A full-bodied glass of bubbly can be a fantastic food partner, particularly with canapés, salmon and seafood
Which grape varieties are in the blend is crucial to food compatibility. If the fizz is heavy on pinot, then it’s likely to have the richness and body to move it out of the canapé department and into the fishy starters and delicately cooked vegetable sections. Champagne can be an excellent food partner, particularly if it has lots of bottle maturity. It’s fantastic with scallops, is an obvious match for things like salmon and oysters, and when it has a slightly higher dosage (sweetness level), is great with foie gras. New World fizz made with chardonnay is definitely a pre-dinner tipple, though it will probably wash a few blinis down pleasantly enough. But again, it’s the richer, fruitier pinots that are the real match, whether with a few seared prawns on a salad, or a fine, not too spicy bouillabaisse.
- Pulling the plug
- The bubbles in sparkling wine which has been made in the traditional méthode champenoise come from a plug of yeast inserted into the neck of the wine bottle, which causes secondary fermentation. The yeast is removed before the final cork is inserted.
- Oh brother
- Champagne’s ‘invention’ has for hundreds of years been attributed to the Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon. The fact that he was actually preoccupied with still wines from the region and that champagne probably came about as an evolutionary process hasn’t dented the monk’s fame: it is, after all, his name that has adorned Moët & Chandon’s prestige cuvée since its first appearance in 1937.
- Popping off
- In the late 19th century, when glass manufacturing was much more rudimentary, champagne bottles had a nasty habit of exploding in the cellars in Epernay and Reims (the two main cities of Champagne) – so much so that up to a third of stock could be lost each year, and there were actual fatalities from flying glass in the cellars.