For decades, champagne was served as a celebratory beverage on its own. These days, however, we are enjoying the wines of the Champagne region throughout our dining experiences. New and creative ways of pairing champagnes with food have been developing. While cultural boundaries are constantly changing, a few iconic Champagne houses are pursuing promotional campaigns with inspiring chefs to highlight excellence.
The following brands, along with others in Champagne, are re-educating consumers and professionals:
Ayala – “Squaremeal Female Chef Award” founded in 2018
This house seeks to promote UK-based female chefs whose culinary and CSR work is truly inspiring, as the UK has historically been a key international market for Ayala.
Krug – “Krug X Single Ingredient”: 2022 “Rice”
Founded in 2016, with previous editions including “Onion,” “Music” and “Pepper,” the Krug competition promotes the singularity of an ingredient paired with champagne. Krug’s ambassador chefs from around the world create dishes that express their artistic flair.
Taittinger – “Prix Culinaire International”
The objective of this prestigious culinary award, founded in 1967, is to ensure the preservation of French gastronomic heritage through the transmission of know-how to the next generation of chefs.
Through these culinary competitions, these exquisitely effervescent estates that are dedicated to quality and innovation while respecting tradition, bridge the gap between the vineyards and the kitchen. While the concept may not be a “latest trend,” each step continues to enlighten and educate consumers and professionals on wines from Champagne.
New champagne releases
• Rare Rosé 2012
• Cattier 100% Meunier 2016
• Marc Hébrart Clos Léon 2014 Blanc de Blancs
• There was the first edition of the “Coteaux Champenois Tasting” in Bouzy, on May 10, 2022, featuring 33 participating estates. Other estates in Champagne offer exquisite Coteaux, but they were not part of this year’s tasting.
• Bollinger 2012 Champagne La Côte aux Enfants (previously only released as a single vineyard still red wine)
• Collery 2014 EmpyreumatiC (elaborated with cigar pairing in mind, as well as food pairing)
• Demière Collection Oenotheck (longer aged on fine lees NV 100 percent Meunier champagnes, ideally experienced with food)
• Mumm Cordon Rouge Stellar (“Space” cuvée, incorporating new techniques and materials that comply with both Space and AOC Champagne specifications).
Champagne in restaurants
Brand identification or tasting experience: what matters most to your establishment? Is ensuring the availability of renowned brand names more relevant to your clientele, or is the focus on the wine itself? There is no correct answer; some clients expect iconic brand names, as this is what they are most familiar with or even most comfortable drinking, regardless of the food. Increasingly, however, clients are open to trying new pairing suggestions that include wines from smaller wineries. In Champagne, these are either the family-owned and operated houses (“Négociants Manipulants” or “NM”), which wine journalists sometimes refer to as being “boutiquey”, or winegrowers (“Récoltants Manipulants” or “RM”). Some examples include Ayala (NM), Bourgeois-Diaz (RM), Collery (NM), Demière (NM), Etienne Calsac (RM), Francis Orban (RM), J. Lassalle (RM) and Legras & Haas (NM), among others.
The competitive advantages of offering champagne to customers in restaurants
Champagne is an affordable and highly enjoyable luxury, which enables pairings with a wide range of different dishes, all the more so when served by the glass from a magnum (or jeroboam), as the “woweffect” is immediate while the ROI is even more interesting. Walking into a restaurant or a bar to find a large and elegant ice bucket with magnums of champagne and a “by the glass” offer is quite a welcome!
Food and champagne pairings
Start with the relevant stemware. This will allow for the many aromatic layers to be revealed in the glass. A “bulbous” tulipshaped champagne glass is ideal. Lehmann’s Collection Signature P. Jamesse Premium 28.5 cl is the best value-for-money stemware for champagne, from technical tasting to enjoying a glass with a meal. Identify aromatic, even textural characteristics within the champagne that can best enhance the culinary experience. If acidity, tension and a defined expression of salinity are prevalent in the glass, then enjoy a fatty dish (duck, salmon, cream sauce or cheese) to allow the champagne to cut through the fat. This will elevate the secondary and tertiary aromas of the Champagne and the dish for a truly heightened culinary experience.
By 2030, all Champagne houses and winegrowers will be required to hold a certificate of sustainable management. No other wine-producing region in the world can claim the same, or even close to it. This reinforces the image of champagne as the “King of Wines and Wine for Kings.”It truly continues to uphold its unique, iconic position at the top of the sparkling wine world. Besides retaining respect for tradition, as well as a timeless reputation for quality, Champagne will remain a clearly defined global leader in developing contemporary trends, techniques and solutions to problems and obstacles.