Stand up, sybarites! How to host dinner serving only champagne
Such is the versatile nature of champagne, feasts with several courses have been matched with nothing but this famous sparkling French wine. How is it possible though to match every course with champagne and which styles should you go for to ensure a happy marriage of flavours? Let Clos19 help you host the ultimate, hedonistic dinner party.
A superabundance of styles
White, rosé, vintage, non-vintage and various ‘dosages’ (sugar levels) … Champagne is never ‘just’ champagne. When you consider the differences that can be found amongst the myriad champagne styles even within the same wine producing stable, it’s no wonder that multi-course banquets can be served with nothing else. Champagne is, after all, one of the most versatile styles of wine around.
If opting for a single champagne to be served throughout a meal, you’ll need the heavier weight, more intense flavours and complexity that come with vintage and/or prestige cuvées such as Dom Pérignon or Krug to see you through to the end of the meal. If, however, you’d like to showcase a different champagne style with every course (and why not?), there are two rules to follow: firstly, start with a simpler, more approachable style of champagne, then work up to wines with more body, flavour, complexity and finally, sweetness, if you’re opting for dessert. Secondly, pick the dishes to match the champagnes; it will make your task of food matching much easier.
Here are some suggestions for how the latter approach could work. Just make sure we get the invitation, ok?
A champagne for every course
Simple beginnings: When we stay start simple, we mean with an easy-going champagne style such as a Brut NV. Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon and Mercier all have Brut NV styles that can be tasted alone or with lighter canapés (such as smoked salmon blinis) as you work up to a more significant starter.
Under starter’s orders: Pink champagne doesn’t necessarily mean sweetness. Serving a dry rosé with the starter can offer the perfect segue from Brut NV to something a little heavier and more complex. Serve your dry rosé champagne with charcuterie or tuna tartare, perhaps with an element of crunch. Champagne bubbles love that.
The main event: If you’re going to bring out the big guns, now’s the time to do it. Vintage champagnes and prestige cuvées such as Krug, Dom Pérignon or vintage Ruinart, Veuve Clicquot and Moët & Chandon will offer more richness, weight and complex flavours so they can take slightly heavier dishes. Umami flavours such as mushroom or parmesan bring out the yeastiness in these wines and you could also serve them with rare cooked meats like duck, beef or even pigeon! You may also play with delicate herbs and spices: the complex, multi-layered flavours found in champagne will provide exotic and surprising pairings. Try finely cooked Moroccan couscous, Indian curries or Chinese dishes. Tip: Serve the rest of the bottle with some Comté cheese at the end if you’re not quite finished.
Just desserts (or spice): Sweeter, ‘demi-sec’ champagne is a must with any sweet dessert such as fruity pavlovas, apple crumbles or macaroons. Try Veuve Clicquot demi-sec or, if you want to freshen the palate at the same time, serve Moët & Chandon Ice Imperial or Veuve Clicquot Rich over ice.
Whichever way you decide to do things, remember that we are still talking about champagne, not heavy New World cabernet, so make sure any sauces or accoutrements aren’t so powerful in flavour and body that they overwhelm the delicate fizz. Find more suggestion on each of our champagne pages. Bubbles away!