The Champagne for every Restaurateurs’ Wine List
19th November 2020
One of the many delights when visiting a restaurant is taking a peek at the wine list. The size and content will vary tremendously from the style of restaurant, such as fast food outlets to Michelin star, to the style of cuisine on offer from Sushi to traditional French cuisine that will all have persuasion on the wine list. We then have the stages of the meal, mostly being hors d’oeuvre, appetizer, salad, main course, and dessert as well as dishes catered for vegetarian and vegan. Rare, medium, well done with seasoned, butter fried or smoked and so much more – Though many dishes are simplicity in preparation and cooking, the depth of styles and options is immense.
Normally, as the quality of dining you go for increases then so does the detail of the wine list. As we approach restaurants with their own dedicated sommeliers then we know that we will have wine lists that have great attention to detail and crafted so that many pair wonderfully well with courses that are on offer. Most times there will be wines that cater to all visitor budgets and can extend to those above the £100’s and £1,000’s in prices.
“I have been to restaurants where the wine list may be just a couple of pages even though the cuisine is of great standard which always surprises me as we all know that profits on wine favours the business profits. I have also been to restaurants where there was simply not enough time to flick through all the pages of the wine list which contained thousands of labels.“
Most wine lists will contain everyday wines, names that are not new to us and usually supplied to the restaurant via a single wine merchant / supplier. The wine box is ticked as such and a small selection of reds, whites and sparkling wines will be on offer for the customers, job done over anything to inspire us or even chosen to accompany the food we have ordered.
Other times the wine list will be in-depth and many pages long with detailed indexes taking you on a journey from country to country, region to region and style to style. Names will delight you and intrigue you, prices to tempt yet scare you and these lists are usually a work in progress and likely to never be completed with usually a dedicated wine professional guiding the restaurant on which wines to add and subtract. Some restaurants will hold thousands of bottles of wine with what we could call a vinotheque / wine library with amazing collections that extend to the customer’s ability to not only select a wine, but also which vintage they prefer or even which version of the vintage they are after (usually supplied by the Oenotheque of wineries).
“Bern’s Steakhouse is an opulent Tampa, Fl. institution that boasts of having the “world’s largest wine cellar.” The restaurant claims to store more than 600,000 bottles of vino.” source Business Insider website
“Bern’s Wine Cellar will truly impress you — with more than 6,800 unique wine labels, 5,500 red wines, 1,000 white wines and more than 200 sparkling wines. In addition, we feature about 300 Madeiras, Ports, and Sherries by the glass, as well as 200 table wines served by the glass with vintages to 1973.” source Berns Steak House website
Champagne and Gastronomy:
Of recent years we have seen a surge in the popularity of pairing fine cuisine with Champagne. The versatility of this sparkling wine allows it to accompany a wide selection of cuisine from those which are spicy to those creamy, fresh to barbecued and deep fried or grilled. Commonly known to pair with fresh shellfish, most noticeably oysters or cheese we now see Champagne pairing with curries, fish and chips, roast dinners, sushi and much more.
“I have always felt Champagne, along side many other sparkling wines, is the best for gastronomy delights. My passion for this subject led me to co write, alongside Stefania Ruffo, a book dedicated to food and fizz. Champagne can enhance the flavours of foods as can foods discover new flavours in the wine. The freshness and higher acidity levels of Champagne also enable it to not only freshen our palate during dining, but cut through fatty/greasy dishes and soften hotter spices and many seasoning. Champagne also can handle all courses from starters to dessert.“
This dedication to sparkling wines and food also reflects in the Glass of Bubbly Awards where each year a dedicated trophy for gastronomy is decided by professional judges in London. This category is unique within sparkling wine awards and sees many great wines gain medals and trophies thanks to their how they suit / deserve to pair with fine cuisine.
The 2020 Glass of Bubbly Awards Trophy Winner in the category of ‘Gastronomic’ went once more (previously in 2017 for their Cuvee Des Sires 2011) to the Champagne house ‘Roger Brun‘. A smaller grower Champagne label located in the village of Ay, the winery produces a fine selection of Champagnes that are exported globally and many have been award countless gold medals and trophies – It is a real gem of a find for any Champagne lover.
The ‘Gastronomic’ Trophy winning wine was the 3/3 2008 vintage from Roger Brun. This Champagne holds an equal split of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier blend and has that special bold style of flavours and aromas that Philippe Brun, owner and winemaker, accomplishes with his wines.
So, we wanted to put the Champagne Roger Brun 3/3 2008 to the test – Is it really as good as it was judged to be? Does it deserve the crown of the best Champagne for gastronomy this year? Will it cope with a variety of cuisines?
Champagne Roger Brun 3/3 Vintage 2008 – Tasting notes: “Yellow fruits and honey aromas with a touch of tinned prunes. Golden fruits, dark honey, dried lemon slices, higher acidity. A mouth-watering finish.” 4.5 Stars Vivino
Pairing with Prawn Cocktail: “Quite an acidic combination, possibly due to the sauce vs the Champagne. The sauce and citrus attack the palate with prawn flavours only appearing in the length quite faintly. Champagne is too bold here for me.”
Pairing with Fried Scallops: “The Champagne enhances the flavours of the scallops and adds a sweet citrus compliment on the side.”
Pairing with Sushi (Tuna and yellow peppers): “A rich golden citrus and tuna flavours sensation then mellows to tune flavours in the length. The palate is refreshed.”
Pairing with Macaroni Cheese: “A savoury citrus taste then palate cleansing hints of soft citrus in length. Creamy sensation of the dish is reduced by the Champagne.”
Pairing with Fried Steak, Fried Onions and Chips: “The Champagne holds a bold character here and dominates though it is also elegant enough to allow fresh savouriness from the steak to appear alongside fresh zestiness from the wine. Any heaviness that the meal holds is reduced.”
Pairing with Chicken Masala Curry (Medium Spice): “A citrus and spicy tingling sensation at the back of and side of the tongue – Quite a unique experience! A creamy spiciness with golden citrus / honey flavours added from the wine. A lively and favourable pairing.”
Pairing with Soft Creamy Cheese (Brie): “A creamy and zesty citrus with a classy smoothness in the palate. Works so very well together and both emit their better characters we appreciate. The Champagne acts as a cleanser to the palate with a mouth-watering taste sensation at the close.”
Pairing with Hard Cheese: “Both are quite stubborn and neither willing to allow the other to express themselves. The pairing is tight and no great flavours are released.”
Quality of Champagne – 9/10
Able to pair against spicy dishes – 9/10
Able to pair against greasy dishes – 9/10
Able to pair with cheese – 7/10
Able to pair with delicate / light foods – 4/10
“This Champagne is so very bold and full of character. It can handle dishes with both heavy in style and also full of flavours. It is great to pair with some cheese, ideally softer / creamy style. It is a great palate cleanser.“
Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.