It is not a secret that I love sparkling wines (or in that case one of the worlds worst kept ones). Champagne, Cava, Cremant; I love them all (when they are well made). Why am I not mentioning Prosecco? Well it’s just not my style, but I am not saying it cant be a great experience for someone who is fond of fresh and fruity wines. To celebrate New Year’s eve, I thought about sharing some thoughts from an article I read in a Swedish newspaper: tips for drinking Champagne and how to pair a three-four course meal with only bubbly. What a wonderful concept! Why restrict your Champagne only to an aperitif when you can enjoy with every course of your meal.
The article was written as an interview of Richard Julin, the most known Champagne critic in Sweden. While I do not always agree with Richard, I do think he is a very interesting personality, and the person to follow if you are interested in Champagnes. He has an amazing sense of smell, some say it is even scary. In 2003 he attended an event in Paris where participants had to guess 50 different Champagnes (producer and vintage) just from their smell. He placed 43 (out of 50) and the second best, the Sommelier world champion, placed only 4. He has also been featured on Norwegian TV sniffing people blindfolded to guess their age, gender and country of origin. Creepy, but he actually was able to recognize a pregnant 43 year old German woman almost to the detail. Richard is said to have a “photographic memory” of scents. If he has once smelled a wine, he can remember it. He is a Champagne fundamentalist; a man of the opinion that even the worst Champagne is better than the best “other” sparkling wine in the world. Here is where I disagree with Richard, but moving on, he had some wonderful tips for New Year and I would like to share them with you!
1. You should have a right glass when drinking champagne. Tulip shaped.
2. Don’t drink the champagne too cold. If you have had it in the ice bucket, its too chilled. Take the champagne from the fridge, wait 5 minutes, then pour. Its better to pour a little bit at a time and refill to make sure the champagne does not get too warm in the glass.
3. When it comes to food, Champagne goes well with food that has salt, fat and acidity. Avoid bitterness, sweetness and spiciness in foods and if using vegetables pre-cook them instead of having them raw.
Richard has also some interesting concrete suggestions. For example Pata Negra is a creamy and salty ham that fits well with the acidity of champagne. For a main: truffle ravioli with safran sauce; and for dessert cheese (instead of something sweet).
He ends the interview with stating that one gets a nicer drunk feeling from Champagne because it is pure. I am not sure if one should take this last sentence seriously (I think he is actually joking), but I do agree that Champagne is a great drink for all occasions (and all courses of the meal). Perhaps I will go with his suggestion and ask the Sommelier tonight to match my dinner with a flight of Champagne. And there is no better place for that than Kitchen Table, a restaurant in London that specializes in growers Champagne.