A guide to matching this French classic to every course of your next dinner party.
Many of us consider champagne to be a celebratory drink, something which is rarely taken further into the realms of food pairings beyond, say, caviar or oysters. Some varieties however, are surprisingly food-friendly, so long as you pay close attention when matchmaking with flavours. If you’re planning on an all-champagne dinner, the idea is to work your way up, following through from the more acidic to the less acidic and the lively to the more full-bodied.
Begin with the popular, dry and non-vintage G. H. Mumm Cordon Rouge, the flagship of the champagne house made mostly with Pinot Noir grapes. Enjoy alongside hors d’oeuvres such as savoury puff pastries, canapés and tapas, though be wary of bitter flavours such as that of an olive tapenade, which would be an affront to the fresh, light taste of this champagne. Prefer the taste of a Blanc de Blancs, rich in minerals with an expressive finish thanks to it being made only from chardonnay grapes? This champagne performs admirably as a pre-dinner aperitif, yet its most famous pairing is with fish or seafood, particularly a simply prepared entrée of sushi, sashimi or oysters.
As you move on to a main meal, a heartier accompaniment is called for. It may surprise traditionalists, but the contrast between refreshing champagne and a hot dish works well. Be aware however, that not just any champagne will do; select a vintage that is designed to age before drinking such as the GH Mumm Brut Le Millésime 2004, or for the very discerning, the pinnacle of the GH Mumm range: Cuveé R. Lalou 1999. Serve with gourmet fish, chicken or delicate white meats and if you’re up for a challenge, a steak, for which champagne pairing isn’t out of the question either. Sure, it’s not a familiar option, but a champagne with complexity will cut through the fat of the premium beef, each sip serving as a mini palate cleanser, something that a glass of red or white wine could never do. Looking for a more casual bite? Make like the London eatery Bubbledogs, and pair champagne with gourmet hot dogs, or even burgers. The old school may turn their nose up, but you and your guests will sit smug in the throes of a taste sensation.
The evening is beginning to wind down, so finish off with a selection of cheeses such as Comté or Parmesan and blues like Roquefort or Gorgonzola and continue the moment with the medium-dry and full bodied GH Mumm Brut Le Millésime 2004 (stay well away from soft surface-ripened cheeses however; the likes of Camembert have never found their champagne soul mate). While the versatility of GH Mumm Le Rosé allows it to be particularly appreciable served chilled as an aperitif, traditionally it has been served with red fruit desserts or pink biscuits de Reims, making it an easy choice for any stage of the evening. If you’re tempted to enjoy sweeter dessert pairings, tread carefully, sweet dishes often make champagne taste bitter. We’re looking at you, chocolate fondant.
To find out more champagne pairing tips for any occasion, visit G.H. Mumm’s website here.
G. H. Mumm