Our expert’s advice

Romain Lemaire

End-of-year bubbly

Dear champagne connoisseurs,

Champagne is the quintessential wine for celebrations. At every important occasion, you open a bottle of champagne to celebrate a unique moment in time with your close friends and family.

Champagne is very often served as an apéritif or with dessert, but rarely during the meal itself.

Keep in mind that champagne is also a wine, and that by definition therefore, there are basic champagnes to be consumed quickly (the majority of non-vintage brut champagnes), vintage champagnes which keep and age just as well as fine wines, and special vintages, which are exceptional wines designed to enjoy on special occasions.

We will begin with blends that lean towards freshness, energy and iodine.
Choose a zero-dosage champagne, ideally a "blanc de blancs" or one heavily dominated by Chardonnay. Also known as "brut nature", the sharp, crystalline and mineral aspect of this wine will reveal itself perfectly when served with oysters. It is also a marvellous accompaniment to a seafood platter (but avoid crustaceans with an excessively fatty texture), freshwater fish, or even sushi and sashimi.

With a meal: choose a fuller-bodied wine for a more luxurious taste.
A vintage champagne from a good producer, especially a full-bodied wine, pairs perfectly with prestigious and expressive dishes. Wonderful combinations are possible when served with scallops, lobster or rock lobster.
For the more courageous among you, an older vintage is the ideal accompaniment to a poularde (fattened young chicken), either stuffed or in sauce.

With cheese: two possibilities

The first is a fruity brut champagne, a 'blanc de noirs' (or one heavily dominated by Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier).

The second option is a developed champagne with a slightly oxidative character, revealing nutty and spicy aromas… This type of wine pairs wonderfully with mature gruyère cheeses, which have a very similar aromatic register.

With dessert: be careful not to fall into the trap of serving pink champagne.

The mistake to avoid is opting to serve champagne with the desserts, since the sugar they contain and the strong acidity of the wine seldom go together well – and that's before even considering the bitter taste of cocoa. Therefore, go for medium-dry champagnes which naturally have a greater dosage, as these will give exactly the sweetness needed for a balanced feel in the mouth as well as a nice, fresh pairing.

The most important choices to be made concern glasses and the serving temperature. Forget the conventional champagne flute and go for a wine glass instead, because as I emphasised earlier, champagne is also a wine.

Champagne is served chilled at a temperature of 7-9°C for an apéritif champagne and 12-14°C for a grand millésime.

I wish you good times around the table with a meal and a fine bottle of champagne.

Take the taste test and be won over.

From your sommelier,

Romain Lemaire

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