The Best Champagnes to Enjoy with Christmas Foods
8th December 2017
The festive period for many will be a delight of gastronomical pleasures from canapes to desserts, the time of the year that we allow ourselves to over indulge with fine cuisines and a drop or two of fizz also. So, what are some great Champagnes that we can look to pair with those nibbles and main courses we are likely to enjoy at Christmas?
Christopher Walkey takes a look at some of the more memorable Champagnes that he has tried over the last year and the ultimate Christmas foods to pair with them:
It all starts here with that popping of the cork in the kitchen and treating ourselves to a glass of Champagne before we have even thought about the food we are to prepare. Who can resist that chilled bottle in the fridge when we open it! Do not forget, especially on Christmas day morning, that it is perfectly acceptable to enjoy a glass of bubbly before 12pm, in fact it is said by many wine professionals that you will enjoy the full taste of Champagne better at around 11am when your palate is the most alert.
Now for this morning time, and before any real food, a glass I would suggest is the Extase Blanc de Noirs from Champagne Jean Diot. The flavours it offers are refreshing and crisp, alive in the mouth and will be an enjoyable kick start to your day ahead giving your mouth a flurry of citrus, near ripe fruits and slight brioche flavours with a good orange and lemon zest length.
Now of course these come in all forms from helpings of fresh fish via sushi to pastry nibbles filled with full flavoured cheese, but nonetheless why should we not have a dedicated bottle of Champagne on ice ready to accompany them.
A Champagne which I was pleased to taste at the home of the wine maker this year, and one that really stuck out as a versatile gastronomic sparkling wine to pair with most small nibbles, is the Blanc de Noirs 100% Pinot Noir from Champagne Laurent Lequart. The flavours offered a host of regional characteristics such as chalk, smoky flavours, citrus and yellow stone fruits. A wine to pair with many styles of canapes from fish to vegetarian and any with chocolate fillings too.
Many of us will have a variation of Christmas dinners so I thought I would split this section to cover a selection of two main meals we may be enjoying.
Most of us I am sure will be opting for the turkey roast with a plate full of roasted vegetables, just the thoughts of this dish to many will make us feel hungry and further inject the desire for Christmas day to be upon us once again. The roasted turkey / chicken option is a great dish to enjoy with Champagne and digging once again in to my memory banks and my notes, I did place a circle around one of the Champagne I tasted which was the Blanc de Noirs Brut Premier Cru from Champagne Pierre-Trichet. The taste was very much full bodied and full of flavours with yellow stone fruits, hints of tropical, citrus and pastry with a touch of vanilla in the length and I have put it down for most poultry dishes to include both creamy sauced and roasted.
What about a spicy Christmas dinner and let us run with curry as many years ago I did once have this dish during the festive period with Asian friends, though back then it would never been in my mind to open the Champagne to compliment to this style of food!
Now we are very familiar that Champagne goes well with nearly all dishes, so with this in mind and assuming we are going to enjoy a mild curry (any hot or highly spicy curry may all together ruin your palate for any wine compliment), I would like to suggest a turkey korma and a Champagne with a slightly high acidity to run with the spices: The famed £9.99 Champagne from Aldi which I have tasted a few times – Veuve Monsigny Brut. This sparkler had a fine intense acidity from the citrus and yellow stone fruit flavours it offers, not the most expensive though in my mind you are not over compensating on quality as this Champagne is still a good purchase and I noted it down as a good pair with curry dishes.
For many the best part of Christmas is the dessert, from the flamed pudding to a host of chocolate gateaux, and we all know that for Christmas day at least we can over indulge ourselves with a few naughty foods. Now we really want a fruity Champagne here, something that will balance well with the sweetness that the dessert will likely hold so I remember well the fruity Roger-Constant Lemaire Rosé de Saignée which I have enjoyed a few times with the family who make this wine just a few km’s outside of Epernay. It is packed with red berry fruits and highly fruity and perfect to pair with most dessert dishes.
Some will say that for them dessert is a fine cheese selection so to end this piece I wish to share with you the perfect Champagne that I have tasted this year to compliment the wealth of cheese we have available to us these days. I am going to go for a Champagne that I remember tasting during one of the trade shows in London and that is the Champagne Roger Brun – Extra Brut 2010 Cuvée des Sires which though fairly heavy and powerful, is still young enough to offer a fruity and fresh taste that I feel will pair nicely with most mild cheese and creamy also.
Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.