The Worst Foods to Enjoy with Champagne
21st February 2022
I just want to start things off here with Chocolate. Now for many, mostly the consumers, the mentioning of Champagne and Chocolates sounds a most wonderful treat, doesn’t it? Words such as romance, love, Valentines Day, ‘Me’ time, luxury and much more. It remains a strong pairing when it comes to marketing with Marks and Spencer, Fortnum and Mason, John Lewis, Harvey Nichols and more competing for Google places with their offerings of Champagne & Chocolate (truffles) gift box sets.
Though does it pair well together? Many wine experts with roll their eyes if they hear of Champagne and chocolates, it gets the blood boiling of many – sweeter wines to ports would be their suggestion and no way should Champagne accompany chocolates! Mainly this is because a standard Champagne will be paired with sweeter (milk) chocolate. The perfect pairing is that of a sweeter Champagne to go with the richer sweetness of milk / white chocolate whereas dark chocolate (those with higher cocoa content) will go better with a drier style of Champagne (Extra Brut / Brut Nature). My opinion is that chocolate can pair nicely with Champagne as long as you pay attention to the type of each you are putting together.
“I just tried a rosé Champagne with a main brand milk chocolate and it clashed where the flavours of each were delivered in splinters and a bitter taste formed. I tried the same Champagne with a lesser known dark chocolate and they paired nicely whereas I got still red fruits and a deep cocoa taste yet my palate at the same time felt cleansed.”
When it comes to pairing foods with Champagne then we are nowadays quite open to all and any possibilities from sushi to fish and chips, BBQ steak to Thai green curry. The versatility of pairing foods with Champagne has been well and truly discovered over the recent few years with many rightful classics becoming popular trends and ending then days of its white wine for fish, red wine for steak philosophy.
What foods should you not pair with Champagne? Now let us take a look at some foods which I suggest are not the best to pair with Champagne. Of course, lots will depend on personal preferences and how you are cooking your foods and which style (sweetness level) of Champagne you are opening. Champagne can both be fruity and sweet (up to Doux 50+ g/L residual sugar), it is an acidic wine and can also be quite dry and sharp (Brut Nature 0-3 g/L residual sugar).
- Cheaper overly greasy foods: I am talking about those donner kebab takeaways, cheap pizzas, fried chicken etc. Now though these foods / ingredients might pair well with Champagne, however when prepared and cooked without too much care on flavours and quality then they would not suit a partnership with a finer Champagne. Lot’s of takeaway foods can be overly greasy, dripping with fat, which puts the Champagne under too much unnecessary strain in my opinion.
- Strong Garlic led dishes: Though cooking with garlic as aromatics wonderfully compliments many dishes, if you have a dish that sees an over powering serving of garlic then this may effect the quality of the Champagne in your glass as it is likely to persist in the palate beyond the flavours and acidity of the wine.
- Overly spicy dishes: Though Champagne can be quite bold and certainly refreshing against any spices, extreme heat from a dish might leave your palate with too hot a cauldron to cool! I am a firm favourite of spicy curries, usually a madras and vindaloo being my preferred option when dining out, and an Extra Brut Champagne pairs nicely. If you are scaling up from there then I feel you are ruining the pairing and would be better opting for chilled milk!
- Brussels sprouts possibly asparagus also: A favourite for many the Brussel sprout (though how we hated them as children) will generally not pair greatly with Champagne in that it throws out a fault flavour character in wine being the organosulfur compounds.
- Tomatoes: A tomato driven dish from salads to pasta dishes can see an acidity clash with Champagne.
Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.