalleled acidity that can stand up to most rich and fatty dishes, and also lighter, less complex meals.
Even master sommeliers often pick Champagne or sparkling wine as their beverage of choice for meals.
All sommliers are acid freaks – Serafin Alvarado, Master Sommelier
During the seminar I had the wonderful experience of tasting five amazing Champagnes:
- Henriot Champagne Brut Blanc de Blanes NV
- Laurent-Perrier Champagne Brut NV
- Dom Perignon Champagne Brut 2003
- Krug “Grande Cuvee” Champagne Brut NV
- Gosset “Grand” Champagne Brut Rose NV
Each one was slightly different and more lovely than the next. And, although I’d consider mine a novice palate, I was able to conclude, after just a few sips, that I have expensive taste, liking both Dom Perignon and Krug the best.
And speaking of expensive Champagnes……contrary to what most people believe, Champagne, especially the expensive kind, is not best served in a typical fluted Champagne glass. Pouring Champagne into a fluted, narrow glass may encourage more bubbles and spillage, causing one to naturally drink the Champagne too fast (maybe that’s why it’s associated with headaches!)
Speed tasting Champagne can go to your head – Serafin Alvarado, Master Sommelier
Alvarado recommends drinking good Champagne from your largest wine glass to let the sparkling wine breath- yes, Champagne needs to breath too! Better yet, decant it, he says.
But no matter what you drink – Proseco, sparkling wine, Cava, or Champagne – there’s one thing that can’t be denied, a bit of the bubbly can make just about anyone smile.