Champagne and other sparkling wines are too-often reserved for wedding toasts or New Year’s Eve parties. For some reason, everyone tends to forget that they also make luxe, luscious libations for any time of the year, either solo or paired with food. Bubbly can even be used as an ingredient in your meal, making the traditional wine pairing a bit more interesting.
Here are some suggestions for a Champagne-centered three-course meal:
Entrée: Integrate the bubbly into a rich stove-top beurre blanc sauce to spoon over seared scallops or shrimp broiled in the oven. Oven-roasted white asparagus—not green!—finished with sea salt, good olive oil and Parmigiano-Reggiano makes a stellar side dish. Electrolux’s induction cooktops are the perfect heat source for delicate sauces like this one thanks to its precise temperature control.
Salad: Take a tip from the Europeans and follow the entrée with a salad course. Branch out and expand salad’s flavors with endive and hearts of palm and dressed with good olive oil, sea salt and sprinkle of sparkling wine or a squeeze of lime. Be creative: This low-maintenance dressing will work on virtually any combination of fresh veggies.
Dessert: Use prosecco, cava, or Champagne to create an effervescent after-dinner treat, such as Bobby Flay’s Champagne Granita, which comes together with just few ingredients in the freezer. Taste of Home’s Jellied Champagne Dessert or Sparkling Fruit Salad are also nice ways to end the meal. Make them ahead and store in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve.
Now that you’ve got your menu, wine expert Andrea Billick picked some of her favorite non-vintage (NV) sparklers, which are produced from grapes from multiple vintage years.
Billecart-Salmon Champagne NV Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru: Billick describes this wine as “elegant” and “delicate” with notes of Gala apple, hazelnut, almonds, lemon zest, biscuit and chalk. Food will draw out its complexity.
Maison J.J. Vincent NV Crémant de Bourgogne Brut: This dry sparkling wine from Burgundy "displays a phalanx of beautiful flavors,” Billick says, including “apples, brioche, almonds and loads of mineral.”
Gruet Blanc de Noirs NV: Hailing from Gruet Winery in New Mexico, the wine has hints of brioche, strawberry, red flower and a bit of citrus, says Billick.
Even though sparkling wines are versatile, some foods should not be served alongside them, Billick says. Avoid pairing “green” flavors—green peppers, asparagus or spinach, for example—with sparkling wines, as they will “fight the wines” and distort their flavors.
And when drinking sparkling wine with a salad, don’t use vinegar in the dressing. “Balsamic vinegar will destroy a Champagne,” Billick says.