Champagne is probably considered the ultimate aperitif or celebratory toast and is often overlooked as a perfect wine to match with food. In the region itself, locals enjoy Champagne as their staple wine of choice for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the Taittinger family is no exception. As the new house pour for Exclusive Hotels and Venues, both partners believe Champagne has a life far beyond this place at the dinner table...
The delicacy, finesse and acidity of Champagne make it a great match for food - the key is to ensure that the food flavours to do not overpower the Champagne. Curries and highly spiced foods are best avoided despite the many attempts to make pairings work. Look out for classic, subtle dishes where the Champagne and the food sing – white meats, fish and shellfish; hot or cold.
A surprising and particularly delicious match is with good old fish and chips; the acidity of the wine cuts through the richness of the batter or crispy crumb and the flavours complement each other. This is a decadent way to enjoy the great British classic on our own shores.
At Taittinger, the only major Champagne house to be owned and actively managed by the family named on the label, the family are passionate about enjoying the right food with their different wines. Of course each family member has their own personal favourites, some of which are can be rather unconventional.
Brother and sister, Clovis and Vitalie Taittinger, who both work at the Champagne house, have quite different favourite food matches for their wines. As export director, Clovis spends most of his time travelling the world so has had firsthand experience of some very exotic matches. Vitalie is the marketing director based in Reims and enjoys some pairings more traditional to the region.
In Vitalie’s words:
“… I am always surprised to see how well Champagne suits such a lot of dishes! When you cook something delicate, elegant, you can drink Champagne and fly away!”
If you are looking for inspiration for some recommended pairings, here are some classic and contemporary suggestions for three of Taittinger’s most popular wines and some suggestions that the family have shared with Exclusive Hotels and Venues.
Taittinger Prestige Rosé
A striking pink Champagne presented in a unique clear glass bottle to show off its lovely hues makes this the prettiest of matches with a bowl of fresh strawberries or a summer pudding. Keeping to the dessert trolley Clovis also picks out this wine to match to a TarteTatin or indulgent raspberry and white chocolate macaroons.
Taittinger Brut Réserve NV
Probably the most obvious choice as the perfect aperitif. However aperitifs often call out for a nibble – the regional classic being light, cheese gougères or smoked salmon blinis. Although firm favourites with the family as well, Clovis has an ideal match of canapés with fresh, creamy Mozzarella di Bufala. His sister, on the other hand will always seek out little french salty biscuits called sablés.
Beyond the nibbles this wine also works well with shellfish platters, smoked salmon – be it gravadlaxed, home cured, traditionally smoked or hot smoked or even scallops – ceviched through to sautéd and served with a little black pudding!
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs
Taittinger’s top prestige cuvée, this is the ultimate Chardonnay. Exquisitely delicate but with complexity and a long finish, it is Champagne for the finest of foods, which in turn are delicate and light. Shellfish, Dover sole, and caviar are the obvious foods that spring to mind.
Vitalie: “Most people like to match this wine with Oysters. Unfortunately I am allergic to them so instead I love to drink with lobster, ideally served with a light creamy sauce or melted butter and a gentle squeeze of lemon.”
Clovis : “From my travels in Spain I am now a convert to Comtes and Jabugo (famous Spanish ham).”