Champagne is in fact a versatile ‘food wines’ because it contains high levels of acidity and small amounts of sugar, allowing it to complement elements in almost any food.
In this article, we provide the main food and champagne pairing based on CIVC (Comite Interprofessionnel Vin de Champagne) guidance about Champagne and food matching. Champagne is usually seen as an aperitif wine.
Accordingly most of the people don’t consider eating with Champagne, even though Champagne is in fact a versatile ‘food wines’ because it contains high levels of acidity and small amounts of sugar, allowing it to complement elements in almost any food.
Indeed some styles of Champagne are too ‘elegant’ to accompany dishes other than light starters.
Likewise some Champagnes are too rich and powerful to be really enjoyed without food.
Although there are some classic Champagne and food combinations, there is definitely room for experimenting, keeping in mind the most important consideration common to all wines: matching the intensity of the food with that of the wine.
Following is a useful guidance about Champagne and food pairings provided by the CIVC (Comite Interprofessionnel Vin de Champagne) according to the cuvee and dosage of champagne you are tasting but at the end of the day wine and food pairings is an individual choice.
Young, fruity NV Champagne wines are good without food as an aperitif. They are also recommended with hard mountain cheeses such as Comté and Emmental.
NV Champagne can mature beautifully for a few years.
Older NV Champagne can cope with more robust flavours and also work well with caviar.
BLANC DE BLANCS CHAMPAGNE
They can make an excellent aperitif and are also good with oysters, shellfish and gently flavoured white fish. A little age adds depth and they can cope with creamy sauces and spiced dishes. Indian curry works well, but Thai curry doesn’t because of the lemon grass.
BLANC DE NOIRS CHAMPAGNE
These heavier wines really need food and are good with light meats such as partridge, veal and pork. With age they stand up well to richer dishes such as kidneys and venison.
Younger (5-10 years old) vintage champagne wines can provide a foil for a wide variety of dishes including fish with rich sauces, poultry (especially duck), light meats (veal and pork) and many cheeses. Japanese dishes such as sushi also work well. Older vintage Champagnes (10+ years) are great with lightly smoked foods(salmon), hard mature cheeses (Parmesan, Cheddar) and truffles.
Non-Vintage rose Champagne wines present aromas of berry and make a lovely fresh aperitif, but are also good with prawns, lobster and other seafood. Vintage Rosé Champagne wines have a rich, savoury character that can work with red meat and have the power to stand up to high levels of herbs and spices especially basil, mint and coriander.
These sweeter champagne wines go superbly with foie gras and fatty meats (duck, goose). Also if the dish has a sweet element (caramelisation, a fruit ingredient or sugar) this style can provide a better match than brut. Desserts also work well as long as they are not too sweet.
MATCHING CHAMPAGNE CUVÉE WITH FOOD
Non-Vintage (young, 5-10 years): Cheese (Comté, Emmental and Goat’s cheese)
Non-Vintage (old, > 10 years): Caviar Vintage (young) Fish, Poultry (especially Duck), Veal, Pork, Cheese (Chaource and Lancashire), Japanese dishes (e.g. Sushi)
Vintage (old): Smoked food (e.g. Salmon), Cheese (Parmesan, Cheddar and Pecorino) Truffles Blanc de Blancs Oysters, Shellfish, White fish, Indian curry Blanc de Noirs Partridge, Veal, Pork, Kidneys, Venison Rosé (non-vintage) Prawns, Lobster, Seafood
Rosé (vintage): Red meat, Herby food (especially with Basil, Mint and Coriander) Demi-Sec Foie gras, Fatty meats (especially Duck or Goose), Sweet dishes, Desserts
MATCHING FOOD WITH CHAMPAGNE CUVÉE
Caviar: Non-Vintage (old)
Cheddar: Vintage (old)
Comté: Non-Vintage (young)
Chaource: Vintage (young)
Duck: Vintage (young), Demi-Sec
Emmental: Non-Vintage (young)
Fatty meats: Demi-Sec
Fish: Vintage (young)
Foie gras: Demi-Sec
Goat’s cheese: Non-Vintage (young)
Herby food: Rosé (vintage)
Indian curry: Blanc de Blancs
Japanese dishes: Vintage (young)
Kidneys: Blanc de Noirs
Lancashire cheese: Vintage (young)
Lobster: Rosé (non-vintage)
Oysters: Blanc de Blancs
Parmesan: Vintage (old)
Partridge: Blanc de Noirs
Pecorino cheese: Vintage (old)
Pork: Blanc de Noirs, Vintage (young)
Poultry: Vintage (young)
Prawns: Rosé (non-vintage)
Red meat: Rosé (vintage)
Salmon: Vintage (old)
Seafood: Rosé (non-vintage)
Shellfish: Blanc de Blancs
Smoked food: Vintage (old)
Sushi: Vintage (young)
Sweet dishes: Demi-Sec
Truffles: Vintage (old)
Veal: Blanc de Noirs
Venison: Blanc de Noirs
White fish: Blanc de Blancs