Lovely bubbly

We know the basic wine rules: a zesty sauvignon blanc with fish, a spicy shiraz with a rib-eye, a sweet riesling with a chocolate pudding. But it’s time to throw the wine rulebook out of the window, as the hottest foodie trend is matching champagne with your supper.

“Champagne has always been popular for special occasions or as an aperitif,” explains Christina Larsson, the divinely titled ‘champagne angel’ at London’s new The Balcon restaurant. “But there’s a definite move now towards matching a glass of champagne with each course of a meal.” The figures back this up: despite the tough economic climate, champagne sales in the UK remained the biggest outside France.

So how do you know if a bottle of Ruinart will go with your rhubarb crumble? “With champagne and food, it’s all about matching like for like,” says Ivan Dixon, wine and spirit buyer at Harvey Nichols. “If you have savoury, earthy elements in the food, it goes with a savoury style of champagne; whereas if you have light, elegant champagne, the worst thing you can do is pair it with heavy, dominating food.”

Acidity is also key: for creamy dishes, you want champagne with more acidity to cut through and freshen the palate; for lighter dishes, less acidic champagne won’t overwhelm the food’s delicate flavour. So we asked 10 experts to pair fizzes with food…

Words: Julia Maile

  • Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial NV with salmon blinis

    “This champagne is adaptable, so works with a broad range of pairings. It pairs best with salty nuts or canapés such as salmon blini as they complement the brioche and fresh nut aromas of the wine.” Pascal Tingaud, chef de cuisine, private estates of Moët & Chandon


  • Laurent-Perrier Brut NV with sushi

    “The lighter style of this champagne means that it goes particularly well with seafood like sushi. If you feel like really pushing the boat out, though, try serving it with lobster." Fiona Beckett, contributing editor, Decanter (matching


  • AndrÉ Clouet Grande RÉserve with parma ham

    “Made using 100% pinot noir, this champagne has high acidity and lots of red apple and dark fruit tones, so it’s a lovely match for the smokiness of charcuterie such as air dried ham, dried saucisson and smoked duck.” Christina Larsson, champagne angel and sommelier, The Balcon


  • Taittinger Folies De La Marqeutterie NV with lamb

    “This is Taittinger’s gastronomic champagne – it’s made with food in mind. Part of the blend is aged in oak giving it

    a more full-bodied, creamy character so it stands up to robust dishes such as tender lamb served with gratin dauphinoise.” Vitalie Taittinger, artistic director, Taittinger


  • Ruinart Blanc De Blancs NV with risotto

    “This is zesty and lemony, so goes well with things like wild mushroom risotto. The food is rich, salty and buttery,

    so when the sharp citrus peach note from the champagne pulls through, it’s like yin and yang.”

    John Campbell, Michelin-starred former head chef at Coworth Park


  • Gosset Grand RosÉ NV with salmon blini

    “This wonderful wine is pinot noir-based, so it has more richness and versatility. It’s really good with duck – the champagne’s acidity cuts through the duck’s fattiness. It also goes well with big fish flavours such as tuna or smoked salmon.” Ivan Dixon, buyer, Harvey Nichols


  • Benedick Grande RÉserve Brut NV with rarebit

    “I love champagne with something simple like Welsh rarebit, made using a good, strong cheddar. This champagne is juicy, but refreshingly crisp and super value for money. It comes in half bottles too – perfect for a simple yet luxurious solo supper!” Jane Parkinson, wine journalist and taster


  • Dom PÉrignon 2002 magnum with scallops

    “I would suggest a seafood match, such as scallops, for this champagne. The freshness of this vintage balances the texture of the shellfish and heightens the special iodine character of the champagne perfectly.” Richard Beaumont, senior brand manager, Dom Pérignon


  • Billecart-Salmon Brut RosÉ NV with light brie

    “Strong cheese overpowers most champagnes but there are great matches with milder cheeses. The red berry flavours of this are great with lighter goat’s cheeses and brie, and creamy cheese such as brillat savarin or chaource.” Philippa Wright, marketing director, Goedhuis & Co Fine Wine Merchants


  • Franck Bonville 2006 Blancs De Blancs with chcoolate

    “Champagne and chocolate are hard to match, but rich vintage champagne with a white chocolate dessert is delicious. The toasted brioche notes meld with the sugar and vanilla of the dessert.” Bérenger Piras, The Antique

    Wine Company