Food & Drinks

It’s champagne day: how do you enjoy it?

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Sushi paired with champagne at Villa Rosa Kempinski. PHOTO | POOL

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Summary

  • The world is celebrating Champagne Day today.
  • The champagne has a white fruit aroma with soft reserved spiciness which blends perfectly on the palate.
  • Champagnes are made from three types of grapes grown in the Champagne region in France.

The world is celebrating Champagne Day today. Whether enjoying champagne in the house or dinner in a restaurant, pairing the sparkling wine with the right kind of food is like a mystery to many. The rule is basic; choose dishes that enhance the taste of champagne.

Moët & Chandon, a champagne maker and part of the world’s largest luxury conglomerate, Louis Vuitton Moët-Hennessy (LVMH) sells three kinds of champagne in Kenya — Moët Imperial Brut, Rose Imperial, and Nector Imperial.

Pierre- Louis Araud, the private client and prescription director at Moët Hennessy, says that the Moët Brut is best served with seafood such as grilled lobster, oyster, sushi, or prawns.

The champagne has a white fruit aroma with soft reserved spiciness which blends perfectly on the palate with these foods.

“If it is white food or white dish it goes with white champagne. If it is reddish, it goes with Rose champagne,” he says.

“Brut works with a light meal, without too many spices so they don’t overlap the taste of the flavour.”

If you are serving Kenyan foods, serve it with chapati dishes. The champagnes are made from three types of grapes grown in the Champagne region in France.

Moët Brut has a mix of the three grapes; Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, and Pinot Noir - each pressed individually, then mixed.

For Moët Rose, the Pinot Noir is added during the ageing process. Ideally, they open a bottle of brut, take off the top of the neck with residue inside then add a bit of Pinot Noir.

“This gives the champagne the pink colour. The addition of Pinot Noir means that the percentage of Pinot Noir is higher,” says Alexandre Helaine, Moët Hennessy market manager Eastern Africa, adding that the red fruit flavour makes you think the Rose is sweet but it is not.

Moët Rose goes well with red meat like beef.

On the other hand, Moët Nector is a sweeter version of Brut. It follows the similar process of making Brut but sugar is added to make the champagne sweeter.

When thinking of what to serve with champagne, Mr Pierre says, think of six things; the colour of dish or kind of dish, dialogue and simplicity, salinity, texture, and cooking.

Because champagne has no salt, ensure your food is savoury. Moderate cooking keeps the meats juicy, and crunchy.

“The right cooking of the meat or fish is key to bringing out the texture. It is important because Moët champagne has a texture of liveliness and energy,” Mr Pierre says. Opening

Opening the champagne is done carefully since the bottle is expensive. Making a single bottle of champagne takes three years.

The bottle is held with the top of the non-writing hand. Hold the cork with your thumb on top while loosening the champagne wire, which should stay on. Turn the bottle, not the cork, while holding the base and let the cork pop out gently with a slight sigh or make it pop.

A food-champagne experience also goes well with the type of glass used, how you hold the glass because it should be taken cold. One should hold the glass with hands on the lower half of the stem, and not cup the bowl which could warm the champagne.

“Drink the champagne cold to maintain its flavour. It takes three years to make a bottle and it’s expensive. It’s better to appreciate what you drink and the way you appreciate is by how you hold it, open it and pour it,” Mr Alexandre says.

“Every time you open champagne you must remember it is expensive and everything you do with it should be expensive,’’ he adds.

I was at a food pairing at Villa Rosa Kempinski and my glass of Moët Brut was paired with mango and cauliflower sushi as a starter.

Moët Rose was paired with beef tartare, a meat dish made from raw minced beef. It was served with egg yolk and herbed melba.

For the main course, Moët Nectar was paired with cottage cheese and vegetable biryani served with mekhani sauce and chilli yogurt foam.

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