Sommeliers Choice Articles

The Sommeliers Choice Food And Champagne Matching

By Marc Yvan van de Wynckele

The recent snowfall was a great reminder that Christmas is just around the corner. Most of us have been working very hard this year and this festive season will be the best time to reward ourselves and our friends and families with the very best meal of the season. So why not go for a Champagne Christmas? Thanks to the arrival of Boutique Champagnes and its variety this is something that you can do without fear. This year we propose you to amaze yourselves and make sure your Christmas feast stays in history as the best ever organised.

First we need to choose the menu.

For Christmas 2010 here is the menu we suggest you prepare:
  • Confit Salmon,Caviar, Cucumber ribbons with a Yoghurt and Wasabi Sauce
  • Pan Fried Duck Foie Gras, Roasted Apple with Lambs Lettuce, Cider and Hazelnut Vinaigrette
  • Roasted Venison with Turnips and Kirsh Soaked Cherries,
  • Mandarin Christmas Pudding, Toffee Sauce

To pair these delicious festive courses we suggest the following Champagnes:

This menu shouts Christmas all the way and will be a delight to your guests and these Champagnes have been made for this specific menu and here is the proof.

First Course

The first dish we propose is a suggestion of Edouard Oger,Head Sommelier at two Michelin Star Gidleigh Park. This salmon course struck us with its freshness. Served cold and being prepared the day before this dish is rich in flavours and a perfect appetite opener. The contrast of textures between the soft salmon and the crunch of the cucumber will awake your senses. Then there is the light saltiness of the fish and the caviar that will be lifted by the Wasabi. For this delicious first course we need a champagne that is not too full bodied, dry, frank and with a lot of elegance, cleanness and freshness. With a very pleasing minerality we suggest. Larmandier-Bernier Grand Cru Vieilles Vignes de Cramant Brut N.V.. Rated 93/100 by the Wine Advocate this organic Blanc de Blancs has recently been praised as Champagne of choice for Christmas by Master of Wine Jancis Robinson. We will serve this wine in a flute between 8 and 10 degrees of temperature for a great result.

Starter

As the first starter is cold and refreshing we will need towarm up our palate with heat as well as flavours. Classic, even for some,compulsory is a course of Foie Gras for Christmas. This year we suggest a classic dish inspired by top chef Raymond Blanc that is Pan Fried Duck Foie Gras with apples and Cider and Hazelnut Vinaigrette. Packed with strong flavours and utterly yummy this dish needs a Champagne full of personality with a majority of black grapes into it and a richness sufficient enough to match the strength of the dish. Jerome Dehours has created a Blanc de Noirs made of 100% Pinot Meunier that delivers just that. With aromas of yeast, green apple and wheat and when warming up revealing Yellowstone fruits, figs and nougat this rare Champagne is a perfect companion to Foie Gras. We will serve it from the fridge and in a tall white wine glass and leave the bottle on the table to warm up slowly until finished. (You might need two!)

Main Course

For the main course we could have gone for Turkey but there would have been no excitement. Instead we choose a very seasonal Game that is venison. This lean and flavoursome meat might go very well with Bordeaux or fine Burgundy but that is until you taste Soutiran Rose Soutiran Rose. This Champagne is from another league. Vinous, with a combination of fresh black and red fruits and with wooden mushrooms the wine is full on, rich with generous alcohol level and few tannins. The after taste shows some notes of Kirsh marinated cherries that will lift up your venison dish. For this fine wine you will serve it at cellar temperature (14c) in Burgundy glasses without fear as the Champagnes of Soutiran have one of the liveliest mousse ever.

Dessert

For the dessert you have to finish with a Christmas Pudding.Very fashionable is a certain hidden orange one made by a certain top chef. This, if you can get it, will need a top Champagne grower's wine to match its uniqueness.Eric Rodez from Grand Cru village of Ambonnay, makes the Champagne we suggest. The Cuvee des 'Grands Vintages' is exclusively made with the juices from several first pressings of his best vintaged productions. With a very expressive nose it immediately revels nice aromas of orange marmalade and toffee making it a Champagne fit for the job like no other.

Don't be alarmed by the dishes because after all they are much more simple to cook as they look and recipes can be found easily on the net. If you don't feel like having the whole menu you can simply choose one you fancy and add it to your own personal menu. When it comes to the Champagnes it could be a nice touch for your guests to return home with a bottle of each. It is a nice unexpected present that, we are certain, will be more than appreciated by your guests. And not to forget is that these Champagnes will make an impression at the aperitif also. What's left to wish you is a fantastic Champagne Christmas and the very best Year 2011.


Bon Apetit!