People think Champagne is for Fancy Times, popping it only with caviar, paté, and wedding toasts. And how often is that? Not very. If those are your only usual excuses to drink Champagne, I’m about to give you a lot more. And ones that will rock your palate.
Champagne is an excellent food match – it has beautiful fruit and minerality, a great deal of acid, and bubbles that all complement or cut through fatty foods. I’m a massive fan of popping it with potato chips and a rosé version with foie gras. But at a recent dinner with Elise Losfelt, one of the winemakers at Moët & Chandon, we had a bunch of bubbly with some killer combinations at Seoul Chicken on the Lower East Side (obsessed with the name and the food).
1 impérial brut and tuna crudo, yuzu, coconut, celery, and pear
The Impérial Brut is Moet’s regular offering. Their house style is bright fruit and a “seductive palate” which Elise explained as having a soft kick of acid and bitterness at the end of your sip. Bitterness isn’t normally what I think of when describing Champagne, but Elise said with the two red grapes in Champagne (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) you can get bitterness from the skins just as you do with still red wine. It’s not something we have a lot in American cuisine, except for maybe coffee, but it added a hint of balance to the super interesting combination of flavors and textures in this dish.
2 2006 grand vintage brut with yellow curry mussels and kaffir lime
This dish was delicious and packed with really bold flavors – the yellow curry, lime, as well as pastis and lemon. You don’t want a wine that’s going to compete and mess with all that, so something like the 2006’s very light-toast brioche is gentle enough to support but not compete.
3 2006 grand vintage rosé and five-spice fried chicken
Like potato chips, the bubbles are an amazing laser through all the crispy fried fat. And this fried chicken at Seoul Chicken was packed with spices (phenomenal – you have to try it) so rosé was an even better call. The 2006 vintage has more Pinot Noir than the non-vintage, which gives it what Elise called a “suspended energy” that keeps the moment on your tongue. The contrast of fresh and dried red fruit as well as white florals and violets was awesome with the fried chicken.