‘Tis the season to jolly, and that means there is no better time to crack open that luxury bottle of fizz you’ve been saving for a special occasion.
To enjoy your champagne at its best this festive season, pair it with some of the season’s finest foodie flavours – because from smoked salmon to steak, it’s the most indulgent time of the year, and some of your favourite dishes will beautifully complement your chosen tipple.
Whilst the possibilities for champagne and food pairings are endless, it’s important to know which varieties will work best with each element of your festive menu. After all, there’s little point in paying the hefty price tag for a bottle of Moet if you’re not going to enjoy it to its full potential, and the foods you choose to serve it with truly have the power to make or break it.
The same, of course, can be said in reverse – choose the wrong cork to pop and you could easily find that it detracts from that carefully prepared recipe you were looking forward to serving up to guests.
So, to make sure you get it right this year, we’ve rounded up some of the most deliciously decadent food and champagne pairings of the season to ensure that you’ll always get the best out of both.
Brut champagne is typically made exclusively from chardonnay grapes, and is a favourite amongst those who take their tasting seriously thanks to the bright acidity and fresh dryness, making them a perfect partner for all manner of luxurious festive dishes.
Caviar is an obvious choice, and is a traditional champagne pairing. These tiny, briny fish eggs are equally extravagant, and their natural saltiness and slight oiliness, coupled with the mineral qualities of both the beverage and the dish, make for a harmonious pairing and a mouth-watering taste sensation.
Oysters are another opulent choice to serve up alongside your bottle of Brut. Grapes grown in the champagne region are grown in soils that are rich in minerals and marine fossils which contribute subtle flavour nuances and so make for a decadent duo to serve up this Christmas. Try your oysters grilled and topped with garlic, butter, oregano and garlic for a mouth-watering twist on this classic luxury dish – and enjoy alongside a good bottle of Taittinger Brut Comtes.
Planning on serving up something a little more laid-back on Boxing Day? Plump for the creamy, cheesy delight that is mac and cheese. A guaranteed people pleaser and an all-round comfort food, it goes surprisingly well with champagne. Opt for a blanc de blancs for your tipple of choice, which will cut through the richness of the dish and elevate this casual classic to all new heights.
When it comes to the ultimate in versatile champagnes, it doesn’t get much better than a good bottle of rosé champagne, which can mould its mouth-watering berry flavours and balanced acidities to almost any dish. Game meats and poultry are a great option, which is good news if you’re serving up the traditional Christmas Day turkey dinner. Duck, in particular, is an excellent choice so serve up with a glass or two, showcasing the lush notes of red cherry and rhubarb. The acidity of the champagne will cut effortlessly through the fattiness of the duck, making for the perfect partnership all round.
Planning on serving up a charcuterie board in the evening? Rosé also happens to work incredibly well with cured meats, bringing balance to the salty flavours and smokiness of salami, jamón serrano and other luxurious cuts and cutting through the richness of decadent pâtés and mousses.
Fish and crab, amongst other seafood snacks, will also benefit from such a pairing. Crab cakes are a great choice for a festive starter or to serve as canapés throughout the evening and a glass of rosé will beautifully enhance the natural flavours of the crab meat. The same can be said for white fish, scallops and prawns, all of which will work well with a quality sparkling rosé champagne.
The bottom line
While champagne is often reserved for the canapés or for the toasting of the big day, making way instead for food and wine pairings that are typically served over dinner, your favourite bottle of fizz is more versatile than you think. Whatever you’re serving up this Christmas, you’re guaranteed to find a bottle of champagne to match and complement it – so get ready to pop some extra corks this year as we wave goodbye to 2020 – from Christmas Day right through until the new year.