Champagne & Food is a topic I like to add to my list of passions. Let’s experience this together by following me on my restaurant visits.
For those of you who cannot join me, I will post photos and video. And to put you in a “pairing” mood, I want to share these momentous food & wine stories with you.
An Evening to Remember
It is always nice to be invited out for dinner with friends in the private setting of their home, which they meticulously tidied up as we often do before our friends come to our home. The dining room in particular is decorated a touch more colorful then the norm’, as it is the setting for the evening gathering with friends sharing good food, drink, and conversation.
These days; however, one must pay special attention to the dietary needs of guests, including gluten free, fat free, vegetarian vegan, which can be quite time consuming for the host to prepare. Still, when it comes to dinner parties for dear friends, everything most be perfect!
I generally enjoy both white wine and recently red; however, as you must know by now, champagne is always the winner. Even at home casually I serve a glass for breakfast, lunch and dinner, particulalrly if I am not following a wine pairing, I prefer to drink champagne through all meals.
My story begins one night a few years back with Tine & Henrik, an international open minded Danish couple who were our neighbors from my past life in the countryside of ” Gammel Holte”, a quaint suburban village north of Copenhagen. This community is known to be very family friendly, lovely countryside villas, lots of horse stables, and a nice blend of different cultures and locals living together across this valley.
With Tine, the menu is always the highlight of discussion. While some people serve a spontaneous dinner with little thought in mind, a kind of “lets cook straight from what we have in the fridge”, which is usually a selection of tapas or comfort food served at the breakfast bars or make shift dinner tables and voila – dinner is served. Others do the big shopping trip, meticulously planned, and certainly not a replication of the last dinner served. As you might assume, Tine takes pride in every detail.
The food is half the story. The wine selection for the meal boils down to the connoisseur in the home. You can actually guess what alcohol will be served by a quick glance at the glasses on the table – the shape, the type, and the amount, which gives hint of the wines to be served. Tine’s table was simple but beautifully, set typically with 3 glasses, a wine glass for the starter, red wine glass for the main course and a glass for water.
You can be sure when you are in Denmark because the starters will always be fish, and likely smoked salmon or shrimp. There is a chance it could also be be “sild” but that a typical Danish dish is usually kept for Easter lunches or Christmas. Denmark is one big island with a Peninsula called ” Jylland”, surrounded by waters of the North Sea on one side and the Baltic on the other. The fish consumption is higher and readily available than a similar size landlocked country such as Switzerland.
Smoked and fresh sushi style Salmon was the dish Tine served with condiments such as popped black wild rice, which is a delicious crispy lightly rough texture crunch, mild flavor that goes well with the salmon, creamfraich/advocado cream dressing. The popped rice conveniently replaces a less option of white bread. Tine certainly knows how to use her experienced, well traveled mind to combine international food style with local grown Danish produce. It was a delicious dish and was served with the expected white wine. Her husband Henrik, whom has a deep wine knowledge. He is a casual but sophisticated wine aficionado, heavily influence by the great burgundy that accompanied each course. You can imagine with Tine’s great cuisine choices and Henrik’s wine we were in for a grand evening of feasting and drinking.
Of course, I drank champagne.
As all superb hosts, they know there guests well but this evening was a night to remember for me. Henrik, without a consideration whether it was the proper thing to do Henrik had a cooled bottle of champagne ready to serve me for all courses, not because champagne was needed for the dishes but simple because he remembered my love of champagne. The best bottles of their cellar were always on the cool, as if he could read my mind. I was enjoying the moment and laughing inside like a little girl who just won a prize at the fair thinking how lucky I was not to be restricted by the strict protocol of drinking the served wines matched for the course. There can be so many contested notions around paring; however, only a few truly posses deep knowledge. Many just follow what they see superficially in advertising or what they loosely hear along the way. And that can be just fine; however, there is a protocol based on qualified studies that guide which foods to pair with wines. Truth is, if you are not part of the food /beverage industry, owned a restaurant or bar, or taken pairing up as a serious hobby, we often have no clue how really to pair food with wine.
Back to Tine and Henrik. Dinner was a success and a big hit in my dairy of events. They enjoyed their white wines with their fish and the reds with their meats and I funnily enough stayed on champagne throughout the meal. The champagne was a prestige cuvée 50% CH/50% PN, a well balanced champagne that certainly goes with a well balance meal, especially as the meat was not a deep matured meat, rather a light tenderloin. I am no expert, and if you also feel the same, trust your mouth and taste, it will not steer you wrong!
I have seen it all though – and not to detract from my story, I remembered being in the US where I was surprised to see ” an anything goes approach” at the table” while dining with a group of young New Yorkers in a private home. During the meal whisky & coke, gin, vodka, wine and beer were served and there was a lady with a cigarette in her hand throughout the entire meal, so since then I realize everything is possible.
Wine pairing with food in my opinion best left with experts. When I am in a gourmet Resturant such as Geranium, without a question I take the wine menu. You can be sure many hours of study, thought, tastings, and discussions have gone into one wine and one dish pairing, therefore you can imagine the work when there are 21 dishes. Though the same style wine can be served for more than one dish, I truly marvel and enjoy wine pairing with the meal and appreciate the time and effort involved in making the perfect match. I have many questions still, which are asked; however, the answer is respected and belongs to the individual Sommelier. I have actually been to many good restaurants that actually offer the wine card before you have chosen your meal. How would it even be possible to choose your wine before you have even seen the menu? I prefer to take the advice of those who know, and decide what to eat first!
The moral of the story I suppose is we all have our style and preference. I love champagne and I appreciate my hosts who know me and are willing to circumvent protocol to accommodate my tastes; however, I am a fan of parking and value the expertise of those in the know. Sometimes, as I saw in New York City, “anything goes”. There is no real answer right now as historically champagne has always been served outside of France as a aperitif or for celebration; however, we are always shaking u the marbles in way or the other, even when it comes to steep protocol. Champagne is becoming even more popular so continue to follow me on this new journey of champagne and food pairing and let’s see what we find out together. Cheers!
Tine recipe and “quote” when I asked her via messenger if she had a picture of her dish?
Visit my site, http://lescinqfilles.com/, for more information about the Champagne Les Cinq Filles Cuvee.
It is also possible to purchases the bottles directly from there.